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247 of 261 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2012
This time last week I had not heard of the Hunger Games trilogy. I was happy and content in my oblivious state too but it all changed very quickly! My Facebook page went Crazy on Saturday with talk about the movie and how fantastic it was, how it was true to the books and generally there was a buzz in the virtual atmosphere! My curiousity was aroused and I googled "Hunger Games", saw there were books available and so downloaded the first to my Kindle.

I started reading the first book on Sunday morning and by Sunday night I had completely devoured it. My housework did not get completed and dinner was more than a bit late. Where on earth was this series hiding and why had I not heard of it before now?

The whole story is so well thought out, rounded characters, brilliant use of the English Language, imaginative and simply an enthralling pleasure to read. Don't be fooled that these books are aimed at Teens - I'm 32 and loved it. I loved it so much that I downloaded the other two books in the series immediately - I had to find out what happens to the characters and follow them on their quest. I had a bit of a late night Sunday and then during my hour lunch break for the next couple of days finished the second book which is just as captivating. I'm starting the third tonight, but am sure I will be sad to see it end.

If you only read one book this year, please make it this one - you really won't be disappointed. I can't stop raving about these books to my friends and colleagues and I had to come on here and write a review to tell you to read it too!
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315 of 338 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2011
Ever since Harry Potter, I have spent my time trying to find books with characters I love as though they were my own friends, and with a plot so real that I felt it could actually be happening. Most books disappoint me in this area and I've had to settle for a lot of mediocrity. But not this time. Hunger Games drew me so far into its world I didn't want to leave!

Hunger Games is set in the future where North America has been turned into a country called Panem, separated into 12 districts and the Capitol. As if constant hunger wasn't bad enough, the districts are constantly reminded of the "Dark Days", when they rebelled against the Capitol, by punishing their children in the Hunger Games. Every year each District must send one boy and one girl to the Capitol to take part in these Games where they must fight each other to their deaths. The winner is the child who comes out alive, having presumably killed all the others. The Hunger Games is reality TV at its very extreme; mere entertainment for the wealthy and pampered residents of the Captitol, but torturous for the Districts, who have to watch their children year by year go off to the Capitol to be killed.

This book starts on the day of the Reeping, where the teenagers who will enter the Games are chosen at random throughout the districts. We follow Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl of District 12. Katniss has been scarred deeply by the death of her father in a mining disaster several years ago and since then has been breaking the laws of Panem by hunting animals in the forest in order to feed her starving family. You can't help but feel for Katniss, who has lost so much and tries so hard to care for her family, and when her little sister Prim is chosen in the Reeping, you can understand why she volunteers to take her place. And so the story follows her, along with fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta, as they head off to the luxurious Capitol, and finally head into the Hunger Games where you will be unable to put the book down, waiting to see if/how Katniss will survive.

This might all sound a bit morbid and violent and that was definitely a big concern for me when the concept of the Games was first introduced. But I read on anyway and was pleased to discover that while yes, people died and yes the idea of the games is horrific, it was so carefully written that it didn't feel morbid at all. Instead of feeling sick, you're taken on a journey with Katniss as she wakes up to the idea that the world she lives in is highly unfair. It's not a constant bloodbath where murder is just something you have to do; Katniss learns quickly the awful consequences of taking someone's life and death is treated with a heavy heart indeed. It also relates to so many aspects of our own world, and it's not a far stretch to imagine some time in the distant future a society like this. For that reason, instead of being a morbid tale of death and injustice, it will probably open your eyes to many of the injustices in our own world.

But don't worry, the Hunger Games won't leave you feeling completely miserable. The tragic moments are brightened considerably with light-hearted moments and some brilliant characters: I loved Cinna, the stylist, who is incredibly creative; I enjoyed drunken Haymitch, the only Tribute from District 12 who ever came back alive, who is enlisted to help Katniss and Peeta, and has a hidden depth that may surprise you; Peeta brings a certain amount of humour to the story, but also a wisdom that is beyond Katniss. Add to that Career Tributes, from Districts 1, 2, and 4 who have spent their lives training for the Games and see it as a great honour; a would-be love-triangle; and a main character you will feel for not because she's pathetic or a damsel in distress character (she's neither of these things!), but because she is feisty and fighting so hard to find justice in a world that has little, you can't help but hope she succeeds.

