The Hunger Games is the Best Young Adult Series I've Ever Read!
The Hunger Games is an Instant Classic!
The Hunger Games is the amazing series of dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins. The series is shocking, horrifying, and for many, hits very close to home in the current political climate.
I was very eager to read this series when it started to get rave reviews in the book blogging community in which I was active at the time. I really respect the bloggers who take the time to write about the books that they love, and I often show that respect by taking their recommendations seriously, and reading the books that they have loved (and then reviewing them myself, as I have now done).
The Hunger Games wasn't what it promised to be. No. It was better.
Purchase the Hunger Games Trilogy on Amazon
I really recommend getting the boxed set of The Hunger Games. You will save money, and all three books are hardcover. I found that the paperback versions of the novels were too slippery for my taste and that they were difficult to hold onto when I was reading, and very much preferred the hard cover versions of the novels.
On the other hand, if you aren't sure that these are up your alley, then please do buy them individually, preferably one at a time. But I'm sure you'll love them as much as I did!
What The Hunger Games is REALLY About
When I first read the summaries of The Hunger Games that were at the time available to me via the book bloggers I visited, I thought the concept was amazing. What I determined from the descriptions of the books was that they were about a world much like Ancient Rome in which gladiators were thrown into the Colosseum to fight to the death. I envisioned two children (because the reviews always made clear that it was children or young adults fighting by hand or with crude weapons one-on-one.
While I am sure that these reviewers weren't being intentionally misleading, this description could not be further from the truth of what the Hunger Games is, and I feel that I would be doing you a disservice if I do not tell you what they are really about.
The Hunger Games story is set in a future world called Panem, which occupies the continent that used to be known as North America. Panem is divided into thirteen districts, all known by number. Three quarters of a century ago, there was a war in Panem when the people rose up against the ruling capitol and were defeated. The entire District 13 was wiped out, mainly because it was the producer of nuclear weapons. It is now a wasteland and abandoned, leaving twelve active districts in Panem, each producing their own goods.
One of the "goods" that is produced by all the districts is tributes, because every year, each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to go into the "Arena," a large outdoor fighting field. There are twenty-four tributes (not two) who must then fight to the death, leaving a single "victor" to return home and celebrate.
The purpose of the Hunger Games is to remind the people of Panem of the fact that they were, in fact, defeated by the Capitol and that they are dependent upon it.
In other words, the essential premise of The Hunger Games is the idea that there is a tyrannical government which horribly uses and abuses children for its own ends. This is nothing like the gladiators of Rome.
Get The Hunger Games
Summary of The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
No significant Hunger Games spoilers in this section. The promise is not made for the next few sections!
Katniss Everdeen is sixteen years old and has always lived in the Seam in District Twelve. Her father was killed in a mining accident, leaving her to take care of her mother and her younger sister, Prim. Thankfully, he taught Katniss how to hunt, and nearly every day, she goes out beyond the fence and hunts with her friend Gale so that she can bring home food and money (since she sells some of her kill at the Hob, the underground marketplace in District Twelve) for her family so that she is the only one who has to take out tesserae.
It is the time of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games, and Katniss is worried most about Gale, who has taken out so much tesserae (which feeds his family but also puts his name into the hopper more often in the drawing for tributes) that she fears that he will be called on the day of the Reaping, when he will have to be sent into the Arena to fight for his life. She is so worried about him that she is shocked when the name of the first girl is called: "Primrose Everdeen."
Prim is only twelve, it is her first year in the reaping, and there is no possibility of her name being called, and yet there it is! Katniss immediately volunteers for her sister, putting herself forward as a tribute, a sure death.
But it is worse when the boy's name is called, and she hears the name "Peeta Mellark." Peeta has been her savior, and she knows that she cannot kill the boy who gave her hope when she was hopeless. Yet Katniss and Peeta must go into the Arena together, and only one of them can survive the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
Who will win? Can love triumph over a tyrannical Capitol?
