“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench
rollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater----'

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Hunger Games • YA fiction

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

October 2008 • Scholastic • YA fiction • Ages 12 and up
Each year in the ruins of North America, 24 teenagers are forced to enter the Hunger Games. Only the winner survives. Every moment is televised.
Story: Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone watching you? Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. 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." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Story behind the story: When I received this book I was warned: be sure to have time to read it in one sitting. Who hasn't heard that before, but believe me, make the time to do just that. Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, took it to a dinner party so she could keep reading it under the table!

"It's hard to choose one element that inspired The Hunger Games," says Suzanne Collins, New York Times bestselling author of the Underland Chronicles for middle grade readers. "Probably the first seeds were planted when, as an eight-year-old with a mythology obsession, I read the story of Theseus...and even as a third grader I could appreciate the ruthlessness of this message. 'Mess with us and we'll do something worse than kill you. We'll kill your children.'....But it wasn't until the much more recent experience of channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage that the story for this series came to me."

Since it's publication in October, it's landed on the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestseller lists, been named a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY'S Best Book of the Year and a NEW YORK TIMES Notable Children's Book, is #1 ON CHILDREN'S INDIE NEXT LIST, and has received starred reviews from many journals/publications.

You may have heard the buzz about it, but have you read it? Here's the first chapter and, also, a discussion guide which includes discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and connections to classic literature (The Grapes of Wrath, Nineteen Eighty-Four, among others) that are part of high school students' curriculum.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.

63 comments:

nettielouise said...

I ordered a review copy of the book. It sounds very interesting. I'm eager to see if perhaps there might be some good tie-ins with "The Most Dangerous Game" as well.

Vodka Mom said...

I remember you from Jacketflap, and am JUST putting two and two together. (Yeah, I'm slow. That's what teaching kindergarten will do to ya. ) I'd love more info about reviewing some books. I have 20 little "super" critics awaiting some good material!

email me vodkamom@gmail.com

Vodka Mom said...

you might want to check out my blog. I'd love to review some titles for you.

Marcia said...

This is a very intersting premise. If I were teaching this book, I would want to refer to the conflicts in precolumbian Mexico when the losing community had to supply "players" for ballgames played to the death and for human sacrifice.

Marcia Calhoun Forecki
Better Than Magic
www.eloquentbooks.com/BetterThanMagic.html

Deborah Muldawer said...

The story of Theseus may have been the inspiration for this book, but the themes contained within the story are far more complex and compelling than the original Greek myth.

At first the protagnist, Katniss Everdeen, seems too good to be true. At the tender age of eleven/twelve, she scrounges through garbage to keep her mother and sister alive, accepts extra Hunger Games entries to get food for her family, and breaks the law by hunting for her family. What keeps this nobility from going into overkill is that it is tempered by a certain cynicism toward the society and a certain kind of almost cruel practicality. For example, when a sick kitten shows up at their house, Katniss plans to drown it since there is no food to spare. Later she kills a semi-tame lynx because it follows her around the woods and scares off the game.
Katniss' practicality, altruism, and intelligence are firmly established in the first chapter and it seems completely realistic that she offers to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games.
At this point, the book moves away from the focus on Katniss and into other themes, notably the hypocrisy of the people in the Capitol. It also emphasizes the importance of appearance and presentation.
Each Hunger Games contestant has a stylist and a mentor, and image is all important. Well liked candidates get sponsors, who can send gifts into the arena of the Hunger Games, gifts that often mean the difference between life and death.
The Games themselves reveal Katniss' intelligence and her ability to accept what needs to be done. Other strong characters are her mentor Haymitch, her stylist Cinna, and her fellow Gamester Rue.
The only character who I found weak was Katniss's partner from District 12, Peeta. He switches sides frequently and professes his love for Katniss so often that it rings a bit false, or perhaps I picked up on Katniss's mistrust. Certainly the story being told in first person gives Katniss more knowledge and depth, but the other characters seem more fleshed out that Peeta.
While The Hunger Games explores cruelty versus altruism, appearance versus reality, intelligence, survival, and a myriad of other themes, it is Katniss who carries the book. During both times I read the book and afterwards, I was haunted by Katniss's intelligence and determination. This is her story and I could see using the book as an example of excellent character development.
That said, The Hunger Games is meaningful on many different levels, quite age appropriate for middle school and high school, and explores difficult issues without getting overly dramatic or sentimental. This is a book I intend to use in my classroom and one that I would recommend highly to other teachers and librarians.

