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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5539 comments The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Audiobook performed by Carolyn McCormick
3***

In a future dystopian world, in what used to be the United States, the people are starving, and are used by the Capital as pawns in an annual competition: The Hunger Games. All children from age 12 through 18 have their names entered in a drawing to pick the two tributes – one boy, one girl – who will represent each of the twelve districts in the country of Panem; the twenty-four contestants will fight to the death on live TV. When 12-year-old Prim’s name is selected, her 16-year-old sister Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place.

I had heard much about this book, with many friends recommending it to me, but dystopian novels are not high on my list of must-reads and I put it off. I haven’t seen the movie(s) either.

Collins writes well, and does a good job of setting up this dystopian society, explaining how it works and the challenges faced by the residents. I was drawn into the story and invested in Katniss as the heroine from the beginning. I liked how Collins set up the televised aspect of the games, and perhaps readers will recognize how much of “reality” TV is manipulated and created by the producers.

What I really liked was the strong female heroine. Katniss is resilient, intelligent, resourceful, physically and mentally strong. She is a survivor, having learned from her father how to hunt and gather plants in the wild to help supplement the family’s diet. Since her father died, she’s been the primary source of food for her mother and younger sister. This gives her an edge over other contestants who have not had to struggle for every day survival.

Collins doesn’t make it easy for Katniss, putting her in danger from the natural world (lack of water, poisonous plants, deadly wasps), the Gamemakers who invent ways to force the contestants together, and the other tributes intent on eliminating the competition. I appreciated the untenable position she’s placed in and applauded her efforts to maintain some sense of humanity when forced to “kill or be killed.”

Collins also adds a love interest in her fellow District 12 tribute: Peeta, the baker’s son who as a young boy saved her from starvation by throwing her a burnt loaf of bread. While I appreciate that this adds to the drama and appeal for the intended YA audience, it did nothing for me. I felt as if Collins was doing just what the Gamemakers were doing – manipulating events to boost ratings.

What really annoyed me … and lost a star … was the cliff-hanger ending. Don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly fine with ambiguous endings that let the reader wonder and surmise what will happen next (e.g. “After all, tomorrow is another day.” From Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind). But Collins (or the publisher) chose to add “End of Book One,” an obvious set-up for readers to purchase Book Two to find out what happens. I’m certainly in no hurry to continue … though I may read the next one if I have a challenge for a dystopian novel.

Carolyn McCormick does a great job performing the audio version. She has great pacing and was able to make the various characters easily identifiable. I particularly loved how she voiced Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy.

LINK to my review


message 2: by Karin (last edited May 30, 2017 10:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karin | 6884 comments Book Concierge wrote: "The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
– Suzanne Collins
Audiobook performed by Carolyn McCormick
3***

In a future dystopian world, in what used to be the United States, the peo..."


Well, it is a trilogy, after all, so of course there's a cliff hanger. Can you imagine how that helped sales of the second book when it came out?

Suffice to say, I liked the cliff hanger, but this is a solid 4 star read for me. The second book is just as good, and the third one nearly as good. However, the second book has an even better cliff hanger, so don't read it unless you plan to read all 3.

Actually, I liked the writing better on repeat rounds (I read this with each of my kids, then I read it for each movie release along with my kids. This is a bit crazy since it's never going to be a 5 star read for me, but not really because it was something my kids and I could connect over). fwiw the audio is excellent.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5539 comments The cliffhanger is just a device to sell more books. Publish all three as one volume.


I did know it was a series going into it. No plan to read any more.


Karin | 6884 comments Book Concierge wrote: "The cliffhanger is just a device to sell more books. Publish all three as one volume.


I did know it was a series going into it. No plan to read any more."


True, but it's y/a and easier to start off with shorter books to garner an audience. Even Harry Potter started off with the shortest book. Plus, trilogies are very popular in the publishing world right now, for better or for worse!


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