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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I don’t read Young Adult fiction, my introduction said. Yet in a rare occasion I do, when there is too much hype generated from the book. Interestingly publishers and movie producers alike are finding ways to tap into the market of Young Adult, to create a cult-like fan club out of young people to stories that are unmistakenly dark and sinister, with an angry protagonist at the heart of the story.

I’m referring to the only three Young Adult series that I have read: The Harry Potters series, Twilight saga and now The Hunger Games series. Lets start with a quick synopsis, as I think by now everyone has read enough reviews or movie snippets to know what this book is all about.

In the place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games. An annual affair that takes reality show to the extreme, by watching adolescents release into the arena and fight to death, until the last boy or girl standing.

When young Prim’s name was called out from the draw of the hat for District 12, her sister, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to fight in her sister’s place. Knowing full well that her sister wouldn’t stand a chance against all the bigger contestants. Katniss has been closer to death than Prim, her hunting and survival skills that she harnesses daily may help her stay alive in the arena.

I can’t win. Prim must know that in her heart. The competition will be far beyond my abilities. Kids from wealthier districts, where winning is a huge honour, who’ve been trained their whole lives for this. Boys who are two to three times my size. Girls who know twenty different ways to kill you with a knife. Oh, there’ll be people like me, too. People to weed out before the real fun begins. – page 44

The other boy called out from District 12 is Peeta Mellark. Peeta is the baker’s son, a person that spared Katniss some bread in the moment of her extreme starvation and saved her life. Would Katniss kill a boy who has done her a favour?

There is a very sick system at work, mostly against the contestants. The contestants, which are called tributes, are let loose in the arena which is similar to a forest setting, with lakes, streams, fields, tall trees and Cornucopia with food supplies. First, the tributes risk their lives to make a mad dash for the food, weapons and backpacks. If they have sponsors, (bearing in mind, this is also a popular contest as the audience is watching) the tribute gets food, medicine and anything that they would wish for in a form of a silver parachute descending from the sky. If tributes decided to hide out and will their days away, the Gamemakers will concoct disasters or bait, be it rain, flood, fire, mutants and everything else to lure the tributes out from their lair to meet for a confrontation. When a tribute dies, the other tributes have to clear the ground and a hovercraft will be sent oversky to retrieve the body out of the arena and the cannon will be fired with the dead tribute’s face on display.

This is a game of strategy, of making alliances for now knowing full well you will kill them later. A game of using your strengths and forest survival skills to outwit the other tributes. It’s not the biggest size who will, but the smartest.

It was Preeta’s own ignorance that brought her down. I’ve spent so much time making sure I don’t underestimate my opponents that I’ve forgotten it’s just as dangerous to overestimate the them as well. – page 394

I told my friends I hate reading about children killing each other. I dislike Lord of the Flies and I’m not sure if I’ll read Battle Royale; but The Hunger Games is something else. I love reading about a strong heroine character, especially one that display great archery skills (I owe my infatuation to bow and arrows from watching Robin Hood the TV series in my adolescence and me spending the whole afternoon shooting arrows in Club Med in 1996!). There are talks about fashion, about spread of food, about personalities that prepares her for big time on TV, Cinna the fashion designer, Haymitch the District 12 past drunken winner of the Hunger Games. I especially like reading about the harsh reality of Katniss harsh life and hunting days in District 12, especially frightening is to read about Katniss being released to the arena as you would imagine a gladiator being released to the arena to fight the lions.

After that, the pages just flew by as one war strategy after another is unveiled as Katniss fought her way for survival. One especially has to watch out for the Careers, the boys and girls from wealthier districts who have spent all their lives training and practising for the Hunger Games. To add to the complication of the game, Katniss and Peeta have to be “on-screen” lovers who may have to kill each other at the end. What will Katniss do? Will she win the game?

I didn’t expect to like this better than the other YA fiction I have read but this is truly very clever book. I wasn’t spare on the blood and gore of wounds and festered flesh, the brutal fighting and killing continues from the half of the book onwards but the book is really clever. I guess Collins growing up as a daughter of military officer paid off in the big way. We now have a story of fighting strategy and execution that would put spy thrillers and war reports to shame, and enough heart and emotions to make it on top of the romance chart. The book is also about making choices that weigh survival against humanity; life against love, which made me think that we are a fortunate lot to be thinking about trivial things other than our next meal!

