04 November 2009

The Hunger Games

The North America of the future is not a world you would recognize…or a world you would want to live in, for that matter. Panem, as the continent is now called, is ruled by the ruthless Capitol. As punishment for a rebellion decades earlier, the other twelve districts of Panem are required to send a teen boy and girl to the yearly Hunger Games in which the kids are then required to fight each other to the death in a reality show that sounds like Survivor meets The Coliseum. The kids are selected by lots, so sixteen year old Katniss, who is solely responsible for keeping her mother and sister alive, is relieved when she is not selected. Her momentary relief turns to terror when her beloved sister is chosen to go to The Hunger Games. Desperate to spare her sister, Katniss volunteers. The other contestants may think that Katniss is at a disadvantage, coming from the most squalid district in Panem, but they have another thing coming…

Laura suggested this book to me last month, and I only now got my hands on it. (*glares at library wait list*) I absolutely loved this book! (Thanks again, Laura!) The Hunger Games is an incredibly original book. I've never read anything quite like it, but it reminded me of so many different books and themes: Lord of the Flies, Frank Peretti’s Veritas Project series, dystopian sci fi, the Minotaur myth, reality TV at its worst (is there such a thing as it at its best?), Soviet era Russia. This book’s primary strength is Katniss. She is just so likable and easy to sympathize with. She is no mamby-pamby Bella "Rescue me! I have a paper cut!" Swan, but she’s also not one of those obnoxious tough guy, er, girl characters that makes you want to vomit. The story is told in Katniss’ distinctive, ironic, witty voice, and the narration is also in the present tense, which greatly adds to the suspense. And suspenseful this plot certainly is! I started this book one Friday night when I had finished all of my homework. I figured I would get a headstart on my reading for the week. I didn’t stop until I finished it in the wee hours of Saturday morning – this book is that addictive.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “Zella, brag on that book all you want. It sounds like a slasher movie!” I know it sounds that way, but I promise you, it isn’t. Yes, The Hunger Games is built upon a gruesome, disturbing premise, but the book itself is not gruesome, although it is a bit disturbing. Collins does a masterful job of conveying what is happening with out being unduly graphic. (It is a YA book, after all.) Besides, I think there is a huge difference between something that wallows in the dark recesses of the human mind to celebrate it and something that delves into the dark recesses of the human mind to make a serious statement about that side of human nature. The Hunger Games is definitely the latter. This book is actually very philosophical, without being ponderous. I really loved how this book subtly attacks reality TV. I hope I don't hurt any feelings, but I hate reality TV. I think it is the most unreal, disgusting thing on TV. I despise the way Survivor, Big Brother, and I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! condone despicable behavior in the name of entertainment. Yeah, pal, that is not entertainment, at least not in my book. The Hunger Games very effectively portrays reality TV, with its emphasis on ruthlessness and appearance, for what it really is – shallow.

I have learned that modern YA fiction falls into two categories: really good and really bad. Put The Hunger Games in the first category. It is well-written and absolutely impossible to put down. But be warned: This book is part of a series. The cliffhanger ending will both intrigue and anger you (in an "Arggh! I have to know the rest of the story!" sort of way), especially at 2am. If you read The Hunger Games, you will end up hunting down the second novel in the series, Catching Fire!

P.S. Thanks for all of the excellent recommendations! I am happy to know that all of my readers have such great taste in books! I am also going to blog on Ayn Rand's Anthem (suggested by Math is a Plentiful Harvest) and Something Wicked This Way Comes and 1984 (both suggested by Rebecca on her excellent blog Readers Anonymous.) Please send me more recommendations!


Next Week: Part Two of Zella Kate Presents: The Medieval/Renaissance Epics - Dante's Inferno. (I was planning to blog on another book, but I am reading three or four right now and can't make up my mind. I am a book glutton. I pile too much on my proverbial plate and then must consume everything on said plate. Not unlike my behavior at Chinese restaurants!)