Picnic Basket Rating: 5+

Mary said...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is set in the future. North America is now the nation of Panem, a dictatorship ruled from the Capitol. The rest of Panem is divided into 12 districts. What was Appalachia is District 12. The people there are poor-starving in fact. Katniss Everdeen is a tough survivor in this district. She regularly sneaks into the woods, hunts with a bow and arrow, and wild-crafts to provide her family with food. If she were to be caught, the penalty would be severe. Life is tough, but so far Katniss and her family haven’t starved to death.
The book begins as sixteen-year-old Katniss goes out to hunt. Her hunting partner is Gale, a boy of eighteen. They met when Katniss was twelve, eventually came to trust each other, and now are hunting partners. Gale is the only person Katniss can be herself around, but she tells herself that they are only friends.
Later that day is the reaping. One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen by lottery. They represent the district in the annual Hunger Games, in which contestants fight to the death on live TV. The winner lives a life of ease, while all the other contestants die. At the reaping, the worst happens. Primrose, Katniss’s twelve-year-old sister, is chosen. To save Prim, Katniss hastily volunteers and finds herself whisked away to the Capitol for the games. The other representative from District Twelve is Peeta, the baker’s son. Though she has never spoken to him, an unexpected kindness by Peeta was the turning point that gave Katniss the strength to survive in District 12. Katniss promises Prim that she will try to win the Hunger Games. This means all the other contestants will have to die, some by her hand. Katniss’s determination to survive is complicated as she interacts with the other contestants. One is a girl of twelve who reminds Katniss of her sister. And then there is Peeta, the baker’s son, who helped Katniss survive in District 12 and helps her again during the games.
The Hunger Games is a suspenseful, action-packed, brutal novel that manages to include love, ethics, and loyalty. The character of Gale was so well developed at the beginning of the book that I kept waiting for him to reappear. Suzanne Collins brings The Hunger Games to a satisfying ending while leaving it wide open for a sequel. I guess I’ll see Gale then. This book will be a hit with middle school and high school readers.
No question about it, this book is a five.

Mary Kirk
Media Coordinator
Sherwood Forest Elementary School
Winston-Salem, NC

jlarkin said...

First of all - I can see why Stephenie Meyer couldn't put this book down - it's EXCELLENT! The opening chapters and the building to the reaping definitely reminded me of Shirley Jackson's, The Lottery. The main character, Katniss, was amazing - brave, honest, trusting - my middle school students will definitely identify with her. Once the actual Hunger Games began, I couldn't put the book down. I loved all of the twists and turns - Peeta against and then aligned, the befriending of Rue, the surprises from the sponsors, the brutality of the Games - amazing. And just when you think it's over there are still surprises.

I will highly recommend this to my middle school students.

Rating - 5+++

Sequel????? Please tell me when it's coming out!

Anonymous said...

Since I'm a fan of reality shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race, the premise of The Hunger Games intrigued me from the start. Set in the future, Earth has been divided into 12 districts, each with a distinctive focus. Each year a boy and girl from each district (tributes) are chosen to the district's representatives in The Hunger Games. Watched by the entire nation, the tributes must fight to survive until there is only one tribute left alive. I was immediately drawn into Katniss's life in District 12. She has not had an easy life as the main provider for her mother and sister. When her sister is picked as the girl tribute, Katniss immediately takes her place. It was fascinating to read about all the preparations that went into to preparing the tributes for the game. I was quickly caught up in the action and rooting for Katniss to be the ultimate winner of the game. It was also interesting to learn more about the relationship between Katniss and the male tribute from her district, Peeta. I admired Katniss's creativity and survival instincts as she went through the game. I did wish I could learn more about the other players in the game as the story is told from Katniss's view. I'm also looking forward to the next book as the author states this is book one. I would definitely recommend this book for middle school and higher. 5 stars for sure!

