Nataliya's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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Dec 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: awesome-kickass-heroines, dystopia-postapocalyptic, for-my-future-hypothetical-daughter, i-also-saw-the-film, first-in-a-series
Recommended for: Fans of GOOD YA dystopias
Read from December 06 to 07, 2010 — I own a copy


Suzanne Collins has balls ovaries of steel to make us willingly cheer for a teenage girl to kill other children. In a YA book.
Two reasons why this book rocks: (a) It is not Twilight, and (b) I really hate reality shows.

Seriously, how long would it take for reality shows to evolve from "Survivor" to "Hunger Games"?

Yes, this book is full of imperfections. It often requires a strenuous suspension of disbelief. It can cause a painful amount of eye-rolling and shaking fist at the book pages. Its style is choppy and the first-person present tense gets annoying. The story is simple, and the message is heavy-handed. But is does set a better example for young impressionable pre-teens than gushing stories about sparkly co-dependency. And here is an obligatory taken out of contest Twilight-bashing quote:
“But just the fact that he was sparkling leads me to doubt everything that happened.”
So why did I add it to my to-read list for my future (hypothetical) daughter? Because Katniss is cool and a badass. She is fierce, independent, resourceful, intelligent, and skilled. She is loyal to her friends and family. She is a survivor. She will never allow a guy to carry her around as though she is a delicate flower. She skewers that apple in the pig's mouth with an arrow in front of the Gamemakers in the most awesome way imaginable. For all that, I love this imperfect, surly, prickly, sullen and perpetually pissed-off, quick to jump to judgment, and sometimes clueless girl.



And I love this book because - despite The Hunger Games being YA literature that seems to hinge on the romantic puppy love - the happiness of Katniss does not revolve solely around a cute male lead. Yes, there is a (hated) love triangle here *eyeroll* but there are other issues that occupy Katniss' mind - such as the survival of her friends, family, and herself rather than just pining over a cute boy. (*)
* Unlike other so-called "books", where a boyfriend of a few months dumping you is a valid reason for catatonia and almost-suicide.(**)

** And yet we still get readers who divide themselves into the incredibly annoying "Team Peeta" and "Team Gale". (***)

*** Because clearly nothing else ever matters besides sappy love - in a book about children murdering each other. *eyeroll*



Now, here is what bugged me about the romance that DID make it into the book. There is actually a LOST OPPORTUNITY here to have a YA book where people CAN be just friends, where devotion and loyalty stem from friendship and respect and not from attraction.

Katniss and Peeta could have had plenty of other reasons to care for each other that don't include puppy love - they are from the same district, same school, he gave her that bread, she trades with his dad, etc. But alas, that did not happen. I understand that Collins had to cater to the way that YA publishers and Hollywood tend to view us, the female audience. At least Katniss escapes the perils of insta-love. But poor Peeta - all of his actions are colored by him being "Lover Boy", and I think it detracts from his personality and reduces him from a kind compassionate person to a fool in love who'd do anything for Katniss only because of his physical attraction to her. Yeah...

...Rue...Oh, Rue...

Now, back to the GOOD. Rue, my favorite character. Little, fragile, almost-too-perfect Rue who was clearly doomed from the start. Who despite her appearance was neither weak nor helpless. Whose (view spoiler) brought the human side to Katniss (who, until that point, was almost bordering on robotic). There was real grief and anger and sadness in that scene, and from that point on I began to care.

Suzanne Collins strictly follows the "show, don't tell" rule. (Actually, she does it to such an extent that the book reads almost like a screenplay.) The plot moves along at a fast pace, only slowing down a bit in the drawn out Capitol makeover and cave makeout sessions. Collins does not shy away from gruesome scenes, making many parts of the book hit home.
----------
I enjoyed it despite the imperfections. Katniss easily beats the majority of the popular YA heroines. And because of all her coolness, this gets 3.75 stars.
"Exactly how am I supposed to work in a thank-you in there? Somehow it just won't seem sincere if I'm trying to slit his throat."
-----------------------------------------
EDITED TO ADD:
So I saw the movie today. All I have to say - Suzanne Collins may have given life to Katniss, but Jennifer Lawrence definitely gave her heart. Lawrence's Katniss has such emotional depth, and she brings such truthfulness to her character. Excellent adaptation with a great balance of tugging on the heartstrings and darkness.

I CRIED TWICE (yes, apparently I am less of a cynic than I thought).
First time - when Katniss volunteers for Prim and people salute her. I JUST CHOKED UP. It felt so real. I have a brother who is much younger than me, and all I could think at that moment was how I would do the exact same thing for him WITHOUT ANY HESITATION. It wouldn't even be a choice. Just like it wasn't for Katniss. *Sob*
The second time I teared up - Rue. Oh Rue... And the salute from District 11 - so powerful and so touching. I...I...I just can't...

