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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
My husband suggested I start from scratch as films always leave out a TON of detail and I'm so glad I listened to him. Once I started I could not put the books down and the cliffhangers at the end of each chapter always left you wanting to find out what happens next. The films do, in fact, leave out a TON of detail (and characters) and in just a week I went through the entire trilogy.
English is not my first language so the simplicity of the dialogue was a huge breath of fresh air. I often find myself avoiding Anglo literature because of the unnecessary complexity of the narrative and although this book was very easy to read it doesn't feel juvenile.
All in all, loved the series and would recommend them to anyone.
Still, the book deserves five stars, and the whole series is amazing. Not only is it entertaining, but this last book manages to keep the same pattern as its predecessors – an initial section, followed by the messiest of the Hunger Games (an actual war) – while taking us to whole new levels and posing deeper questions. What is the point of revolution and war if nothing changes? And is Coin good? Collins makes that character extremely ambiguous, at least at first. Katniss is represented by the color black: her hair is black, and she comes from the coal district. President Snow is represented by the color white: white hair, white snow, and white roses. But Coin is gray: gray eyes, gray hair, and gray clothing. Is she good or evil?
Many gems and motifs in this book show its extraordinary depth.
Mockingjay divided into three different parts: The Ashes, The Assault and The Assassin. The titles of all three parts contain a word beginning with “As” which is a lovely approach.
The word “the” is a little misleading, as it implies that each part is about just one of those items, whereas in each case it could apply to several different events, persons or conditions. Now I will get into some serious spoiling, so only read ahead if you don’t mind such things.
The Ashes. Obviously, this continues the motif of all things related to fire. There are several literal instances of actual ashes, beginning with Katniss’s return to the bombed-out remains of District 12. She returns near the end with Gale, and they tour the ashes of their home. There are more literal ashes to be found in the bombing of District 8, and figurative ashes to be found in Katniss’s emotional life and her relationship with Gale.
The Assault. This is the second part, and there are many examples of assaults within the part. At the end of Part 1, Peeta Mellark warns everyone in District 13 that they are about to be bombed. At the beginning of Part 2, Peeta himself is being assaulted for the defiance he showed by warning them. Katniss does not see the assault, but she hears his cries and sees drops of blood on the white tiles.
Assaults continue. District 13 is subject to several days of bombing, in which Katniss and the others are forced to stay in their bunkers. (An interesting question is why the Capitol stops the bombing after only a few days, but that is not answered.) Peeta is then rescued – which could be considered an assault on the Capitol – and as soon as he sees Katniss, he tries to strangle her. This is because he has been brainwashed (“hijacked”) by people in the Capitol – an assault on his mind (which started in Part 1, but certainly continued during Part 2).
In order to get away from the unexpectedly murderous Peeta, Katniss joins the rebels in District 2, where the rebels themselves perform a horrendous assault on the Nut, a mountain containing most of the weapons being used against them. Katniss, acting as a peacemaker, is assaulted again, this time with a bullet, but although she is injured she survives. The remaining chapters in this part are devoted to planning for the assault on the Capitol.
Part 3 is called The Assassin. Again, the title can be applied to many people in these chapters. It begins with the still-unstable Peeta, programmed to kill Katniss, joining Katniss’s squad. He can be seen as an assassin sent by Coin – a view confirmed by Boggs, her commander. Katniss spends much of the time with the plan to assassinate President Snow. (She feels a little too guilty about blaming herself for the deaths of her comrades – after the initial incident, they had very little opportunity to go back – they were stuck behind enemy lines.) Of course, she does not carry out this particular deed of killing Snow but kills Coin instead. But we must remember that Coin herself is an assassin, and what is worse, a killer of kids. She tried to kill Katniss through Peeta (and at one point Katniss reminds readers that she is only 17, technically still a child). She is responsible for Prim’s death and the deaths of a whole bunch of Capitol kids. What is worse – what Katniss cannot bear – is that Coin is planning to continue with another set of Hunger Games (Nothing has changed!).
I could go on and on but I am sure I have wearied most people. Enjoy and appreciate!
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