My Thoughts on The Hunger Games
I loved it. The book was terrific, though there were a few errors with tense. The entire series is written in first person present tense, which is unusual to begin with, but the fact that Collins seems to have some difficulty in sticking to this pattern is apparent. There are moments when she goes too far into past tense (past participle) and it's very difficult to dig back up out of that hole.
While it is true that I tend to be very critical of things like this, I did feel that the story told here overcomes any errors in the writing.
What did disappoint me enough to almost make this a 4 star book from me instead of a 5 star novel is the fact that the ending was harsh. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but it was beyond a cliff hanger. There was a strange sort of breath of relief for me coupled with a sense of unease (which, it turns out, was warranted).
If you do not wish to read spoilers, skip to the end of this hub to see my conclusions! Video directly below is a spoiler!
An Excellent Fan-Made Short from The Hunger Games
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Summary of Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
Note: This section contains spoilers for The Hunger Games (but not for Catching Fire). If you have not read the first book in the series, this will spoil it! You have been warned!
Katniss and Peeta have won the 74th Hunger Games purely by their wits, and now they are returning home to District Twelve, where they will rest up before beginning their "victory tour."
It becomes quickly apparent, however, that President Snow doesn't believe that the love between Katniss and Peeta is real, and he warns Katniss that she must prove that she and Peeta are really in love. Thus begins the real story of Catching Fire.
The seventy-fifth Hunger Games are set to be a "Quarter Quell" which means that it will be more intense than other games. Every twenty-five years, the Capitol devises something particularly cruel, and this year, the Quarter Quell will require that each district send one of their male and one of their female victors back into the Arena. In District Twelve, there is only one female victor, and only two male: Katniss the female, and Peeta and Haymitch the male.
Can Katniss survive the Arena a second time? Does she even want to if it involves sacrificing one of the men from District 12? You'll have to read Catching Fire to find out!
My Thoughts on Catching Fire
I loved it.
My personal thought is that Catching Fire was the best book of the series. Though the first novel definitely did get my heart pumping and my blood flowing, the second book is really the heart of the series, because, in my opinion, it shows the true tyranny of the government of Panem, something which is close to my own heart as a political individual. The book was downright scary at times, and it really makes you think about how lucky we are to live in a free society.
Collins did a great job of characterization in this book as well. I was amazed at how realistic Katniss was in terms of the fact that she has both strengths of character and flaws. For those who hate Twilight, one way of looking at it is that she is the opposite of the one-dimensional Bella, who seems to be a series of flaws put together into character form.
Summary of Mockingjay
te: This summary contains spoilers for both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. It does not contain spoilers for Mockingjay. If you are looking for help with a school project in order to avoid reading the book, that hub will be coming in the future, but this is not it. Please be patient.
Katniss and several of the other tributes have been lifted from the Arena and to safety, where they are reunited with Haymitch and meet the team from District 13. They are taken under ground in the forbidden district where they are apprised of Peeta's situation in the Capitol and begin to decide on the course of action they wish to take in order to try to beat the Capitol and fight for democracy in the districts.
Now Katniss is the Mockingjay, and she is the face of a revolution she doesn't even want to participate in. She is scared, and she's worried about Peeta, her mother, Prim, everyone she loves. Things have changed, and though Gale and her family are with her again, she is concerned for the boy with the bread who she isn't yet sure she loves.
Suzanne Collins Reads from Mockingjay
Another Hunger Games Short
My Thoughts on Mockingjay
The book wasn't great. I would give both of the previous two books in the series five starts, but I'm fighting to give Mockingjay even a four-star rating. It's a hard thing to explain. I think that as far as the story goes, it weakened at this point. Perhaps it is because I love the thrill of the Arena more than any other element in the stories, and at this point, the Arena is gone from the picture. Maybe it's the cliche ending of the story, or the fact that I really didn't want to dive off into something quite so political.
Granted, the entire series is political, but at this point, we're talking about an honest-to-goodness civil war. I enjoy politics. What I don't enjoy is the debate over what it all meant. I will be writing a hub on this subject as well and I hope that you will read that when it comes. However, I must say that I found it frustrating to end the stories on this note. I think there could have been more.