PLEASE EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO AND GRAB A BOX OF TISSUES. OR TWO. OR TEN. *SOB*

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 119) (119 new)


Jason Koivu Nice review Nataliya! Your comment about Survivor devolving into The Hunger Games reminded me of a great movie you might enjoy called Series 7. Early on in the reality show crazy the movie's creators thought of that very concept and made a fairly funny/captivating/horrifying film about it.


Nataliya Jason, I've never heard about that movie before. Maybe I'll check it out.


Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews) I love this review! In hindsight, I think I forgave a lot of HG's faults because I was so caught up in Katniss's inner monologue. There are issues here that fans tend to overlook in favor of Team X or Y but this is an entertaining book. Ovaries of steel, indeed.


Richard Derus I couldn't even make 20pp in this book. I'm really glad you liked it so much, and after your very good review, I don't feel any further need to read it. Or see the movie. You are now officially the Goddess of My Idolatry for saving me from it!


Catie Great review! I love what you said about allowing Peeta and Katniss to have a strong friendship bond - I think that's something that's missing from YA in general. Have you read the other two?


Gertie Series 7 is available as instant streaming on Netflix:

http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Ser...


Nataliya Jessie - I too decided to forgive it's faults - due to Katniss' overall awesomeness.

Richard - I took me way upwards of 20 pages to start enjoying this book. The only reason I initially did not give it up is because Mark Oshiro was doing a bunch of entertaining reviews on his blog. Otherwise I would have given up on it quickly; in retrospect I am glad I didn't. But it did take me a while to get past the jarring writing style.

Catie - Yes, I read the rest of the books as well. I thought the second entry was the weakest, but I think I am in the minority who actually enjoyed book 3, possibly more than the first. I thought book 3 had pretty accurate descriptions of the mental state of someone who has been through all the things Katniss experienced. I thought it interesting since in so many books the protagonists are mentally invincible.

Gertie - thanks, I will check it out.


Catie Actually, I am with you on that. I thought that book 2 was the weakest and I really loved book 3.


Nataliya Catie wrote: "Actually, I am with you on that. I thought that book 2 was the weakest and I really loved book 3."

Great minds think alike, right? ;)


Catie Right!


Evgenia I am not trying to get a compliment on great minds, but I absolutely agree on the outcomes of second and third books. Second had a very simple plot, absence of reflection and no references on mental states of characters. The third one is very different from the whole trilogy and unpredictable.
Great review!!! Thanks for this


Richard Derus I guess I'm lazy. Those 20pp were enough for me!


Nataliya Evgenia wrote: "I am not trying to get a compliment on great minds, but I absolutely agree on the outcomes of second and third books. Second had a very simple plot, absence of reflection and no references on menta..."

Evgenia - here is the compliment regardless ;) The parts of the second book that were set in the Capitol felt like the replay of the similar parts from the first book, and that bored me a bit. And yes, the character growth was not pronounced, unlike their development in book 3.

Richard wrote: "I guess I'm lazy. Those 20pp were enough for me!"

Richard, life is too short to read books that you don't enjoy. (Even though I occasionally display morbid fascination with terrible prose...) So I'm happy that my review saved you from having to read it :)


Brandon Absolutely great review!


Nataliya Brandon wrote: "Absolutely great review!"

Thank you, Brandon!


message 16: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Wonderful review! :)


Nataliya Thanks, Erin!


[Name Redacted] As you might know, I did not like this book. But I appreciate your review for including:

A) An image of 2000's "Battle Royale" in lieu of an image of 2012's "The Hunger Games" ;)

B) Rue. Because she was the only character that had me feeling anything. She felt real. She was smart enough to hide and play to her strengths and look for someone strong to protect her.


Marvin Just FYI, the idea of killing people on a virtual reality show goes back to at least 1965 with the Italian movie, The 10th victim. In it a group of assasins are trying to gain the ultimate prize on a TV show The Big Hunt by scoring 10 victims. Interesting film starring Ursula Andress.


[Name Redacted] And you can trace it even further back to the classic story "The Most Dangerous Game"!


Nataliya Well, apparently it's an old idea. But it is especially relevant now, with the explosion in the popularity of reality TV over the last decade - the popularity which I will never understand.


message 22: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary Great review,and i am with you on the reality show thing....crap.... this series really hits the evils of it in my opinion.... it's like the romans at the coliseum on tv.... do we really need to go back to that?


Nataliya Thanks, Gary. Reality shows = evil.