So what with the characters I felt I knew personally, a plot that seemed so real I came out of the book in a daze, and enough pace and action to keep me wanting more, I found myself reading this book at every possible moment and hating every second I spent away from it! I did not want to finish this book and finishing it was the most awful moment of the whole book! Possibly one of my favourite books of all time, Hunger Games is a trend-setter like Harry Potter and Twilight before it. It will define a generation of books and those who read it; if you don't read it you will be missing out on a HUGE moment.
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191 of 206 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 March 2012
The Hunger Games is on the way to our big screens (23 March in the UK and US) and therefore I thought it only right and proper to do what I should do more often when a movie comes out that's based on a book - read the book. I have the best intentions to read the trilogy in its entirety before the release because I suspect that there may be borrowings from Catching Fire and Mockingjay in the film adaptation but so far I have just read the one that people are talking about an awful lot - The Hunger Games.

In a near and dark future the bit of our world that we know as North America is now Panem. At its centre is The Capitol and around it are 12 Districts, each devoted to a different industry (such as mining or farming). But once there were was a District 13. This District was destroyed in an uprising against the President and his controllers. The result of this rebellion is that each year the remaining Districts must watch a son and a daughter fight to the death in front of their eyes in some kind of obscene reality television show called The Hunger Games. Two children, aged between 12 and 18, are put into an artificial environment, given limited weapons and food, and are aggravated and teased and prodded and goaded into slaughtering the others - or at least those who do not die of hunger or dehydration or mishap - until just one survives. This entertainment has been crafted with rituals and careful design into something appallingly oppressive yet ornate that mocks the fact that its victims are young and frightened children.

Our heroine is 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from the grottiest and poorest of the Districts, the twelfth. She is placed into the Games not because her name was called in the lottery but because the name that was called was that of her 12-year-old sister. Katniss protects her family and is its provider, illicitly hunting outside the District's wire and scraping at survival. It's inconceivable that this brave girl wouldn't protect her sister now. The boy who is called with her to `play' is Peeta, whom, it turns out, is a boy who once saved Katniss' life. And so begins the Hunger Games, as we see it through the detailed, evocative and frighteningly grown up narrative of Katniss.

The Hunger Games is essentially a novel in three parts: the run up to the Games, the Games themselves and their conclusion. We shift between District 12, with its soot-faced mining occupants and its hungry inhabitants, to the Capitol with its extravagant foods, rooms, trains and clothes. Finally, there is the artificial environment of the Games themselves, populated by the 24 youngsters and whatever other beings the Gamemakers introduce to stir things up a bit.

For me, the most interesting part of the novel wasn't the Games, which I didn't think went dark enough despite the horrors, but the world that Suzanne Collins has created here, with the Districts, the Capitol and its uneasy, sometimes voiceless inhabitants. The Games are just one element of a truly fascinating, well-evoked and quite alarming vision of the future where it's almost as if the parents have given up.

The Hunger Games is an excellent novel. It may sound long at over 450 pages but these are swift and fast and they rush past the eyes. The excitement never lets up and when it finally ends you'll be glad that there are another two novels to go in the trilogy. I am a big fan of Young Adult dystopian fiction and, while this isn't my favourite, it is certainly a novel I recommend to all ages, not least because we will soon see it brought to the big screen. Suzanne Collins has seen the finished film and, from the sound of it, it delivered with Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: First Class) doing a fine job bringing Katniss to life. But before you enjoy that, I urge you to enjoy the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2012
I wish i'd written a review back when i'd first read this...well over a year ago!! But i've recently re read it and saw the movie and I HAVE to leave a 5 star review!..it is that good!
There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said but I can honestly say it is one of the best if not THE best book i've ever read.
It did the one thing most books fail to do..it kept me reading until i stopped, it left me with a million questions about my own thoughts about the themes of the books and most of all I genuinly loved the characters.
I really can't do this book justice, theres simply too much to say!
I finished it questioning my thoughts on hunger, poverty, class, reality tv, government control..and so much more! It's a book that not only gives you something to think about..but it leaves you with a million things to think of and it lingures in your mind.
Whether your 13 years old or 93 years old, it's a book that's brilliantly written with themes and characters we can all relate to but most importantly it's so relevent today.
And not to mention finally heres a heroine i can get on board with..Katniss Everdeen! This girl can kick some series ass but don't get fooled into thinking she's unrealistic. That's the most likeable thing about Katniss, she has her flaws. She may be strong and firey (sometimes quite literally!) but she's also untrusting and sometimes moody, she has her ups and her downs but she's the most inspiring female role model i've come across to date.
Go out and buy the series, once you start you won't stop!
Let's not play games, I'm hungry :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2012
I'd heard a lot of enthusiasm for 'The Hunger Games' and thought I'd give it a go before the film is released, and although I was sceptical about its premise (more on that later) I did read it cover-to-cover (or whatever the kindle equivalent is... button-to-button?) and quite enjoyed it.

