No One Was Exaggerating: Review of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

I can’t believe this book for young adults is as good as everyone said! Not that I don’t trust my fellow bloggers, but the premise seemed so grim that I couldn’t imagine making silk out of such a sow’s ear. I’m happy to declare I was so wrong.

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Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lost her father when she was 11. She lives in the poor coal-mining District 12 of Panem, a country that once was the United States, and residents of her district often die of starvation. When her father died, Katniss took to the woods to hunt food for her mother and little sister Prim.

Every year Panem holds a lottery to select two candidates from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death in “The Hunger Games.” (This is punishment that the twelve districts must endure for an uprising in which the thirteenth district was obliterated. The twelve must never be allowed to forget.) When Prim is selected, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Her male counterpart is Peeta, a boy who apparently has been in love with her all his life. But according to the rules of The Hunger Games, there can only be one winner out of the twenty-four; the rest must die.

Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Noir-y? Violent? It’s a little of those things, but mostly it is surprisingly original, gripping, and memorable. And it’s a love story! The characters are almost uniformly likeable without being cardboard, and the fantastical elements are not too absurd or unbelievable. Well, maybe the last-featured of the mutations, or muttations [sic] as they are called. Otherwise, I am pleased to say there is no shark-jumping in this book.

Evaluation: This book is terrific. If you are one of the few people in the universe who have not yet read this, I think you should find out what all the buzz is about; you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4.5/5

Published by Scholastic Press, 2008

FTC Disclaimer: I bought this book at Target in an attempt to sneak it into our “sundries” budget so my husband would not see that I bought yet another book.

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30 Responses to No One Was Exaggerating: Review of “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

  1. That’s funny! I wrote a remarkably similar review on my own blog only a couple of weeks ago (in Dutch). I was as surprised as you were that this was really a terrific book, for it did not seem to be my kind of thing at all. In the meantime I have already bought part 2 and am looking forward to reading it.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Well…I’m one of those few people. In fact, I could have written your opening sentences! Perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

  3. Jenny says:

    Better late than never – in fact, I think there’s an argument to be made that it makes sense to delay reading a book that has sequels, until the sequels have all been produced. Thus reducing agonizing wait time to find out What Happens Next.

  4. Julie P. says:

    Well said! I was worried that I’d be disappointed with these books because of all the build-up. But I have to say that they lived up to my expectations!

  5. Steph says:

    Ha ha! Again you are not the last person to have read this book, as I haven’t read it yet. Yet, being the operative word though, since I know I will have to try it given that everyone who does read it (late in the game or not) really does seem to enjoy it. I think this will be another good one for Tony & I to read aloud to each other. You know that I love me some dystopian fiction, so I will have high hopes for this one (even though YA is a genre I pretty much never read)!

  6. It still sounds grim to me, even if you do say it’s a love story. You didn’t say it was a happy-ever-after love story so I don’t know.

    I know what you mean about books and sundries budgets. Isn’t it nice that places like Target and WalMart are selling books? A book here, a book there, and then I just complain about the high cost of sundries these days.

  7. Bella says:

    I still haven’t read this one yet, but I know I must, especially after reading your review.

    Thanks.

  8. Doret says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to love a book after hearing all the hype and praise. When the second book, Catching Fire came out this year, me and a few of my co workers were so excited.

  9. bermudaonion says:

    I’m so glad you liked it. I have to admit that I’ve been putting off reading it to let some of the hype settle down. It’s nice to know it lives up to the hype.

  10. Aarti says:

    I haven’t read this one, either! So you’re not the last 😉 I’ll have to get to it soon, though, since everyone seems to LOVE it!

  11. Nymeth says:

    Sorry but I’m going to have to steal your Last Person in the Universe title again 😛 I’m glad it’s as good as everyone says, though!

  12. Julie H. says:

    Glad you liked it. I think I loved your disclaimer most!

  13. Eric says:

    Glad to sese that you liked it I also thought that it was REALLY good

    http://themockingjay.vndv.com

  14. Staci says:

    I broke down and bought a copy from my bookfair (paperback) so that I could finally get my butt in gear and read this one!!

  15. Amy says:

    I have yet to read this book too! The beginning of your review made me laugh because I have been wondering if this book could be as good as eveyone says it is! Apparently i is! It’s on my TBR list! I will read it…soon!
    I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  16. softdrink says:

    So when and how are you sneaking Catching Fire into the budget?

  17. i also enjoyed this novel–and catching fire!!! glad you finally drank the kool-aid. 🙂

  18. Nat:

    “Kool-aid” you are so right!

    Softdrink:

    Ha, ha, you’ll have to come back in a few days and see how I got that one!

  19. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog says:

    I held out on this one forever, too, because I don’t read much YA, but I quickly fell in love with it. So glad you enjoyed it! The second installment was even better.

  20. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog says:

    P.S. Glad I’m not the only one who sneaks books in….if I buy it at Target while grocery shopping, it counts as groceries, yes?

  21. Belle says:

    I wasn’t going to read this one, despite the rave reviews. I just find dystopian fiction way too gloomy and this one sounded much too dark and depressing for me. Now I find myself toppling over to the other side of the fence now, as I happen to be one of the handful of people in the universe who haven’t read this one yet …

  22. Ti says:

    I am so glad this one lived up to the hype! Now I can read it 🙂

    BTW…did buying it at Target work for ya? If not, just take over the checkbook like I did and then you won’t have to worry.

  23. It is really great when books live up to high expectations isn’t it! ?

    Catching Fir seems to divide opinion a bit more – it will be interesting to see which side of the fence you sit on that one!

  24. Lisa says:

    So many adults love this book; I really need to get it into the hands of my kids.

  25. Alyce says:

    I know what you mean about it being better than it sounds. I’ve recommended it to people and when I explain what it’s about they think “Lord of the Flies” and it’s hard to impart just how good the book is and how different it is in tone from Lord of the Flies.

  26. jas84 says:

    i dont think the book was as good as it was hyped to be … im 32 maybe im not a young adult anymore 😀

  27. Rebecca says:

    Wow! Good to know that it is not all just hype! I thought the same thing but then everyone and I mean everyone said it was so good. Now it is on my wish list!

  28. Jenners says:

    Well, this is the final nail in the coffin for me. I have to read it now. And I like your sneaky approach to book buying!

  29. Glad you enjoyed it! I loved it, too. My husband’s not much of a reader, and he really liked it and Catching Fire. I think he’s looking forward to the last book even more than I am. I’m so proud. 🙂 LOL

  30. WildWave says:

    Had Loved the book and discovered it around the time movie was coming out. So your category “Probable Last Person in the Universe to Have Read This Book.” reminded me of my reading. Intend to explore more books and reviews here.

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