Nataliya And I'm finally going to see the HG movie. Dear movie, PLEASE BE GOOD! Do not disappoint me, or I'll be very sad.


Catie Let us know what you think, Nataliya! I really liked it for the most part.


Lyndz I saw it on Friday and I really liked it too. Interested to know what you think (& if you cried like I did!)


Nataliya REVIEW EDITED TO INCLUDE IMPRESSIONS OF THE MOVIE.
-----


Luckily no one in my theater cheered when kids died. Even for Cato's death. It was more of a stunned silence throughout.
I cried. Twice. When Katniss volunteered (made me think of my little brother for whom I would have done the same). And when Rue died and District 11 saluted Katniss.
Jennifer Lawrence is awesome. I loved her in "Winter's Bone", and I loved her in this movie. That girl definitely can act!


Tatiana Those were the moments I cried during too...


Nataliya I was afraid that they would milk the cave makeout moments for as long as hey could, to pander to what they think teen girls want to see. But they managed to do it tastefully and without overpowering the rest of the movie.
And Katniss' fake smiles at the end - they said so much by saying so little...


message 30: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Sounds like a movie worth seeing, will have to go watch it.


Nataliya Kim wrote: "Sounds like a movie worth seeing, will have to go watch it."

It is! It actually lived up to its hype.


message 32: by Bill (last edited Mar 27, 2012 01:36PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill The movie was great, it really brought the book to life!
(view spoiler)


Nataliya I saw on my GR friend's status today that apparently some people's gripes with the HG movie are that Rue is black. What the...?

I naturally decided to investigate and stumbled upon this article on Jezebel.com (no, it's usually NOT the site where I go for reliable unbiased information, but it will suffice since I am pretty biased AGAINST racism). The screenshots of some people's tweets made me angry. Apparently it's much harder to care about the death of a black girl for some so-called "people" out there. And they are not ashamed to make their views known. Since they obviously read and liked the books, I assume they find the idea that a futuristic government would kill children for entertainment pretty disgusting. Unless, of course, those are black kids. That apparently changes the game entirely.

And to add: no, it doesn't even matter whether Collins specified or not what ethnicity her characters are supposed to be. Yes, Rue IS a dark-skinned girl, but honestly: (a) Even if Collins had never specified it, why should we automatically assume she HAS to be white? and (b) Are black actors only allowed to portray characters specifically stated as black in the books?
The point is - it should not matter. It should not change your opinion about a book character. Yes, I understand that white is the Western culture go-to default. No, it does not make it okay to ever be racist. EVER.

This cartoon pretty much sums it up.


Catie Bah - those comments are so ugly. It's sad that in this day and age, people can still hold onto those old, stupid fears and prejudices. I'm not sure how they equated Suzanne Collins' "dark skin" description with white people, but whatever. There definitely doesn't need to be more white-washing in Hollywood. Only extremely rarely is a white fictional character cast with a person of color (for example - one of my favorites - Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme in The Bone Collector). Most of the time, it goes the other way.


Richard Derus Nataliya wrote: "And to add: no, it doesn't even matter whether Collins specified or not what ethnicity her characters are supposed to be. Yes, Rue IS a dark-skinned girl, but honestly: (a) Even if Collins had never specified it, why should we automatically assume she HAS to be white? and (b) Are black actors only allowed to portray characters specifically stated as black in the books?
The point is - it should not matter. It should not change your opinion about a book character. Yes, I understand that white is the Western culture go-to default. No, it does not make it okay to ever be racist. EVER."


*applauds wildly*

Why, Nataliya, do you imagine Trayvon Martin's killer is still unarrested?


Nataliya On a much less serious note - I just found this "Panem Mandatory TV Viewing Schedule" on LJ of Cleolinda Jones. This is SO GOOD!

I bet that's what it would have looked like in Panem had it been real :)


message 37: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Nataliya wrote: "REVIEW EDITED TO INCLUDE IMPRESSIONS OF THE MOVIE.
-----


Luckily no one in my theater cheered when kids died. Even for Cato's death. It was more of a stunned silence throughout.
I cried. Twice. ..."



To echo all of the above... Love your review!... of both the movie and the book and the cartoon. It's sad to think that the race of the characters instead of their persona/acting ability is what is discussed so much about a movie.

I saw the movie too and the thought of what race the characters were didn't cross my mind... at all... Actually, I was more bothered by a girl behind me narrating THE WHOLE STORY to her mother sitting next to her during the movie. Her mother should've taken that moment to teach her proper movie etiquette.

Jennifer Lawrence plays the strong independent role well as evidenced by her roles in The Hunger Games, Winter's Bone and The Burning Plain.


