Brad's Reviews > The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Sep 09, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: adventure, sci-fi, dystopian, exceeded-my-expectations, young-adult, worth-reading-twice, read-in-2012
Read from March 02 to 04, 2012

WARNING: This review contains some vulgarity. Please don't read this if you are have a delicate sensibility. Thanks.

8 Things I liked + 1 I didn't + 1 I hated

8. It's cinematic. -- I don't know if I'd have appreciated this if I hadn't read The Hunger Games in anticipation of the film's release, but the March 23rd premiere precipitated my read, and I could see the action of this book on my "head screen." It's going to work as a movie, and Collins' successfully tranferred the action she saw moving in her mind to the page. She made me see it too, and I am now officially stoked to see the film of her tale.

7. First person. -- I was not impressed with the first person perspective in the first chapter, but by the time Katniss was moving through the arena I understood how right that perspective was. It ramped up the suspence, and it's going to make for an easier transition to the big screen.

6. The Capitol and Districts. -- Plenty of real world, contemporary issues to be found in the structure of Panem. Plenty of room for criticism. Plenty of bile directed at the haves and honouring of the have-nots (now haves?). It may be worth adding this to a first year reading list, but I worry that things fall apart as the series progresses. Which reminds me of the question I had throughout ... "does this really need to be a series?" It feels like one book should be enough.

5. Nostalgia. -- I remember an old Sci-Fi paperback from my Junior High library with one of those pulpy covers. There was some hilltop with a a black sky gate opening above, and for some reason I remember a bunch of kids doing combat on some planet. I wish I could remember something more about the book, but every page of The Hunger Games took me back to the halls of Don Bosco and that book cover keeps flashing in front of my eyes. I love it when shit like that happens.

4. Dystopia. -- I love dystopian books, and as dystopias go this is one of the most normal -- which ramps up the creepiness for me. I pretty much live in District 11 at the moment, and I can see us heading down the road to our own Hunger Games a generation or two from now. There's some compelling immediacy here for me.

3. Mockingjays and Tracker Jackers -- These were some of the best future tech innovations I've ever read. Their backstories made sense, they were well integrated into the tale, they were used subtly, and they added just the right amount of verisimilitude. They were well struck notes, and I will remember them both forever (unless the film fucks them up).

2. Katniss Everdeen. -- I believed in her as a character. She rang true, sure and true (sorry, I'm listening to Albert Hammond), and I can overlook all kinds of crap when I love a character as much as I love Katniss. Her choices made sense to the woman she is; her skills were within reason; I believed her loves and hates; and her conflicts worked. She's the only reason I'd be compelled to read on (well, I would read on also if the movie was good enough to drive me to the sequel).

1. It's compelling. -- I stayed up until the wee hours to read this. I don't do that on purpose anymore. I may keep reading when my insomnia kicks in to keep myself sane, but to actually risk messing up my sleep schedule to finish a book is a rarity. But I needed to finish. And it was mostly worth it.

1. It's sheaf, Suzanne. -- It's not a "sheath" of arrows. It's a sheaf. I thought it was a typo the first time, then it was repeated throughout. Piss poor editing, and an annoying mistake that really could have been avoided.

1. Wolfie Muttations. -- I see no defensible purpose for this bizarre twist. I saw it coming, was begging Collins not to do it, and was left deflated by its happening. Mercifully it ended quickly and we were back on track, but this was a cheap piece of manipulation that really took away from the story for me. I didn't need any more reason to think that Panem and its Capitol were fucked. This was Collins' one bad choice. Overdetermine much?
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Reading Progress

11/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 66) (66 new)

K.D. Absolutely Nice review, Brad.

Brad Thanks, KD.

Matt LOL, getting hung-up on sheaf vs. sheath?

Brad I know, Matt. Silly I suppose, but it annoyed me. It was one of those things that kept pulling me out of the world Collins was creating, and I love being dazzled by the illusion. I hate seeing the ropes and pullies.

Justin Very good review. I agree with most points of your review, though I didn't even notice the sheath/sheaf mistake. I also particularly liked the Mockingjay backstory. Having just finished Mockingjay last month, I tend to agree that this would have been better as a standalone. I didn't think either of the sequels quite lived up to the original.

Brad You're nudging me even closer to steering clear of the sequels, Justin. Are you planning on seeing the movie?

Justin It's hard for to give a recommendation on whether to finish the series or not. While there are things that I liked about the sequels, there were many more things about it that I didn't like when compared to the first novel.

I am leaning towards seeing the film. As you say, it's very cinematic, but that does raise my expectations a bit. I'm not sure whether Gary Ross was the correct choice for as the director, as he hasn't really done anything quite as dark or action oriented as this. But I'm very curious to see if it plays out as well as I imagined it would while reading it.

