The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesReview by Kate Shaw

This book was originally marketed for teens, but it is now wildly popular among adults and adult reading groups. It is a fast-paced and imaginative view of a dystopian society. America is now a country called Panem, derived of a capital city and 12 (once 13) districts. After district 13 attempted an uprising against the powerful capital, the rebels were wiped out and the capital instilled “The Hunger Games” to remind the districts of the devastation that resulted from the unsuccessful campaign. For 70 + years now, each district must enter their children, ages 12-18 into a lottery. Two are chosen, one male and one female, to enter into the Hunger Games, a televised to-the-death battle which changes yearly. Twenty four tributes enter the games, not knowing what challenges or terrain they will face, but only one can survive to be crowned the winner. This first book in the Hunger Games trilogy introduces readers to Katniss Everdeen’s epic journey of self-discovery.

This book is extraordinarily written, with deep characters that become very real to the reader. We are caught up in the struggle to understand the Hunger Games, as well as the children who are sent there to be warriors. Publishers Weekly hit the nail on the head: “It’s a credit to Collins’s skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable.” In contrast to Katniss, we also get to know her District 12 counterpart, Peeta, whose sweetness of temper and own personal agenda make him a dangerous competitor.

The Hunger Games is rich with political intrigue, a touch of romance, and a bird’s eye view at what horrors people can inflict on one another for “entertainment.” I personally read the trilogy so quickly that I felt I must have missed things and had to reread sections until I was satisfied. Collins successfully hooks the reader and we struggle along with Katniss to grasp the multifaceted strategies of the games. This book is fascinating and honestly, a little scary due to the fact that it’s not terribly difficult to believe that the human race can sink to this level. A must-read, whether or not you’ve seen the films. Try The Hunger Games, surely you’ll be wanting to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay too.

The films are strong adaptations, giving us a look at the machinations behind the scenes of the dreaded games and well worth the watch!  Casting is very strong, Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss, Josh Hutcherson is very moving as “the boy with the bread” Peeta, and Woody Harrelson is spot-on as former games winner, Haymitch Abernathy.  Special shout out to Elizabeth Banks as the incorrigible Effie and Lenny Kravitz (you read that right) as Katniss’ understated ally Cinna.

Check availability on The Hunger Games  •  Check availability on The Hunger Games DVD

Check availability on Catching Fire  •  Check availability on Catching Fire DVD

Check availability on Mockingjay  •  Check availability on Mockingjay: Part One DVD

About the Reviewer: Kate Shaw has been a librarian at Tredyffrin Public Library and Paoli Library since 2011. She read The Hunger Games for the third time this year and loved it just as much this time around.  She is on Team Peeta.