- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
- Series: The Hunger Games (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0439023483
- ISBN-13: 978-0439023481
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 73,632 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) Hardcover – September 14, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Reviewed by Megan Whalen Turner
If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that boy meets girl is always mentioned, and society goes bad and attacks the good guy never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion—and now, following a long tradition of Brave New Worlds, The Hunger Games. Collins hasn't tied her future to a specific date, or weighted it down with too much finger wagging. Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, hers is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death.Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. It's a credit to Collins's skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable. She has the attributes to be a winner, where Peeta has the grace to be a good loser.It's no accident that these games are presented as pop culture. Every generation projects its fear: runaway science, communism, overpopulation, nuclear wars and, now, reality TV. The State of Panem—which needs to keep its tributaries subdued and its citizens complacent—may have created the Games, but mindless television is the real danger, the means by which society pacifies its citizens and punishes those who fail to conform. Will its connection to reality TV, ubiquitous today, date the book? It might, but for now, it makes this the right book at the right time. What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet, she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch. Katniss struggles to win not only the Games but the inherent contest for audience approval. Because this is the first book in a series, not everything is resolved, and what is left unanswered is the central question. Has she sacrificed too much? We know what she has given up to survive, but not whether the price was too high. Readers will wait eagerly to learn more.
Megan Whalen Turner is the author of the Newbery Honor book The Thief and its sequels, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. The next book in the series will be published by Greenwillow in 2010.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up -In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.' Book one of a planned trilogy.Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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I also heard a few people express disappointment in the conclusion of the Katniss/Peeta storyline. I've read people's reviews taking issue with how Katniss and Peeta are represented at the end of Mockingjay, asking "Where's the passion?" Passion? Are they insane? First of all, the story is told in first person by a character who is admittedly not at all comfortable being demonstrative and doesn't respond well to those who are. There was never going to be a hearts/candy/flowers declaration happening here. Peeta has a borderline obssessive love for Katniss throughout most of the trilogy. The way I read the story, by the end of the first Hunger Games, she returns the feeling. Though hesitant to think why she does the things she does, or to state it aloud, she expresses it in so many different ways throughout the remainder of the trilogy, there really is no doubt. Despite the fact that she is suffering major PTSD, she agrees to take on the stress of being the symbol of revolution and take a front line role to bring him back. Regardless of the amount of trauma they both endure, they still eventually turn back to each other. Gale was a strong character, but he had not gone through what Katniss did in the arena and would never have been able to understand that part of her. The time she spends clinging to him and avoiding Peeta is essentially an attempt to return to the person she was before the games (which was never going to happen). Peeta was the walking, living, breathing reminder of the trauma endured. I thought it telling that Peeta returned to Region 12. Like Gale, he could have gone anywhere when it was all over, yet he went where Katniss was. Really, Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch needed each other to become human again (or as human as they were ever going to be). Katniss reminded me of uncles I had who, when they returned from war, sat in a darkened room, staring at a wall day after day for over a year before they could handle being amongst the living again.
I'll admit part of me would have liked President Snow's demise to be more than it was. Considering the amount of suffering he caused, part of me is bloodthirsty enough to have wanted him to suffer a great deal more. There are also characters I would have liked to survive (Finnick, Cinna, and Prim to name a few), but their deaths helped to illustrate the randomness and unfairness of death in wartime.
There are parts of this story we'll never get to see because it is told from Katniss' point of view. We see only what she sees and know only what she thinks is going on. I, for one, would be interested in knowing more about events of the story from Peeta and/or Haymitch's point of view. Peeta's fight back from his memory hijacking would be an intriguing read.
Ultimately, I found this book engaging, infuriating, exhausting, and funny all at the same time. To have had Katniss serene and sweetly declaring life to be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows would have been absurd. She is with a husband (partner?) whom she loves and is utterly devoted to. She has two children she loves, but is worried what they will think when they know the role their parents played in the past. She and Peeta are happy, but remain somewhat haunted which is perfectly realistic for what the characters have gone through.
I had little to no expectations when I first started reading the Hunger Games Trilogy. If a book is trending and seems interesting, I will add it to my “to read” list. This is how I first started reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. After finishing Mockingjay, I was blown away. All I could think was, how many of the YA readers will understand the nuances of Collins’ message?
She hooked you in with the “will she or won’t she” scenario. “Will she or won’t she” pick Peeta or Gale? “Will she or won’t she” survive a game that does not allow for love to shine through? Those questions get you through the first book, and possibly half way through the second book, but those same questions are a moot point with Mockingjay.
Mockingjay stripped you of your hopeless romantic naiveté. There is no room for romance when the world is collapsing around you. There is barely room to breathe. There are no good guys or bad guys, only survivors. Mockingjay asks difficult moral questions: can man ever hold seats of power without corruption? Can war ever actually solve a dispute? At what price is man willing to pay for absolute power?
I won’t even go into Collins’ varied symbolisms. Part of the pleasure of reading is finding them yourselves and asking yourself what the author is telling you, the reader. It becomes a communication between the author and the reader. It makes the novel Mockingjay even more important because it is written for younger readers, our future, those that will decide the world events of tomorrow. Collins does all this without a lecture, without loosing her characters or her plot, she has crafted an incredibly well written story that I would gladly recommend to anyone who asks.
After I finished reading Mockingjay I had the same feeling as I had when I finished reading The Lord of the Flies so many years ago. Yes, I am comparing Mockingjay to a classic. There is no way around it. Mockingjay, like Lord of the Flies, asks you deep moralistic questions through the point of view of young characters. This is simply another great novel that makes you go hmmm.
My favorite quotes from Mockingjay:
“Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet. Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.”
“It’s a saying from thousands of years ago, written in a language called Latin about a place called Rome,” he explains. “Panem et Circuses translates into ‘Bread and Circuses’. The writer was saying in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power.”
“Something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences.”
There are two “winners” in this Hunger Games lottery, a girl and a boy. Actually they are selected - drafted. Their names are pulled out at random. They get to compete with eleven other boys and eleven other girls in a war- games-type arena. There can only be one winner in the Hunger Games - the person still alive at the end of the games.
We follow Katniss, a girl from District Twelve, the poorest district, and Peeta, the baker’s son, from the same district. Peeta has had a crush on Katniss since she was five years old. She owes him for giving her bread when her family was starving. She feels she should repay this debt. Now they might be forced to kill each other.
The pageantry leading up to the games at times resembles a beauty contest, at times resembles training for participation in a less-lethal sport and at times it resembles preparation for a bullfight.
This is a terrifying story, but it’s also a life enhancing a story as the 24 children (ages 12 to 18) in the games sometimes form alliances based on friendship or need. It’s hard to trust anyone knowing that person might soon become your killer.
There’s are lessons in survival here. There’s also romance as Katniss isn’t sure if she loves Peeta, but she cares for him enough to fight for his survival as well as her own.