Monday, June 8, 2009

What I'm Reading Now-The Hunger Games

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, and I am pretty behind on my reviews. If you keep an eye on my Goodreads widget in my sidebar at all, you may notice books coming and going in the "recently read" category with no corresponding reviews here and be thinking, Hey, what's the deal? If you really are dying to know what I thought about the book, you can click over to my Goodreads account and see (just click on the bar under the book shelf that says goodreads). I may not have a written review, but you can at least see how many stars I gave each book. It's not that I'm suffering from illusions of grandeur, thinking that everyone is waiting with bated breath to hear what I thought of something before they read it; but I know it's frustrating to see something you're interested in listed as "recently read" and then not be able to find a corresponding review.

So, anyway, on with the review!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins-I have been hearing nothing but good things about this book, so I was excited when it was picked for our last book club book. It was an easy read, and while I wouldn't say I loved it as much as some of my fellow bloggers, I wasn't disappointed either. It did keep me interested and wanting to see how everything was going to be resolved, and I definitely think this is one that will stick with me for a while.

For those who haven't heard about this yet (where have you been??) the novel takes place in a North America where there has been an uprising against the Capitol. The Capitol prevailed and now the 12 outlying districts are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games. The reasons for the Hunger Games are twofold; entertainment for those in the Capitol and punishment for the districts' uprising.

Every year, each district has to send two children, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen, to participate in The Hunger Games. The children are all thrown together into a manufactured outdoor arena and they have to fight to the death until there is only one child left. All of this is televised nationwide a la current-day reality TV. The winner and his or her district receive valuable prizes, including things like shelter and food, and of course, bragging rights. The Capitol plays up the bragging rights part, the poor districts are a little more excited about the food part, not so much about the our-kids-might-die part.

In District 12, twelve-year-old Prim's name is drawn for participation in this year's Hunger Games. Her sister, sixteen-year-old Katniss, knows there is no way she will survive and steps up to take her place. Since the death of her father, Katniss has been hunting illegally to provide for her family and knows that she has a much better chance of survival. The boy from District 12 is a baker's son who once provided a tremendous kindness to Katniss even though they didn't know each other, so right away, you know there's going to be emotional turmoil. If one of them makes it back, it's going to be because the other is dead.

I really enjoyed this book even though I'd have to stop about every three pages and say, "This is SO MESSED UP!" Reading about Katniss and her strategies throughout the game was interesting. I kept wanting to know what she was going to do next, how she was going to survive, what obstacles she would have to face. The other thing that really got to me about this book was her relationship with her sister. You don't really get a feel for their relationship with each other so much, but you do see Katniss's protective nature and the way she does all she can to keep her sister safe and try to protect her from the bad things in life. That really hit home for me because I have a little sister who is eight years younger than me, and I could really relate to a lot of the things that Katniss was dealing with on that level.

This is a YA book, but obviously there are some pretty heavy themes here, and it is pretty graphic. It doesn't gloss over the fact that the object of the game is to survive and the only way to do that is to kill other children. Given the subject matter, I don't think it goes too extreme, but it doesn't evade the issue either.

By the end of the book, the major story line has been resolved, but the reader is still left wondering, What happens now?? Luckily for us, the sequel, Catching Fire is now out. My bad. Thanks to farmlanebooks for correcting me. This doesn't come out until September 1. I think I will have to read it in the near future when it comes out!

Other reviews:

Books on the Nightstand-Ann (Listen to the Podcast-Ann's review is about 7:20, but listen to the whole podcast if you get a chance)

Now that I've linked to all these reviews, I'm trying to figure out why my response to this book wasn't quite as strong as everyone else's. I pretty much agree with everything everyone else has said, but I just didn't have the same "OMG, I couldn't put this book down!!" response. Maybe you guys can help me out. If you've read The Hunger Games and LOVED it, why? What about this book in particular made it so great for you? Was it the characters? Was it the horror of the Games? Was it that it hits close to home, or was it just all of these things coming together to form the perfect story, or was it something else altogher?


Heather J. said...

I haven't read this one and to be honest, I don't plan to. I've heard all those amazing things other bloggers are saying, but this book just doesn't seem interesting to me in the slightest. Maybe I'm just calloused ...

farmlanebooks said...

I'm afraid that Catching Fire isn't out now. I'm not sure when the US release is, but it is a few months away.

The worst thing about reading the Hunger Games is waiting for the sequel!

Dreamybee said...

Heather J-It's not really the type of book that I would normally gravitate toward either, but after hearing everybody rave about it, I figured it might be worth checking out. I'm worried that "calloused" might be exactly my problem too, as far as why I wasn't as blown away by it as everyone else. If you can't get worked up over kids being made to fight to the death for the entertainment of their fellow countrymen, what can you get worked up over??

farmlanebooks-Aw, crud! Thanks for the correction-I'll go in and fix that. I guess I've been hearing about everyone getting advance copies and such, and so I was thinking it was already out.

Jeanne said...

I think what everybody likes about this one is that it's well-written and very plot-driven. As you note, there's not a lot of characterization of Katniss or her sister. I gave it a good review, because I'm a SF fan, and this is a classic kind of SF setup. An even better one in a similarly horrifying world is Unwind, by Neal Shusterman.

Dreamybee said...

Jeanne-I linked to your review. You're right, it is well-written. I liked the fact that Katniss had to think through how to do things and that things didn't just sort of conveniently fall into place all the time.

I reviewed Unwind back in October, and I really liked it. That one brought up a lot more esoteric questions about life and death, not just moral/ethical questions, which I think gave it a slight edge over The Hunger Games.

Jeanne said...

I'm agreeing that Unwind is a little better. I think anyone who liked The Hunger Games should read it, too!

Louise said...

I haven't read this, but now that you mention it, I have noticed a lot of talk about it recently. It sounds like something I would either hate or love. I will see if I can get a hold on it in the near future.

Dreamybee said...

Louise-I hope you love it!