Kim's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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Apr 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook, ya-fiction
Read from April 17 to 20, 2012


This is yet another novel which would not have come to my attention but for Goodreads and I would not have chosen to read it had it not been for the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the book of my Goodreads friends. I'm so glad that I did.

For me, the most compelling aspect of the novel is what it says about our society. From the idea that rich and powerful people live on what is produced by poor people far away, to the concept of people being entertained by a reality television program the objective of which is survival at the expense of other contestants, to the depiction of a great “sporting” contest in which the success or failure of the contestants depends on their ability to attract wealthy sponsors, to the use of children killing other children as a weapon of control, these are all things that happen in the real world, right now. Certainly, the images are exaggerated*, but this only brings the reality of our world into sharper relief.

I was engaged with the narrative from the very beginning. Although initially disappointed with Carolyn McCormick’s narration – I don’t think she does a great job with a number of the characters - I left my irritation with the narrator behind and fully entered the world of the novel. The details of the world are clever. For example, the depiction of the relationship between the Capitol and the Districts as akin to the relationship between ancient Rome and its empire is simply but effectively achieved by calling children who are sent to the Capitol to fight to the death in the Hunger Games “tributes” and by giving the Capitol’s inhabitants Latin names.

Collins has also done well with the development of her characters. The novel is narrated by the sixteen-year-old heroine, Katniss Everdeen to whom Collins gives a very believable voice. Katniss is prickly, sullen and quite clueless about her own emotions, but she is smart, loyal and resourceful. It is interesting to watch her grow from resigned acceptance of the system in which she lives in general and of the Hunger Games in particular, to clarity about what those things represent, culminating in her light bulb moment, (view spoiler). Other characters are also well realised. This is particularly true of Haymitch, the alcoholic mentor and former Hunger Games champion, who shows the classic signs of a veteran with combat stress reaction.

Successfully pulling off a first person, present tense narrative is no easy feat, given that the point of view has to remain solely that of the narrator. Collins achieves this without faltering. While Katniss speculates about what she can’t see and doesn’t know, the perspective remains hers. Even within the limitations imposed by this narrative style, Collins is able to let the reader know more than her heroine is aware of.

As is to be expected from the subject matter, the novel contains graphic descriptions of violence. However, there is nothing about this which either encourages or glorifies violence - quite the contrary. The horrific situation in which the participants in the Hunger Games find themselves speaks for itself. Making choices in situations of adversity, friendship, loyalty and above all, what it means to be human are what the novel is really about.

Overall, I found this audiobook riveting to listen to. The only reason I’m glad not to have read the book when it was first published is that I can go on to the second volume of the trilogy without delay.

*There is no exaggeration in relation to the issue of children killing children. The plight of child soldiers has had a lot of exposure in social media in recent times. A friend of mine who works for the United Nations was posted in Uganda a few years ago, where his task was to re-unite child soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army with their families and communities. The sheer horror of what those children experienced trumps any fictional account of violence committed by and against children.
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Lisa Vegan Great review, Kim. I'm glad you liked it. I'll be interested in your opinion of the second and third books.


message 2: by Sunny12 (new)

Sunny12 Its a really great review, Kim. I'm going to add it to my list. Does your friend still work for the UN ?


message 3: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Thanks, Simran. Our friend is still with the UN, Simran. He's just finishing up a posting with the World Food Program.


message 4: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Lisa wrote: "Great review, Kim. I'm glad you liked it. I'll be interested in your opinion of the second and third books."

Thanks Lisa. I started listening to Catching Fire today. Couldn't wait!


message 5: by Sunny12 (new)

Sunny12 Kim, I can think of so many questions I'd like to ask you about him & his job :) What does he do exactly, if you don't mind my asking ?


message 6: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Simran wrote: "Kim, I can think of so many questions I'd like to ask you about him & his job :) What does he do exactly, if you don't mind my asking ?"

Simran, I'll send you a PM re this some time tomorrow. I'm just heading for bed. If you don't hear from me during the day, remind me!


message 7: by Sunny12 (new)

Sunny12 Cool, goodnight :)


message 8: by Gary (new)

Gary  the Bookworm Kim,

I also am riveted by the story and your review helped me to formulate an an appropriate intellectual response when all my friends express their shock that I'm even reading this, let alone loving it. I've been so caught up in the story that I haven't yet tried to figure out why it's so satisfying. Thanks for an excellent analysis.


message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Gary wrote: "Kim,

I also am riveted by the story and your review helped me to formulate an an appropriate intellectual response when all my friends express their shock that I'm even reading this ..."


Thank you, Gary. A number of my friends have written great reviews. If you want arguments to convince your friends that this is a book worth reading, you might like to check out my friend Abigail's review. She is a wonderfully insightful reader and reviewer.


Tracey Excellent review, Kim - still working on mine. I was so blown away by the whole trilogy it left me (me!) kind of speechless.


message 11: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Tracey wrote: "Excellent review, Kim - still working on mine. I was so blown away by the whole trilogy it left me (me!) kind of speechless."

I'm looking forward to you retrieving your speech and posting a review!


message 12: by Mary (new)

Mary Gilligan-Nolan My daughter has just finished all three and is insisting I read them.


message 13: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Mary wrote: "My daughter has just finished all three and is insisting I read them."

They're thrillers, Mary, so I think you'd probably like them.


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