Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: The Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games    Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

From the Inside Flap of The Hunger Games:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

It's been 75 years since the districts last rose up in rebellion against the Capitol, and the citizens of the twelve districts of Panem have been paying for it ever since. Shackled to a life of poverty and hard work to provide the residents of the Capitol with everything they need to live in luxury, those who live in the districts are strictly policed and forced to subsist on the rations provided to them by the Capitol. They are not allowed to leave their districts, they are not allowed to hunt in the Capitol's forests for food, and above all, they are not allowed to complain about the state of things. But it could be worse, after all, look at what happened to District Thirteen...

While the concept of hunting human targets is not new, Collins gives it a bold and imaginative treatment in this engrossing series. I started Hunger Games with no knowledge of what would happen and I won't divulge any plot secrets here. Both of these books are intense, edge-of-your-seat, can't-put-'em-down, emotional roller coaster thrill rides. Collins holds no punches in the brutal, futuristic world she's created; exploring the effects of war and oppression, starvation and desperation, and the ability of the human spirit to overcome.

The stories are successful due in large part to the heroine: Katniss. Katniss is real. Katniss is no wonder woman. She came by the skills she possesses the hard way, over the course of five years of keeping her family alive. She's a survivor. Fierce, devoted, protective:

It's not as if I'm never friendly. Okay, maybe I don't go around loving everybody I meet, maybe my smiles are hard to come by, but I do care for some people.

At times she is selfish and suffers from bouts of self-doubt and self-pity, but they don't last too long. She's had to develop a tough skin, she can't let things get to her, she can't show weakness. Her family depends on her. But underneath it all she has a big heart and a strong sense of what's right and wrong. She also has a rebellious streak she has a hard time controlling and it could get her into a lot of trouble as she becomes a favorite to win the Games, and a symbol of hope to the nation watching...

And on top of everything else Katniss has to deal with, she finds herself at the center of a very poignant love triangle, as she struggles to come to terms with the feelings she carries for her best friend back in District 12 and the new feelings she develops for her best friend inside the Hunger Games arena.

Be warned: If you read Hunger Games, have Catching Fire at the ready. The story continues from book to book without skipping a beat. Needless to say, I am now one of the legion of fans anxiously awaiting August 24 and the release of the final book in this series!

Rating: 5 Stars out of 5


  1. Great review! I have to ask: Peeta or Gale?

    I always tell people, "Make sure you have Catching Fire ready when you read Hunger Games because you'll want it right away." And then I have an evil internal chuckle. If only they knew. Cannot wait for August 24!

  2. I can't wait for Mockingjay! I have to know what happens next! Glad to see you loved these books too!

  3. I am very torn between Gale and Peeta and I think that's part of what makes it so good! I can see how they are both good for her in different ways. My gut says Gale, but after all they've been through and all Peeta has done for her, (and I'm assuming she'll be riding to his rescue somehow in Mockinjay), I don't see how she can let him go, either! No matter who she ends up with, I'll be happy, as long as the losing boy finds some happiness, too!

  4. I'm always so excited to see another reader discover and love this series. I got my teen daughter to read the books, too, and our copies are still being passed around to all her friends. I love that.

    For the record, my gut says Gale, too.


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