Kristin Gehrke
4th grade teacher
Eldora-New Providence Elem.
Eldora, IA

Tina's Blog said...

I loved The Hunger Games. When I started it reminded me of The Giver a lot, and even though fantasy is not the genre I normally choose, I couldn't put this book down. The premise of the book is definitely not one I would recommend for elementary students -middle school or up would enjoy this.The only thing I would have liked is if there was more information give about how this society was set up. Information was eventually given throughout the story, but it took a while to find out about the world Katniss lived in. While I was reading away I never thought to look ahead, so was surprised to see that this is only the first book and I have the second one to look forward to.

Tasses said...

WOW! Thanks so much for sending this one. Absolutely love it. My review is HERE

Definite 5 on The Picnic Basket rating scale

Cheryl Tasses
Reading Specialist
Florida

jenniferknode said...

Addictive, can’t-put-it down novel about post-apocalyptic sacrificial gladiators as a reality show. The kick-ass heroine of the story doubts her chances only so long as it takes her to realize she’s perfectly suited to kill and survive and manipulate the emotions of the viewing audience.

I was shocked not to have been disappointed by it. I could not stop reading except to tell other people they should read it. Never having read Battle Royale, and having only hazy memories of the movie, I don’t know how the two compare and how much was stolen from the earlier book, but I’m guessing it had quite a bit of commentary on post-war Japanese society. Hunger Games takes place in our post-apocalyptic future, and the only easy comparisons are to our celebrity and reality television culture.

Briefly, the country is divided into districts that supply the capitol with different goods and services. Every year, a lottery is held in each district to pick a boy and a girl to be sent to the capitol as a reminder of and penance for their recent(ish) civil war. The 24 teenagers are put into an arena where they fight to the death while televised across the nation.

Katniss is from District 12, the poorest region. Which has given her an upper hand because she knows how to hunt and has been fighting for survival her whole life. She also proves to be expert at manipulating her situation: with cameras on her 24/7 she knows that winning the battle for the public’s sympathy is as important as hand-to-hand combat. The deus ex machina aspect that Stephen King criticized in his review to me was a critical part of showing how Katniss was skilled at manipulating her situation.

Because of Katniss’ skill at just about everything thrown at her (yes, she’s hypercompetent, but not egregiously so) if the ending seems clear, the twisted ways Collins gets there are the real fun. There are supposed to be two more in the series, and I’m dying to know where this story goes. There’s romance and relationships and lots of death and danger, and I really think (thanks in part to the cover art) that both boys and girls will be willing to read this book.

Rating: 5

Jennifer, Public Librarian

nettielouise said...

The Hunger Games is a thrilling, and at times scary snapshot of what our great society can encourage and perpetuate in the media if given carte blanche.

Set in the future, after the fall of current governments (including the U.S.), a new country, Panem has been established. Consisting of 12 Districts (the 13th District was apparently destroyed because they were insolent insubordinators) and a central "Capitol", Panem hosts an annual tradition called The Hunger Games.

Once a year, they force each distric to send two teenagers to The Capitol to compete in a survival contest. Contestants are televised as they compete in a huge outdoor arena, complete with all sorts of natural elements. There, they are to essentially hunt down one another and kill each other. The last one standing wins.

The Capitol symbolizes everything that is greedy, commercial, and apathetic in society. The contestants are merely puppets to be manipulated for the purpose of societal entertainment. With their stylists and coaches, contestants even "market" themselves in an effort to win gifts and favors from sponsors.

Katniss is an interesting heroine. She shows both strength and vulnerability, nobleness and hypocrisy. At times she is determined to prove to The Capitol that she is not a pawn in their hands, but then at the same time, she is constantly monitoring what she says and does to market herself to the audience watching the games.

