Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hungergamesTitle: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: YA dystopian novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First line: When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

I really need to give in to book blogger peer pressure more often. I gave in and read the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, and truly enjoyed them. I wasn’t sure about reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, though, because it was the same genre and I thought I might be ready for a break from dystopian fiction. But then I read Sandy’s review and Vasilly’s review and I caved. I am so glad I did.

Most of you have read multiple reviews of this book, so I’m going to skip the plot synopsis and just tell you why I loved this book and rated it five stars, when I only gave Uglies four. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the Uglies series very much (first three, anyway – haven’t read book four yet); four stars in my rating system means “I loved it.” Five stars however means that I will actively proselytize for this book, telling everyone they should get their hands on a copy no matter what it takes and read it right now. And that’s how I feel about The Hunger Games.

I think the biggest reason is the main character, Katniss. She is someone who has been required to become a strong survivor and provide for her family, and yet Collins writes her with just enough vulnerability to keep her from seeming hard. Collins has a talent for writing characters – even the minor ones – in such a way that you care for them. I couldn’t believe how hard I cried over the death of one of the relatively minor characters – both because of the character and because of Katniss’s reaction. I cared so much about the characters that I couldn’t stop turning the pages this afternoon, letting laundry and housework and blogging all go by the wayside until I had finished.

Collins also has a talent for description. This is definitely a plot-driven novel, and yet Collins gives the right amount of well-crafted description to help you see this book. In fact, there were scenes that played out in my head like a movie. (I wasn’t surprised to learn that this book has been optioned for a film adaptation. I am especially pleased that Ms. Collins will be writing the screenplay herself – perhaps the film will hold up to the book.) Because I could see the action in my head, certain scenes were intensely emotional, while others were incredibly disturbing. The future that this book portrays is completely different from the future in Uglies, and yet equally as believable.

The book ends with some things unresolved, and I will be anxiously awaiting book two, Catching Fire, which comes out in September.

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29 Responses to Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  1. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    I have heard so many great things about this book – I need to give it a try!

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    Phenomenal review, Carrie. You did really capture the heart of the book, and that is Katniss’s vulnerability combined with her determination to survive. She can make your heart break with her sensitivity at the death of one of her competitors, and the next minute she is shooting an arrow through the eye (or neck, or whatever) of another. These guys at Lionsgate need to tread carefully when casting Katniss. My daughter is very caught up in figuring out who it should be, and Googling on other’s opinions. This read is for young and old, and doubting Thomas’s need to just give up and read the darned thing. It is the real deal.

  3. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    S. Krishna – yes, you should – I think you would like it!

    Sandy – yes, I agree about the casting – that will have to be one terrific young actress to play Katniss and make all the lovers of the book happy.

  4. Kathy says:

    I really want to read this one. I was going to buy it last week for Buy Indie Day, but our indie was sold out of it.

  5. I agree – this is one of those books that you tell everyone about! It is suitable for everyone, and so noone goes away without hearing about it! It is my top read of 2009 so far!

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  7. Great review, Carrie. I am trying to get hold of this book but for no avail! It isn’t available in India as yet!

  8. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I’m waiting for this one from the library — think I’m two or three from the top of the list.

  9. Margot says:

    You make a great case for reading this book. Well written characters, descriptive scenes and a great plot – what am I waiting for? I just didn’t want to give in to the blog-peer pressure either. On the other hand, if it’s going to be made into a movie, I’d rather read the book first. Okay, okay.

  10. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    Kathy – I read my library’s copy, but I know I will by purchasing my own eventually.

    Jackie – I want my daughter to read it – I think she would love it.

    Gautami – Oh, that would be hard – I forget about readers outside the US! I hope it is available for you soon.

    Beth – I didn’t have to wait very long for my library’s copy – I was glad.

    Margot – Yep – give in to that peer pressure!

    Jen – How cool – your comment answered two questions I’ve had: what does the S. in S. Krishna stand for?, and do I have nested comments? Now I know. :)

  11. I definitely want to read this one based on all the great reviews I’ve been reading of it, including yours!

  12. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    Avis – you’ll like it, I’m sure.

  13. Debbie
    Twitter: debworldofbooks
    says:

    I loved this book and the Uglies series as well. The fourth book, Extras, was pretty good but the main character is a new person and it takes place awhile after Specials. Can’t wait for Catching Fire to come out!

    I also read the Japanese version of The Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and didn’t think it was as good although it was published earlier.

  14. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    Debbie – I hadn’t realized there was a Japanese version! I, too, am very much looking forward to Catching Fire.

  15. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly
    says:

    I’m so glad you read it and enjoyed it! But I have to warn you now, nothing you read after The Hunger Games is going to live up to it. I’ve read three books right now and only one I enjoyed almost as much as it. Now we’re all counting down for Catching Fire. Spetember can’t come soon enough! =)

  16. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    Vasilly – I know what you mean! I was in a reading slump for a couple of days. Someone on Twitter suggested Graceling, so I”m reading that, but it hasn’t qutie grabbed me yet.

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  23. Michael W says:

    This book is one of my favorites. She did a good job brining it to life. I cant wait to read the next one

  24. Tristen Frye says:

    This book is most definately the best i have ever read. The susspense, the drama, the violence, the romance. Every turn of the page and i felt like i had accomplished nore than i could in a lifetime. i usually play my xbox 360 non stop; but once i started this book, i couldn’t set it down to save my life. so unpredicting, so mind botteling. and to think, even though this seems pretty farfeched, this could may as well happen to our world some time in the future. i havent read the second one yet. “Catching Fire” but im sure that just like the Hunger Games, it will send me over the edge. you may thank your readers for there support, but Suzane Collins, i thank for providing in my opinion, one of the greatest books of all time.

  25. becca says:

    this series is amazing i love love love it and i already preordered Mockingjay i cannot wait to read it i have read this book several times and i will read it several more times to come suzanne collins is the most brilliant author whos books ive ever read..this is definately one of the greatest ooks in all time and i will look foward to reading more books from this author.if i could change one thing in these books it would be …well…nothig they are perfect except gale ruins everything

  26. joanne says:

    Is this a kids book? Im a teacher

  27. Pingback: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins | Iris on Books