REVIEW by Jena: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The 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 is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

I have put this off over and over again, just the same as I did with Twilight.  Unfortunately, when a book or book series becomes soooooo big, I kind of get jaded into not wanting to read them because I am so sick of hearing about them.  This was the case with The Hunger Games.  Never having read the series, I already knew the main character’s name and the plot line of the book.  A little piece of me dies inside when Hollywood ruins a good book for me. 
So at the end of last week, when I finished the 5th and final audio book for the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, I decided to go ahead and give The Hunger Games a shot.  I have had the audio book in my library for months and just couldn’t bring myself to hit play.  Well, I am standing here before you (sitting, really) to admit that I am an idiot.  I have been putting it off and putting it off only to find out that regardless of whether or not Hollywood is cramming Katniss down our throats, this book was actually pretty good.  Well, for the most part. 
Although I do feel that it started out a little slow, once the story line’s momentum got rolling, this book took off like a rocket.  However, there is so much to catch up on at the beginning that you are left with a feeling like you’re not really sure how the characters ended up where they are.  There is a lot to learn at the very beginning of the book but it doesn’t take very long to get the clarification you need to understand the story.  Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job writing this book in such a way that although there is a lot of history, you don’t need a formal history lesson to understand the past events that lead to the current way of life. 
Another reason I have held off on reading The Hunger Games for so long was plain and simply, the concept.  In everyday life, I am far from squeamish.  I am very liberal in my views.  Quite honestly, not much bothers me.  The concept of this book bothers me a little.  The whole idea of pitting children against each other in a fight to the death is horrible.  Stomach churning.  Gruesome.  Horrific.  Take your pick.  I could keep on going.  And yes, I have read Lord of the Flies.  Tons of times.  I actually still own a copy of the book and have the movie.  But children forced to act like animals to survive is still shocking and heart breaking at the same time.  It would have been worlds easier to swallow if it was adults fighting one another to the death.  I know that killing is still killing but there’s something very wrong with robbing a child of their innocence that way. 
With all of that being said, I did like the book.  I have such mixed feelings on this that I am not even sure if I am explaining myself properly or if I just look like a bumbling idiot who cant help but contradict herself.  Eh…welll….what are you going to do.
The things that I liked about this book are hard to pin point.  Katniss is a good character.  A solid character.  She’s very easy to respect.  Life has handed her a horrid hand of cards and she has done everything in her power to adapt and help her family survive.  She is very easy to like right from the get go.   Peeta took a while to grow on me but he really is a great character with a huge heart.  Gale is fantastic from page one.  However, we don’t really see a whole lot of him in The Hunger Games.  Seeing where things go with him may be enough to make me want to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay.  A few more of my favorites were Haymitch and Cinna.  Haymitch may be drunk 97% of the time but he is a riot.  And although we didn’t see a lot of Cinna in this book, I am hoping that he is also a returning character.  There’s more to him, I am sure of that. 
Very well written story if you can get past the fact that it’s a bunch of kids who have been put in a situation where they have to commit premeditated murder or face the possibility of execution.  Issues aside, the writing is done well and the characters (even the fiercest of them) are lovable on their own level.  I wanted to love this book with all my heart but I just didn’t.  To the point that I am not 100% positive that I will be moving on to Catching Fire.  I have a week at home for a staycation coming up so who knows, I might just give it a listen anyway. 
Overall, (*sucks in a deep breath as she feels like she’s about to commit book blogger suicide*) I give The Hunger Games 3 stars.  Good book but I wasn’t floored.  I had expectations going into this book because of how much everyone and their brother has raved about it for months now.  I try to NEVER go into a book with expectations and I think that those expectations played a part in the lack of mind-blowy-ness. 
I do not apologize for my less than stellar review but I would suggest that if you’re even a little bit interested in the book still, check it out.  What may not have tripped my trigger just might kick yours in the face. 
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  1. I’m with you. Although, it took me a few chapters to get into HG, I REALLY enjoyed it once I got past those few boring chapters. I was SO excite to start Catching Fire…and, I was let down. I made it MAYBE halfway thru it, and ended up not finishing. I think this may just be a “movie” series for me, as I really enjoyed the HG movie.

  2. I can’t read it… not yet… too much hype.

  3. That and the 50 ARCs I signed up for… someone needs to stop me accepting books…

  4. I’ve read all three. IMO the first is the best. The rest to me were just a let down. Heather- I should have stopped when you did. Deep down I was just hoping it was going to get better. It didn’t. I won’t go into details because of spoilers. But if you want to know, I’ll tell ya. I was sucked into the hype as well. My poor 5th grader isn’t thrilled that I won’t let him read it, when everyone else and their dog has. It’s refreshing to hear that of at least TWO others who’ve read it weren’t exactly thrilled. I thought I was losing my mind. The movie- was good. Followed the book nicely. And Jena- those characters you mention do play important roles in the books to follow.

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