  1. Woohoo! I am so glad you liked it. I make everyone I know read this book. Have you read Catching Fire? Because I possibly love the sequel even more!


  2. Btw, like my new picture? It's kinda hard to see, but it's probably the coolest picture I have of me. I was swimming in a natural (freezing cold) spring in Florida :)

    Also I would like to add that on my last comment, I typed that crazy warped word wrong. I feel like an alien or something now.

  3. Laura! As I said in the blog, thank you so much for that recommendation! I am on yet another wait list for Catching Fire. (I am second from the top, so hopefully I won't have to wait too long. *fingers crossed*) I read a description of Catching Fire and I can't wait to read it! :)

    Oooh, I like the picture. That is awesome! The water is really beautiful there. :) Hehe I wish I could swim! :D

  4. I read the Hunger Games and Catching fire and I thought that they were AMAZING BOOKS. I can't wait for the movie which is planned on coming out sometime 2011, Suzanne is going to write the movie herself. I wonder what they are going to rate the movie. Anyways I am just rambling on now.



  5. Eric, I am really looking forward to Catching Fire and the movies as well! (I didn't know Collins was writing the script. That makes me very happy!)

    Thanks for commenting! :)

  6. I've read a little bit of The Hunger Games online on Amazon. But of course it only let me read the first 2 or 3 chapters. I wish I still had time to go to the library...*sigh*
    Anyway, I thought Anthem was great, but I never agreed completely with its views. It is a great book, and I think you'll like it!

  7. Sana, I think you'd really like The Hunger Games, especially since you liked Lord of the Flies. The Hunger Games is excellent! :)

    I look forward to Anthem! I have read some of Ayn Rand's philosophy. I don't agree with everything she says either, but she makes some excellent points.

  8. Hey, let me just say, love the blog. I'm going to keep checking this as much as possible.

  9. Also-- did you read The Book Thief? Same author, beautiful, beautiful book.

  10. PIA, thank you so much! I appreciate that. Thanks for reading! :)

    I haven't read The Book Thief, but I have heard it was really good, so I am going to try to read it. :)

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  12. I've never heard of this series, but since its fairly obvious that you have good taste in books, I'll be taking your word for it while adding it to the ever-growing list. It must be really long by now...

    Ever read 'Hush, Hush'? I read it on my book binge a few weeks ago but never got around to blogging it. I was really surprised about that one (seeing as I bought it only because I liked the picture on the front...yes I know, shallow, but hey! it works ^_^) because its about fallen angels, with a mild murder mystery mixed in. Very unique, but it does have the whole "I can't handle an ironic ending' syndrome, but nothing near as frustrating as Smeyer's 'The Host' (don't even get me started on *that* one). Heartily recommend, and partly just because I would love to see your take on it : )

    Btw, thanks for the plug! I appreciate it : D Keep up the good work, it takes a lot to read on the side while keeping up with college...especially one that also requires lots of reading.

  13. Rebecca, thank you so much! I love reading your blog, and I wanted to spread the word! :)

    The Hunger Games is really good. Sometimes YA books irritate me because they seem to sometimes sugar-coat things, but this one was excellent and so intense. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

    Thanks for the recommendation! I have never heard of Hush, Hush, but I will put it down on my ever-growing list. I, ahem, have been known to pick up a book just because of the title too. In fact, I spend almost as much time agonizing about picking the right cover for each blog as I do writing my reviews! I think my priorities are a bit confused... :D

  14. WOW! 13 comments, Zella! You certainly are getting to be well-known! You won't forget us little 'uns who followed you when you only had a few comments, will you? :)
    This book looks really interesting. I'll have to order it! Thanks. :D

  15. Scott, Oh no, I will not forget any of my followers, er, readers! (Did you see where I renamed all of you as readers?) That is my Blogger's pledge! I really do appreciate all of you for putting up with me and my book rants. :D

    I think you'll like The Hunger Games. It's never slow and it's really suspenseful - I couldn't put it down! :)