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Shocking, brilliant, passionate, compelling and unputdownable. You could make a list four times as long as this and it would all be true. The Hunger Games is one of the most brilliant young adult novels of recent years, perfectly mixing character, excitement and a brutal science-fiction premise.

Post-apocalyptic gladiatorial games have got a long and honourable history in science-fiction, but The Hunger Games takes the notion into a new space. A lot of this is because of the really close description of the protagonist Katniss. She is an utterly believable, completely riveting character who carries the story from beginning to end with her un-self aware I narrative.

This is a very well judged book. Author Suzanne Collins never allows the gore to become gratuitous, keeping all the deaths human and generating at least momentary sympathy for even the most unsympathetic characters. At the same time, she never lets any part of the plot repeat, and never lets the tension subside.

With echoes of The Dispossessed and The Running Man and a tradition going back to the Roman gladiatorial games, the Hunger Games manages to conjure up something new and entirely magical in what might be seen as a worn-out plot premise. It's quite simply the best new science fiction for young adults I've read in years.
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on 19 November 2013
I would have loved this as a teenager (probably around 11-14) and enjoyed it now as a gripping read, but also found it, in parts, frustratingly simplistic. There's no need to re-cap the story, and Collins does a great imaginative job of creating the Games from a mix of Greek myth, Roman history, and modern reality TV. I liked Katniss, too, and enjoyed her sometimes barbed comments and behaviour.

But for all the good stuff - and there are some great ideas at work here - there's also an overwhelming dependency on genre cliches (the obligatory teen love triangle <groan>). Characterisation is a bit hit-and-miss, and things happen that I was never quite able to believe in.

So, overall, there's enough good stuff here, especially in the first book, to just tip this over into the 4-star category for me. But it doesn't have the more subtle imagination, detailed writing, maturer politics and deeper characterisation that is making Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy such a thrilling current read for me. Recommended as an exciting though easy read.
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on 22 October 2012
Let me just say that the Hunger Games - Book 1 - was amazing, and one of the best books I have ever read. The tight narrative, fast paced action, great characters and yes - a believable story, gripped me on every page.

So, Catching Fire was always going to struggle to match that. So I will rate it four stars, even though it may only deserve three. My reasoning is based on rating it as a book on its own, which you can't do, in all fairness.

This is a trilogy, so if we take the three boos as one whole story, then Catching Fire will stand up better, I hope.

The problem with this book, is that the pace seems rather lopsided. In the Hunger Games, the pace built up like a crescendo, and was incredibly gripping and dramatic.

In Catching Fire, it struggles to know where it is going, before really picking up the pace in the final third. Perhaps few stories could keep up the intensity of the Hunger Games, so I will reserve having a go at this until I have read Mockingjay, the third in the series.

Some have criticised Miss Collin's writing style. But this is first person - we are a fly on Katniss' shoulder, so we should expect the writing in this matter. It didn't bother me at all like it bothered others.

All in all, Catching Fire is well written, has great characters, and is described rather well. You do feel like you are there. The Peeta / Gale angle isn't resolved here, perhaps that will be in the final book. I'd like to see President Snow get what's coming to him, but knowing Miss Collin's ability to twist a twisted tale, that may not happen at all.

Do I hope for a happy ending? Well I think Katniss deserves it. She comes across as a good heroine, and not whiny as some say.

So - a really good go at emulating the first book, but fell a bit short.
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on 5 December 2013
I wasn't sure about buying this book as there was so much hype it actually put me off, I thought I would be bound to think it was over rated.I was wrong,I thought it was a great adventure, well written and I thought the central characters were great.I think the world that the author created was extremely scary, and well thought out.I thought the tension when the games were being played was outstanding, and although I'm not in the intended age group for these books it didn't matter.However, I wish I hadn't read the whole lot one after the other,I think I should have taken a break after the second book and read some thing else because I was struggling a little towards the end I think possibly it could have been tightened up a little, but on the other hand it might have been me overdosing on the books.I did want to find out the ending and I think I may have been a little impatient.Overall I think the books are brilliant.
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on 15 December 2013
Seen the film and now read the book. The film depicts a totally different vision to that of the one you make from the book which effectively sees you getting double value! The film is outstanding - the book is even better. Despite seeing the film first, the book still gave a slightly different take on the story and was not a disappointment. I have seen the first 2 films and read the first 2 books. Cant wait for the 3rd film to come out (not for a few years yet) so i will enjoy reading the book first. If it is written like the first 2 then i am sure it will not detract from the film.
If you have not seen the films yet - read the books first, then watch the films as it will help give a deeper meaning to the films.
Summary - Highly recommend all books in this amazing trilogy which are both suitable and recommended for most ages of reader.
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on 23 April 2014
Only read the first two books so far, and have seen both the films too, and the books have so much more detail and are quite different from the films in many ways, you learn a lot more about each character, and why they choose to take each decision the make in the games or even back home, you understand the whole story a lot better than you do from simply watching the film which makes you love the story even more than before, and overall is just very well paced and is something you just can't put down!

Just about to start the third book now, I'm not even usually a book reader, the last book I read was about a year ago, then before that I hadn't read one for about 3 years, I just don't read books at all, they bore me, but these books are great, made me wanna start reading, and to be honest, as much as I'm looking forward to finishing the third book now, I'll be sad when it's over because I'll have nothing to read now!
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on 17 May 2012
I still can't make my mind up about these books. They have been a very pleasant surprise to me and I have not been able to put them down. My daily commute to and from University seems to have washed away since I started reading these. Yet, in a lot of ways they also leave me wanting something more. Maybe it is the feeling that while Katniss is one tough so and so, she also makes think she should come out of her shell more and start kicking some ass. She is decent with a bow yes but she just lacks something, maybe it is the image or her decisions but it makes her seem frail and weak, which when it is needed can be a daring problem to tug at your emotions in any story but this seems to stretch on and on and I just feel like there is a lot more potential from her as a character. Yet I have a feeling it will never come, and that is probably what was intended when it was written, but still not a very satisfying realisation (especially since I will 100% need to buy the next book to find out how it ends). The world is full of spineless morons, is it too much to ask to have someone with a little bit of flavour when your only limit is imagination?
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on 18 December 2014
I haven't seen the films based on this trilogy so I had no preconceived ideas about them. I have read the first one and now am reading this. My daughter recommended them and I am thoroughly hooked! Not always a comfortable read, and they certainly make you think but are utterly captivating. I have often said that there is no such thing as a children's book; there are books that are unsuitable for children, for various reasons, but very good books aimed at younger readers are often wonderful for everyone.(Goodnight Mr Tom for example) This is one of those. Buy it!
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on 23 October 2013
I have probably slept as little as katniss, Fox face and the contestants in the games since I started this wonderful book. I am 40 so avoided these books thinking they weren't for me which was a grave error. I loved this book more than I've loved a book for some time, and I'm never without a book. I read at least a book a week and have since I was 8, that's a lot of books. This one is in my top 5 ever and at the moment, the moment of having literally just finished it, holds the top spot. I must dash cos I can't wait to start book 2. If you're reading this review and for whatever reason are unsure if this book is for you, then please trust me and at the very least download the free sample from the reading app of choice. I bet you will not look back for a second. Enjoy :)
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on 18 May 2016
Katniss doesn't have long to rest on her laurels as a Hunger Games victor before President Snow's administration comes up with a plan for a special anniversary Hunger Games to try to dispose of her and most of the previous Champions, seen as a potential focus of rebellion. She has unexpected allies, though, and things don't go according to his plans, setting the scene for the final book.
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