Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

06 March 2012

That was probably the most controversial title I've ever typed into this little posting box. I know many of my readers are going to turn away from this post in disgust and think I've gone down the wrong path in my Christian walk, but please bear with me and read the post before you form opinions. Thank you. :)

First, if I hadn't read this book, I would have completely agreed with you that it was dark, evil, and not something I wanted to feed my mind. Not much about it particularly appealed to me, and as a general rule, I don't read the top books for teens that everyone raves about, because nine times out of ten, they turn out to be trash.

But . . . I did read this book. And that's what I'm here to talk about today. 

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
*Summary from Goodreads.com

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, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love

My Thoughts: As previously stated, I came to this book with some trepidation. Annual games where people fight to the death, all for the sake of entertainment? I was stuck between two conflicting opinions: a. I didn't feel quite right saying I disagreed with the books having not read them myself and b. I wasn't sure I wanted to put myself through that if they turned out to be as horrible as I thought they were.

Unless a book is a classic and held to a standard that no one can shake (think Charles Dickens or Jane Austen), I prefer hearing good things about it from people I respect before I read it myself. In this case, it was pretty incredible how many times friends of mine (including Christian adults I hold in high esteem) would confirm that this book was worth reading. At my tutorial, my friends kept saying it was amazing, and even my biology tutor said she read and enjoyed the books. I asked, Was the violence overdone? She responded that it was for a more mature audience (this isn't a book for ten-year-olds), but that she didn't find it to be too much. Then I asked, Was there any inappropriate content in it? She said she didn't find there to be anything that should cause me to worry.

Then a ladies' book club of which many women from our church are a part read THG — since their children are reading the books, they wanted to be aware of the content — and Mrs. T said that she came to it with some apprehension, but her opinion changed by the time she finished the book. Her most dominant remark was that she found the situations in the book to be eerily applicable to what our country currently faces. She also compared it to The Giver, a favorite book of mine.

All that to say . . . I decided The Hunger Games were at least worth a shot.

Pros: The story is very fast-paced and keeps you turning pages. The characters are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games, but that does not mean they are in any way supportive of them or of the Capitol. Katniss is extremely protective of her small family, being the primary breadwinner of the family since her father's death in a coal mining accident. Self-sacrifice is another huge theme in this book. Though she knows her chances of surviving the Games are slim, Katniss still sacrifices herself for the sake of her little sister, Prim. Peeta is also constantly giving of himself for Katniss's sake — protecting her, leading the enemy away, etc., even when it means getting wounded himself. 

It should also be stated that, like The Giver, The Hunger Games contains that spirit that something is not right in the country's government and it is up to the characters to change that, rather than passively going along with whatever the Capitol says. Peeta mentions that he doesn't want to be "just a piece in the Games," and also that he still wants to be himself. He doesn't want the brutality of the Capitol to change him into someone he isn't. I think this is something a lot of our fellow American citizens should consider, since we see the federal government gaining more and more control of our country on a daily basis, while people just stand by and watch. 

Cons: Violence plays a large part in this book. I didn't find it to be too much (keep in mind this is coming from a girl who loves The Patriot), but this is definitely a book for a more mature audience, and parents may want to read it before giving it to their children. Though Peeta's love for Katniss is innocent and heartfelt, she fakes some of the romance in order to pull on the audiences' heartstrings, which I did not like. One character has a habit of drinking too much, but to the author's credit, it is shown as being wrong. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 15+, depending on the parents' judgement.

A Bit O' Reading for the Day: 
“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.” — The Hunger Games

16 epistles:

  1. interesting!! your a great writer!!

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  2. Thanks so much for the review!
    Bethany
    www.handsthatbless.etsy.com

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  3. I definitely agree with you on this. I think The Hunger Games has been blown out of proportion on it's awesome-ness, which seems to make people think it's kid-friendly to people 10 years and below. That's not to say I didn't like it, I truly enjoy reading it, because I do each time I read it. I just don't think some of the people I know are old enough to be able to draw from the positive points of the story and not be affected by the negative.

    I do think they have some very interesting and positive points though. And I find it slightly sad they are now being pinned up beside Twilight, I personally think they are better done and written than twilight (though I've only read a few chapters in twilight).

    Thanks again for the opinion,
    Rebekah

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  4. Thanks for the review. My brother showed me a preview and I was kind of thinking would this be a movie a christian would go see,but I was so enthrolled with it I decided I'ld order the book from the library.