The most important thing to bear in mind with 'The Hunger Games' is that it is written for an older teenage market. Just so long as we're not expecting 'War and Peace' here. The narrative is well paced and the characters are developed to a nice extent while still leaving some mystery to their motivations (esp. Cinna). What I couldn't get used to is the first person present tense narration. It's a small niggle, and one that probably won't bother a lot of people, but I didn't really like it. Maybe I'm a traditionalist.

As a protagonist, Katniss Everdeen is likeable, interesting and complex, and she's a very good role model for teenage girls. I wish authors would stop writing female characters who are clearly very attractive but who pretend they don't realise how attractive they are, but again it's a small criticism. As is the fact that at one point Katniss is basically given amazing plastic surgery that removes all the scars from her body. What's wrong with a few scars? At this point the empowerment message kind of gets lost; it's just reaffirming the messages of physical and aesthetic perfection that pervade the media. Minor quibbles.

I can't say I'll be reading the sequel 'Catching Fire' any time soon, but that's more to do with the fact that 'The Hunger Games' isn't aimed at my age group. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to teenagers, but also any adults who have enjoyed the teen fiction that leaks into the adult mainstream, like 'Harry Potter'. 'The Hunger Games' is a good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2012
A series of natural disasters destroys North America. Natural resources and food are consequently seriously depleted. A new nation, Panem, is created and ruled by the Capitol (spelt with an O not an A). There were thirteen districts, each responsible for supplying Capitol with its needs (District 11 is agriculture, District 12 coal etc). Whilst the residents of Capitol live rich and decadent lifestyles, people in the districts live a life of poverty ...... every day is a fight for survival, where there is never enough food, where people die young and people are wary of being reported to the state (whose punishments are swift and inhumane). A violent uprising against Capitol culminates in them completely destroying District 13 as punishment. However, the rulers decide that a more lasting reminder of The Capitol's power is needed ...... and the Hunger Games are created.

Every year a lottery is held and a girl and boy from each district is selected to participate in The Hunger Games. Twenty four children between the ages of 12 and 18 are taken to an arena. The arena is a large landscape which can be constructed as a jungle, desert, glacier ...... dependent only on the whim of the Game Makers. The children are deposited in the arena and basically must kill every one of their competitors ..... only one child will be allowed to leave the arena alive. Every move is captured on camera and televised throughout Panem. The games are brutal. Violent. Cruel. Popular viewing in Capitol and compulsory viewing in The Districts.

Katniss has spent years fighting to survive. Living on The Seam (District 12) where there is never enough to eat, she learns to hunt and gather in the woods, with her Father as a mentor. He is killed and she learns to take responsibility for providing both her sister and her withdrawn Mother with food. She forms a bond with Gale and they hunt together. Help each other. Trust each other.

However, due to an unexpected turn at The Reaping (the lottery) Katniss finds herself taken to the arena with the Baker's son ..... a boy she hardly knows, other than his once generous gift of bread when she was literally starving. The two join twenty two other young people from the other districts and know that only one can win. Only one will be allowed to live.

This book was a great read. Katniss has led a tough life and despite the challenges life throws at her, she fights to provide for her family. I formed an immediate attachment to the 16 year old Katniss. She is a real "tough cookie" with a soft and tender centre. She was trying to survive in a world that crushes the weak, whilst attempting to resolve her conflicted feelings about the people she knew. Katniss is determined to never marry or have children as she cannot bear the thought of them having to endure The Hunger Games.