Highly recommended for those who are curious about what is all the fuss about the book and the movie!


Paperback. Publisher: Scholastic 2012; Length: 454 pages; Setting: Dystopia North America. Source: Reading Library copy. Finished reading at: 7th May 2012.

About the writer:

Suzanne Collins is an American television writer and novelist, best known for writing The Hunger Games series (which comprises The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay).

Collins was born on August 10, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the daughter of an U.S. Air Force officer who served in the Vietnam War. As the daughter of a military officer, she and her family were constantly moving. She spent her childhood in the eastern U.S. She attended high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where she was a Theater Arts major. She graduated from Indiana University with a double major in Drama and Telecommunications.


About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


22 thoughts on “The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

  1. I’m glad you finally read this and liked it! I really look forward to seeing what you think of the next two books.

    Posted by jessicabookworm | May 7, 2012, 5:26 pm
  2. I hope this helps convert you to read more YA fiction! A lot of it is really very good! :–)

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | May 9, 2012, 12:42 am
    • Jill,
      Anymore that you can recommend to me? besides the three series mentioned.

      Posted by JoV | May 9, 2012, 8:40 am
      • Well I love The Chaos Series by Patrick Ness (first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go). I think it is terrific, but it takes a bit to get used to in the first book. And I would recommend John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and Jellicoe Road by the Australian author Melina Marchetta. There are a bunch of other dystopias I like but The Chaos Series is the most unique, and includes the most issues besides the usual evil government and love triangle! :–)

        Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | May 9, 2012, 10:59 am
  3. Hi JoV, I too am reading The Hunger Games (my kid passed it on to me)–your review is encouraging me to get back to finishing it. You have a fine blog.
    Btw, I read your para at the bottom–in reply, I’d like to say that to my ear JoV’s Book Pyramid sounds better than plain Book Pyramid. It rings better, even looks better.

    Posted by rukmani anandani | May 13, 2012, 1:58 am
  4. I am also one of the last few on this planet who hasn’t yet read this book,Jo. If you have, then I think I must surely do so!

    Posted by Soul Muser | May 13, 2012, 2:45 am
    • Soul,
      I’m curious about the book and must say my curiosity is rewarded. It’s a well written book with a great plot, one that appeals to both young adults and adults. Hope to watch the movie soon!

      Posted by JoV | May 13, 2012, 9:37 am
  5. Jo, how have you been? Haha, I, too, rarely read YA, especially fantasy etc, and I don’t think this oneis for me. But it’s always interesting to try again and find you’ve liked something you woulnd’t usually read 🙂 Have you seen the film? Hope you had a great weekend 🙂

    Posted by Bina | May 13, 2012, 8:26 pm
  6. The cleverness of the plot was exactly what I liked about this series. I felt that the Hunger Games arena was more ingenious in the second book, so I’ll be waiting to hear what you think of it.

    Posted by Athira | May 18, 2012, 2:54 am
  7. I don’t read Harry Potter. Certainly not Twilight Saga. Maybe just the genre. I can’t really get into these young adult fantasy book.

    Lord of the Flies is a classic though. In your opinion, do you reckon The Hunger Games will be a class like LotF half a century later?

    On a side note, I remember reading an entry about the mathematics within The Hunger Games. It does sound interesting. On food rationing versus the balloting.

    Oh, of course, I do find the movie adaption engaging as well!

    Posted by Wilfrid | May 21, 2012, 1:23 am
    • Wilfrid,
      Surprise to hear you don’t read Harry Potter! The Hunger Games may be a classic, I believe so. 🙂
      The maths within The Hunger Games, what maths? I may have missed that. I got to watch the movie!

      Posted by JoV | May 22, 2012, 8:56 pm
  8. If you like this one… I really really can’t recommend Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series enough. It features a female assassin, so a strong and kick ass heroine, but oh, oh, oh. I love the series so much more than the Hunger Games. I can’t help but push it a bit more 😉

    Posted by amymckie | May 28, 2012, 3:03 pm


  1. Pingback: It’s a wrap! June 2012 « JoV's Book Pyramid - July 5, 2012

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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