Brandon Great review, Brad. I agree that I didn't see the point in the book turning into a series until I read the second book - totally worth it.

B0nnie 5. Nostalgia. -- ... my eyes. I love it when shit like that happens.

And the power of nostalgia should never be underestimated!

message 10: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Quite. I agree fully, Bonnie.

[Name Redacted] I think the only point you and I fully agree about was that this book was rooted in the cinematic. I hated the writing, the setting, and the characters, but i can see this becoming an amazing film. Sort of like how I felt both "Ringu" and the book upon which it was based were awful ("I know this because I too happen to be an inexplicable and previously-unmentioned psychic!") but the American remake was wonderful.

And I think the 1st person narration wouldn't have felt so wrong to me if it hadn't also been present tense yet full of exposition which she herself wouldn't have needed. It was 1st-person-present, yet clearly directed at someone else...

That said, maybe in the setting of "The Hunger Games" the word "sheaf" has been replaced with "sheath"? I mean, "mutation" has been replaced with "muttation"...

message 12: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Excellent point about the first person narration, Ian. Something that bothered me about it was that it never seemed to address who the implied audience was. Many of the best first person narratives suggest an audience of some sort, even if simply through the action of the tale. Who on earth could Katniss have been telling this story to? It didn't feel right to me, but I eventually came to like her voice enough to put that aside.

As for the "sheath" thing, if Collins had done what she did with "muttations," which was to provide an explanation for the shift in usage (in the case of the muttations, it was based on the mutated dogs used in the civil war), I could buy the change. It wouldn't have bothered me at all then.

Carol Always enjoy your reviews. Thank you.

message 14: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad You're welcome. And thank you.

Traveller I like the point-by-point breakdown format, Brad!

Sparrow Does "sheaf" of arrows maybe mean "many arrows," and "sheath" of arrows mean a container full of arrows?

Okay this is nerdy, but the Longbow Archers Glossary is saying "sheath of arrows" is a "bundle of twenty four [sic] arrows" ( But, then I am also finding "sheaf" to mean a bundle ( Maybe both are options with slightly different meanings? Or maybe she got her faulty information from the longbow archers people, who don't know to hyphenate numbers, either. Those bastards.

message 17: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Hmm...interesting, Sparrow. I've never seen it as "sheath" until Hunger Games, and when I went to check myself to make sure I wasn't delusional I simply went to my dictionary, found confirmation of what I "knew" and didn't look any further. I wonder if "sheath" is a more modern usage to replace "quiver" amongst archers.

I am going to have to leave up my complaint, though. Otherwise people will never understand all the discussion of it down here in the comments.

Sparrow haha, that sounds good. Yeah, I saw quiver, too. My impression was that sheath is just a broader term for something into which you put things (twss?), and quiver only applies to arrows? I will have to become an archer and then let you in on the lingo.

message 19: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad :) Sounds good. Hey, if my course happens can I use parts of your review in class?

Sparrow Of course! That would be so cool!

Angrymog It's not a sheaf. It's a quiver.

message 22: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad A quiver is what the sheaf of arrows would be carried in, so yes you're right, Angrymog, it should be a quiver rather than sheath.

message 23: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert "Quiver" is used exactly once in the book.

K.D.G Great review Brad. I agree completely with the point you made about the Mockingjays and Tracker Jackers. You should definitely watch the movie and see how they have interpreted them visually.

message 25: by Hailey (new) - added it

Hailey Sechrist I think the movie is grate if u don't think so keep it to ur self

message 26: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I think my opinion is great, Hailey. If you don't think so keep it to yourself ;)

Molly I'm an archer, it's a sheath. I don't know if I'm missing something and were talking about two different things, but from what I know, it's a sheath. The Hunger Games is my favorite book! The movies alright...oh, you should definitely finish the series, it's really good! One more thing, I'm 11, please, when your writing reviews, try not to swear as much, okay? (:)

message 28: by Sparrow (last edited Jan 13, 2013 10:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sparrow Ohh, your bunny is so cute, even though I'm not a bunny person at all!

Have you thought about setting your profile to private, Molly? It's totally none of my business, but sometimes that seems safer for kids and teenagers.

We all just swear so much because we're crotchety.

message 29: by Brad (last edited Jan 13, 2013 02:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Molly wrote: "I'm an archer, it's a sheath. I don't know if I'm missing something and were talking about two different things, but from what I know, it's a sheath. The Hunger Games is my favorite book! The movie..."