She finds herself transported from a life where finding food is the first priority to one where her very life is in danger every minute of every day and night. In a place where the more tortuous and prolonged a death is, the happier the Game Makers are, as it ensures them a larger viewing public. Life is no longer as simple as it once was. Alliances are formed and broken. Decisions need to be made about trust, decisions that could cost her life. And she must learn to kill ...... or be killed.

A great book that that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The plot runs smoothly, increasing in tempo and making it hard to put down. The characters are well written, well rounded and engaging. The story is a real page turner and I purchased and started reading the sequel as soon as I had finished this!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I read this book when my daughter (age 11) recommended it. The next day we bought the next two books in the series. I think I read all three books in the series in a week.

The three books in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins are book 1 The Hunger Games, book 2 Catching Fire and book 3 Mockingjay.

The Hunger Games tells the story future earth society where post some unexplained apocalypse a new state of Panem has arisen, one state twelve districts, each district is subservient to the Capital and has its own specialist activity. District 12 is the coal mining district.

Living in abject poverty, they mine coal for it to be despatched to the Capital. Fod is in short supply, and in the opening sequence the heroine Katniss Everdeen is shown hunting for food with a bow and arrow. The story starts on the day of the reaping, the day two teens between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen at random to join the Hunger Games of the title. Bot Katniss, but her 12 year sisters is chosen, and Katniss has to act, and so the story begins...

From the poverty of District 12 to the excessive luxury of the capital to the brutality of the Hunger Games. This book has a compelling forward momentum that makes it an unputdownable read.

I read the book in 36 hours flat, and was astonished by its vast vistas and effortless portrayal of an alien civilisation. It reminded me of Angela Carter: The Handmaid's Tale, most of all, but I loved the way it captured the essence of our own time with its games shows contests and sometimes extremely cruel reality TV.

A tour de force by Suzanne Collins. If you have not read it, then clear some time in your diary and do so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2013
I was seriously thinking of passing on writing a review about Suzanne Collins` The Hunger Games. My feelings about the book were so extreme and contradictory that I had some difficulty coming to terms with them. Frankly, when you think about it, the story line is repulsive. It's a cross between Roman gladiator fights in which the participants in the arena are teenagers who fight to the death in games that are a vehicle of supreme repression of human spirit and a television reality show in which the audience delights in children ripping themselves apart with the collusion of the producers of the show. The rules of the game make any thought of kindness, of kinship, of friendship, or of solidarity a dreadful risk lest it be as a strategy to gain the deadly upper hand.

No doubt it is this extreme situation that makes us identify so strongly with the main protagonist, Katniss, in her fight against oppression. I say fight against oppression, but in reality, despite her being a natural rebel, her fight in many ways is limited to a desperate attempt to survive. Such are the odds against her, I imagine you saying. And you'd no doubt be right. I suppose her role as a rebel will evolve and grow in the remaining two books which I have yet to read.

Having said that, at no time, as a reader, did I find the story repulsive. At no time was I so shocked that I put the book down in disgust. On the contrary. I was totally captivated by the story from the outset and greatly enjoyed reading it. Does that make me akin to the blood-thirsty TV spectators of the Games? In my defence and that of most readers, I imagine, let it be said that I sided with the rebel not the Game organisers or the authorities. When we reached the death of the youngest competitor that Katniss had befriended despite the cut-throat atmosphere of the Games I broke down and cried as I imagine did many others, cued in by both the organisers of the Games and the author. And as for Katniss, there was no relief for me as a reader in reaching the end of the story with her as the survivor and triumphant winner. The story left me feeling somewhat estranged from myself and the world around me. On reflexion, my feelings were akin to those I get on the rare occasions when I watch a TV programme about a subject that deeply disturbs me. I feel both invaded and violated in some way. I doubt if I will be able to allay that feeling by reading on, but read on I certainly will.

I went back and re-read the beginning in the cool light of dawn, more as a writer than a reader, trying to ascertain if the language used contributed to the impact of the story. I was struck by the low-key nature of the language used. No fancy stuff, just the words the story needed. The conclusion I reached was that the skill of the storyteller, in this case, was to use such language that it in no way obstructed the flow of the story but rather carried us, the readers, along with it until we were cast ashore et the end, dazed and wondering what had happened to us.