I haven't read the rest of the series yet. Overall, the idea of liking a book where children are pitted against each other to the death didn't sit well with me but for some reason I did like it and saw the movie opening night. You did a great job explaining why- thanks for that! I will eventually get to the rest of them...


Nataliya Lisa - Thanks. I am sure that for the majority of people watching this movie race was the last thing on their minds. It makes me sad that for some people it was, however. Jennifer Lawrence seems to be a talented young actress - I saw her in "Winter's Bone" before HG and was impressed then as well. I hope you like the rest of the series - the third one is probably my favorite of the bunch.

Kat - I'm glad you liked it. It definitely made me grin as well :)


Trevor Read Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, it's the book Suzanne Collins ripped off to make Hunger Games


Nataliya Trevor wrote: "Read Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, it's the book Suzanne Collins ripped off to make Hunger Games"

I plan to read "Battle Royale". As for "The Hunger Games" being its ripoff - I obviously not qualified to judge since I have not read BR, but from what I know and from the comments in this thread it appears that the concept of this story is quite old. I have no problems with the authors reusing ideas - after all, there is a finite number of those - as long as they do more than a basic rewrite of the original. I mean, one can say that the entire fantasy genre was a Tolkien rip-off, right? I hope it's not the case with HG.


 ~Geektastic~ Trevor wrote: "Read Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, it's the book Suzanne Collins ripped off to make Hunger Games"

If you want to be technical, the Romans did it first. Battle Royale is great, but it's no more original that Hunger Games. The Running Man came before both, but I don't see anyone trying to say they ripped off Stephen King. Not to start an argument or anything, it's just unfair to ever treat any art as if it is completely original. We don't create in a vacuum.


[Name Redacted] I think the argument for "Battle Royale" stems from the specific constellation of elements it shares with "The Hunger Games" -- yes, both owe a lot to "The Running Man", which itself owes a lot to "The Most Dangerous Game", but the specific similarities between BR & THG are more numerous than are their similarities to TRM or TMDG.


[Name Redacted] Yep! That's the one!


Nataliya Ian wrote: "I think the argument for "Battle Royale" stems from the specific constellation of elements it shares with "The Hunger Games" -- yes, both owe a lot to "The Running Man", which itself owes a lot to ..."

I feel disappointingly underqualified to comment on this, having not read "Battle Royale" or "The Most Dangerous Game". To rectify this, I plan to read "The Most Dangerous Game" tonight (only 48 pages? Bring it on!). Thanks, GoodReads "read book" function :)


Syilie a agree withian that the similarities between BR and HG are really striking. I have read all the books of HG and also battle royal. from my opinion, the BR focused more on the survival while the HG always lost on her thought. i find katniss is selfish and arrogant. yes, she really care about her family but she really like to take advantage of other kindness and i think the love triangle between them is so annoying.most part of it i just skip the page.*sigh* meanwhile for the movie.. i really anticipate for the games itself but the game ended just finish in a blink of eyes.. -so disappointed. and also, the movie is only for the people who has read the books because they try to squish all the plot but do it poorly where the necessary or important scene are left alone. eg: the sign when they salute, do the people who didnt read the books know what the meaning of the sign?? and waht about the first meeting between katnis and pete??? because of this i prefer BR than HG. the plot of BR more strong and it also focused more closely to each student. aboutg their feeling, btrayel, loyalty and friendship. and the movie also more exciting than hunger game..


Nataliya Well, 99% of the time the books are better than movies based on those books. With all the hype surrounding the HG movie, it was pretty much guaranteed that the vast majority of people would have read the book before seeing the film, or at least came to see the movie with someone who did and who could fill in the blanks (often in a VERY loud whisper - I', thinking about you, the person to my left in the movie theater! Sheesh...).

I can't comment on the Battle Royale movie vs. book, since I still need to read that book.


Syilie u know.. i preity anticipate the movie and the games scene.. i was look likes.. okey the games begin.. 1 min later, what!! it's over....

well i'ts better than the last movie i watch, haywire, the trailer really good but when i watch that movie, seriosly... i really want to sleep, but on the good side, we got a good laugh to watch a person next to us sound asleep..* chuckle*


Roshio those two moments in the movies were the parts that choked me up as well! especially the "I volunteer" part, the way her voice is so desperate. really nicely done.


Nataliya Roshio wrote: "those two moments in the movies were the parts that choked me up as well! especially the "I volunteer" part, the way her voice is so desperate. really nicely done."

Yes, it was so desperate and very real. At that moment during the movie I actually BELIEVED that Katniss would give up anything to save her little sister. It was excellent.


Lalaine Tanisha Sulicipan kagagahan naman ang first reason mo oi :P


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