Hi Molly, thanks for the information about "sheath." Perhaps it is because I grew up in Canada and have spent my life studying literature from the British Isles that I was so bothered by "sheath." This is just a guess on my part, but the United States has tended to make errors in the words they adopt that later become the American standard, such as "titbit" becoming "tidbit" and "pom-pon" becoming "pom-pom." If this is why "sheath" is now acceptable, then it remains an error that should really be corrected by any author worth their salt. If it isn't for this reason, though, if it is for some technical reason, then I understand its usage. And knowing that it is the current standard for archers, as you've pointed out, does mitigate my feelings, somewhat.

I think I will finish it, Molly. I'm not sure when, but I will. My daughter will probably make me.

Unfortunately, though (and I must be honest about this), I will not be cutting back on my swearing. It's who I am and how I write, and I am of the mind that apart from annoying some people and/or coming into conflict with their personal feelings, swearing has no negative effects. I used to put warnings on my reviews about my swearing, though, so because of your concerns I will start doing so again.

We are, indeed, crotchety, aren't we Sparrow?

Sparrow Indeed, we are.

Molly Thanks for the comment on my bunny Sparrow! His name is Thumper, and he's 5 months old as of tomorrow! I guess I was a little harsh about the swearing thing, I grew up on a household that absolutely forbids it. I'm in middle school, so I should be used to it by now...

Sparrow What a good name for a bunny!

I think you have a few years before you need to get used to swearing.

message 33: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I don't think you were harsh, Molly. I appreciate your candour. When I was in middle school (we call it junior high in Canada), my Mom had me reading books packed with vulgarity (some books that had been banned in the past), so while I wasn't able to swear at home, I was reading it constantly (and it was my Mom's fault), so it's never really been something that bothers me.

sarah louise I remember reading this review a ways back, I think you make some great points.

I think you miss out on one of the greatest reasons to like the book, though, and that is

9. Critique of the Media, Power and Privilege

not only does this book effectively (if, obviously, exaggerate-d-ly) show how center of production affects quality of living and disenfranchisment, it demonstrates quite clearly, and to a young American audience who is bombarded by media from all sides EXACTLY how subjectivity and control of the media can slant the story/representation. how often can you quickly portray that in a way young readers would be interested in?

message 35: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Great point, sarah. I think I will probably reread this before I tackle Catching Fire, and you reminding me of this will have me looking for the critique very pointedly when I do.

Kelly H. (Maybedog) At least you didn't love it. That's something. My friends all loved it. I hated it. I don't like Katniss at all. But there's a lot wrong with me. I don't like mayonnaise or beer or The Beatles for starters and I thought Ishtar was a really funny movie.

Great review as always, Brad.

message 37: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I love Ishtar!

But then I love mayo, beer and the Beatles, so ...

message 38: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Mayo = ach y fi!

Annie Is it really sheaf????? I never knew that! I always thought it was I feel stupid....

Annie Wait no, I'm pretty sure it's "sheath" are you POSITIVE it's "sheaf"?

message 41: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad Originally it was "sheaf," as far back as the OED, but from what I understand "sheath" has now become an acceptable alternative, particularly in the U.S., but that has happened in many cases with the English language, so don't feel bad. Both are acceptable. I usually go with the English spellings and the English roots myself, though.

message 42: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy Ramsdale Nice review. I totally agree with you on all of it especially about it not needing to be a series. The sequels are a bit of a let down compared to the original.

message 43: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I still haven't gone on to the rest of the series. I probably will read the next one before November, though, since I am sure I'll have to go to the movie with my daughters.

Annie Wow, the whole sheath/sheaf thing is interesting.... (sorry bit of a nerd)
but I definitely DO recommend the second book. The third one, however? I would read that too since the second ends with a cliffhanger, but personally I did not enjoy the third....

Potatohead It's a sheath. I don't know where you got sheaf from, it's not a word i know. I know it's a sheath because i take archery lessons.

message 46: by Brad (new) - rated it 3 stars

Brad I got sheaf from Shakespeare. I bet he took archery lessons too.

Potatohead Sheaf is from Shakespeare. Sheath is the word.
Sheaf : 1) A bundle of grain stalks laid lengthwise and tied together after reaping
2) Bundle into sheaves
Sheath: A close fitting cover of particular shape
The actual thing is a quiver, but it could also be called a sheath. Shakespeare did not take archery lessons.

message 48: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert Potatohead wrote: "Sheaf is from Shakespeare. Sheath is the word.
Sheaf : 1) A bundle of grain stalks laid lengthwise and tied together after reaping
2) Bundle into sheaves
Sheath: A close fitting cover of particu..."

"A sheaf of arrows" is therefore a perfectly sound metaphor but not a description of a dedicated container of maybe Shakespeare knew what he was talking about after all...I'm pretty sure he took English lessons.

Traveller Hmm, btw, I remember seeing in the GR TOU that one must be 13 years old before being able to join the site, or was that the older, pre-2010 TOU?

Potatohead A sheath of arrows. Look it Up!!! That's what I did!!

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