Review first published on Secret Paths: http://about-books.secret-paths.com/?p=24
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2013
I'll admit, I watched the film first and was put off the book to be honest; I found the film to have quite weak plot points and characters that weren't developed enough, but as I owned the first book in the series, I decided to give it a try and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!

The writing style, initially, put me off a bit. The first person present tense was something that I had never encountered before but I found that I got used to it after a chapter or so. It helped the reader to sympathise with Katniss and draw you into the action. I didn't particularly like Katniss because I found that she wasn't overly emotional when perhaps she should have been but I understand that her background and circumstance really has affected her in that way.

I really liked the world building of this dystopian society. The contrast between the Capitol and the Districts really made me think about the world we live in today and made me question whether this could actually happen in the future. The materialistic attitudes and lifestyles of the Capitol are almost an extreme version of the current western world.

I wasn't a fan of the romantic side of the story with regards to Peeta and Katniss but I think that it was an interesting spin on the Hunger Games and think that in the sequels it could be developed further. There were also some cringe-worthy sentences in the book, especially one about her food tasting salty like her tears. I just found sentences like this to be extremely jarring to the flow of the otherwise brilliant writing.

Although it would have been better if the reader heard from other characters' points of view, I found the action to hold my interest and was very tense at points, captivating me into the story and making me want to keep reading.

Overall, this book surprised me a lot in it's brutality and adventurous themes. If you haven't read this yet, and are putting it off for some reason, or avoiding it because you didn't like the film, I would thoroughly recommend that you try this first book for yourself, and I am certain that you won't be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
In a dystopian future world, a plentiful society exists in a place called the Capitol which oversees 12 poverty-stricken Districts to produce specific products to maintain their charmed lives. As a way of re-affirming their dominance over the Districts (as well as provide a sadistic entertainment to the twisted rulers), they demand 2 "tributes" in the form of one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 to travel to the Capitol and be placed in a vast arena to survive and fight to the death. These televised trials are called "The Hunger Games". This is the story of a 16 year old girl called Katniss Everdeen from District 12 who is one of the chosen.

I heard about this book a few years ago in Stephen King's Entertainment Weekly column but I decided not to read it as it was labelled "Young Adult" (YA) (I'm not a teenager) and because it seemed like a knockoff "Battle Royale", a superb Japanese film I'd seen in 2000 which has a very similar premise. Having read the book, in hindsight both of these reasons were ridiculous. The YA label is arbitrary at best and, reading it, I couldn't understand why this book is considered to be a teen book and not one for adults. Maybe the lack of swearing, sex, and overly descriptive violent scenes?

And the "Battle Royale" argument (which seems to bother a number of reviewers), well was that the first book to feature kids on an island killing each other? Has no-one read "Lord of the Flies"? Shirley Jackson wrote maybe the best haunted house novel with "The Haunting of Hill House" - does that mean Richard Matheson's "Hell House" or Stephen King's "The Shining" are invalid because they followed in her wake? Or Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We" preceded both Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", so do we discount Huxley and Orwell entirely? Just because a concept has been done before, doesn't mean it can't be done again - and done better at that.

"The Hunger Games" is an exceptionally thrilling read. Suzanne Collins has crafted a compelling portrait of a world unrecognisable to our own, both futuristic and historic at varying times, but the best part of the book is, as it should be, the Games itself. Once Katniss enters the arena with the 23 other teens, I couldn't stop reading and finished the book on my second sitting, it was that exhilarating to read. Her battle to survive both on the basic level of eating and drinking what she could find, while escaping her would-be murderers, was a unique reading experience that I've never come across before and Collins does a fantastic writing job throughout. The survival part of the book echoed another excellent series of YA books I read when I was a teenager, Gary Paulsen's "Hatchet" books (highly recommended by the way), while the many Roman references made it seem like an extended teen "Gladiator".

I won't give away anything about the story here but suffice it to say that there are betrayals and killings that you don't see coming, and constant suspense throughout (even though you know Katniss makes it). Like I say, I don't know why this isn't considered an adult book but any adults reading this review should give this novel a go, ignore the YA label, it's very well written, very well-conceived, and an amazing action-thriller with elements of sci-fi thrown in. Excellent fun, I bought the other two books immediately after finishing this and can't wait to find out how this series continues.
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