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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins
Originally Published: 2008
Edition Courtney Read Published: 2009
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Purchased

The Story

From the back of the book:

Winning means fame and fortune.
Losing means certain death.
The Hunger Games have begun…

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 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 dead 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 weight survival against humanity and life against love.

The Response

Hmm. In all honesty, I was left a little bit underwhelmed by this one. I think there was, quite simply, too much hype surrounding this one for me to enjoy it fully. I kept expecting to be completely blown away… and in the end, it was just… pretty good. Not the OMG AMAZING that everyone else seems to respond to this with. Maybe it’ll get better in the second and third installments in this trilogy. One can hope.

Other than the fact that it didn’t live up to my expectations, however, it was pretty alright. Although it hasn’t had much sticking factor (I really don’t remember much of what actually went on in the book, or who most of the characters were…), it was enjoyable enough while I was reading it.

I do enjoy dystopians. So it definitely had that going for it. Some parts of it I found extremely original – mainly the time in Capitol, both before and after the games. It was so decadent, and so gaudy to the point that it was entrancing. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to seeing this part on the big screen! It reminded me a lot of the window displays that Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street (Toronto, Canada) used to have at Christmas time. Utter decadence to the extreme.

The cast of characters had so much variety as well – from the overprotective Katniss, to the drunken Haymitch, to the … well, how does one even begin to describe Effie Trinket? She is … over the top and unrelatable and unsympathetic and utterly wonderful in a horrible sort of way. She is by far my favourite character in the whole book.

The whole being thrown into an environment where you have to battle to the death to survive… well, that part of the book was boring to me, in all honesty. It would’ve been much more interesting if I had actually cared about any of the other contestants, if I had cared who lived and who died. We didn’t get to know them at all, so their threat to Katniss, Peeta and each other didn’t seem realistic. Or dangerous. We didn’t really see how dangerous they could be – and this is disappointing, especially for those contestants who grew up training for the Hunger Games. The threat NEVER seemed real.

The Bottom Line

I will continue to read the series, even though I don’t think it lived up to the hype. I am, however, quite looking forward to the movie.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:55 am February 17, 2012.
Category: Young Adult
Book Author(s):

  • Shannon

    It would be very difficult to live up to the hype. Though I am seriously looking forward to seeing Elizabeth Banks as Effie.

    So book 2, so far, is a 16 year old girl, who seemed resourceful and resilient in book 1, stuck in a Gale/Peeta love triangle that is simply boring to me. I want to punch her. And then punch Gale. And then hug Peeta.

    It doesn’t help that the audiobook reader sounds like a whiny little girl.

  • Kailana

    I liked this back when I read it, but by the time book 2 and 3 were released the hype was so crazy I was a bit disinterested in the sequels. And, I ended up not really liking them. I still want to watch the movie, though.

  • Shannon

    I think one of the major issues with the book is that you know right from the beginning that Katniss is going to survive due to the first-person nature of the book, as well as the fact that it’s book one of three. Had it been written in a third person narrative, we could have actually seen the threats that were facing the contestants, as well as not knowing for sure who would walk out of the arena

  • Marg

    The hype can get so big that the book cannot live up to it!

    I am really looking forward to the movie too. I have already started looking for who I am going to invite to come with me so that we can then discuss the movie at length!

  • Miranda

    i PERSONALLY loved this sereis I admit the 2 and the 3 books did not excactly live up the 1 book. But, they were all really good . But. I really just want to punch Katniss and hug Peeta!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ncgraham

    The hype never got too big to ruin the Harry Potter books for me, so I’m not sure that’s exactly what was at issue here.

    For the record, I quite enjoyed the first book. It wasn’t one of the best things I’d ever read — heck, it wasn’t even one of the best YA novels I’d ever read — but if it was a standalone I would probably buy and reread it. Keep your fingers crossed and your expectations low for the sequels. I’m with Shannon; the development of the love triangle in Catching Fire is pretty annoying, and its resolution in Mockingjay is just a cop-out.

    Nathan (from LibraryThing)