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  5. what a very good and thorough review! i'm glad you enjoyed the book =) i agree that people who do not 'agree with' the principle of the books should at least give it a try, because they hold so many great values♥ and actually... i enjoyed twilight, but since i know that a lot of christians have issues with the books (just as some do with the hunger games) i don't flaunt it on my blog. anyway, i can't wait to hear what you have to say about catching fire and mockingjay -- are you going to review them, too?

    xoxo,
    Jess

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  6. Thank you for the review! I hadn't the slightest interest in either the book or the movie, but now you have pricked my curiosity. ;)

    Blessings,
    Grace
    >>---> tending her garden @ gracesgardenwalk.blogspot.com

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  7. I heard about these books from many sources but, after reading the summary, thought the story sound week and predictable and not really something I would enjoy :) And then Mom saw a preview for the movie that kinda turned her off so that is about as far as my knowledge and opinion of THG goes.

    I did enjoy reading your review on it, though, as I know you are very cautious to make sure what you read/watch isn't inappropriate. And good for you deciding for yourself your opinion of a book...I know way too many people who will like or not like something just because of their friend's, parent's, peer's, relative's, etc. opinion which seems to make a person loose their personality in the end.

    Hugs,
    BW

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  8. I quite agree with Rebekah. I have read both The Hunger Games and Twilight (the whole series - not recommended) and The Hunger Games is, in my opinion, much better written, and the theme of the plot played out much more edifying. Because if you think about it, take the romance out of Twilight, and it's nothing. Take the romance out of THG, and there is still a wonderfully enthralling plot. :)


    Lovely review - and you know I agree with you all the way. :)
    blessings,
    ~Bree

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  9. I must say that I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, but now after reading your review I really really want to read it. I think people are often to quick sometimes to put something in a box that is might not belong in. I think people do not do enough research before the judge a book. I have to say reading the summery gives me chills and makes me wonder what the world will be like several hundred years from now.
    Thanks for the review! :)
    ~Elizabeth

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  10. These books are brilliant :) Great review, I totally agree. Not perfect books, but they are definitely worthwhile books to read (unlike, like you said, a lot of the teen books out there!)

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  11. Thanks for the review! I love the way you write book/movie reviews by the way... =D. I've never heard of this book before so I wouldn't know... the plot doesn't sound to bad at all (besides the romance bit maybe). But I think like Elizabeth was saying people can quickly put things in a box when it doesn't belong there. I was a bit like that with Lord of the Rings. I thought it was pretty evil and not Christian by ANY means... until I got to watch the movies, and that changed my mind completely. I love LOTR now very much...

    Blessings in Christ,
    ~Joy @ joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com

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  12. Wonderful review, Lizzy! I agree with everything you've said!

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  13. Hey, sweetie.

    The three questions I always ask our young ladies are: 1)Did reading this draw you closer to the Lord, improve your walk with Him or make you better able to carry out the work He has given you in this life? 2) How was He glorified in this book? 3) You mention the good moral lessons... Were they worth the bad stuff you had to ingest to get to them or could they have been better learned else where?

    Just food for thought. We watched the Time Changer last night. A very thought provoking movie dealing with this very topic.

    Hugs,

    Mrs. W

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  14. I agree with you ... I'm not a violent person and approached the books with the same ideas, but was surprised! They were very entertaining, and while not literature by any means, really raised interesting questions!

    I love Peeta, and one thing I didn't like about Katniss was that she isn't deserving of Peeta's devotion. He is just so good to her, and I love basically everything about him. :)

    Liz B

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  15. This has nothing at all to do with your post but simply that I've recently been flicking through your site and absolutely love it! The accompanying music is gorgeous! And I plan to buy several of the tracks for your mixpod to put on my mp3. Finding someone who's interest are close to my own heart is brilliant! I'm too old fashioned for my own good too!

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  16. So, I think you may already know this, but I am, by far, the biggest Hunger Games freak to ever walk the earth! I read this series in 3 days before they even became popular, and absolutely fell in LOVE with it. Then, obviously, I counted down the days until the movie(: I saw it on the midnight premiere, and then again the day after it came out! Have you seen the movie? Are you going to? I think Bree had told me that she had seen it, although I may be thinking of someone else. Either way, are you Team Peeta or Gale? I'm Peeta all the way. I see you have finished the series! What were your final thoughts?

    I miss you!
    -Anna Hutchison

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