The character of Peeta is a bit more one-dimensional. He is solid and behaves according to the reader's expectations. But, that said, I still really liked him in contrast to Katniss. They served as a nice contrast to one another.

I also liked how Collins continually left you hanging at the end of a chapter and made you keep reading into the next in order to see how a situation was resolved. It made the book quite a page turner. Every chapter left you in sort of a "cliff hanger" position.

I do wish the ending had gone a tad further, to show Katniss reuniting with her loved ones back in District 12, and their reactions to her success and relationship with Peeta. For example, how is Gale going to treat Katniss now? I guess Collins is saving this for the sequel to wet our appetites.

A Vasquez said...

I could not put this book down, I stayed up late to read it and become totally absorbed in Katniss and her world.
There are multiple themes present in this book, one that we are focusing on this year as a class is hope in the face of adversity. This is clear throughout the book.
Katniss and her perspective show us her world. It is a strange future world where the land is divided up into districts. Each district is responsible for contributing something valuable to the Capital. Katniss comes from a district that mines coal. She lost her father in a mine explosion and has to spend much of her young life feeding her family. She does this skillfully through hunting and gathering. When the names are drawn she chooses to go in the place of her sister.
The games present an interesting challenge as she must defend herself from the other contenders. A new twist is introduced when they announce that there can be two victors to this years game. This opens up the novel for a love story with her and Peeta. The games are intense, alliances are formed, and a bloody conclusion arrives.
The entire book was captivating and I cannot wait for the second one!

Picnic Basket Rating: 5

Deborah Muldawer said...

Update: The Hunger Games was just chosen for the New Mexico 2010 middle school reading list for Battle of the Books.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

This novel is intriguing to say the least. Though the premise feels new and fresh, the story does slip into too much detail at times. For instance, The Hunger Games don't actually start until around page 147 or so. There is a lot of setup prior to the games beginning. Some of the details could've been left out, some really work. For instance, there are a few chapter devoted to the main character's transformation, which is much needed since we are entering a new world/setting. However, during these chapters, fashion becomes the dominant theme and, in my opinion, deviates from the quick paced narrative of the story. This caused the story to come to a halt for me and even made me set the book aside early one evening.

This story is written in first person from 16 year-old main character Katniss Everdeen's point of view. At times her voice slips into an adult-like vocabulary that distances the reader from her adolescent eyes. Other times, she sounds of age and carries the reader with her effectively.

The setting, a dystopic society set in the future, is clever but at times feels contrived and unrealistic.

Overall, the outcome is not a surprise and feels undercooked. After reading the last page, I did feel a sense of satisfaction but that feeling didn't last as long as I would have like it to.

Tiffany said...

After many rebellions, the government of Panem, a futuristic society set in North America, has become cruel, making each of the twelve districts send two tributes per year to compete in a fight to the death. This competition is televised and mandatory viewing for all people of Panem as a reminder that the government controls everyone. Katniss Evergreen is a girl trying to keep her family together, but when her innocent and fragile younger sister is chosen as a tribute, Katniss volunteers in her place. What follows is an account of Katniss’ training, competition and growth through this process. Ever wary of the government, she learns that she is even more a pawn in their game and comes to truly despise the government, placing herself- and her fellow district tribute, Peeta- in a very dangerous situation.
The Hunger Games shows the gruesome side of dictatorship, however it is never grotesque. The moral questions that Katniss must address are extreme but necessary. Not only will she have to kill every other tribute to survive, but she must also change her whole image for the media, to the point that she completely questions who she has become. This is an exciting book, and less grisly than expected. Middle school students will enjoy the storyline and feel challenged by the issues that it brings to mind. The Hunger Games deserves 4 out of 5, a good choice for any picnic, but what an odd picnic it would be.

Tiffany Torbeck
Youth Services Librarian
Bloomingdale Public Library
Bloomingdale, Illinois

ahslibrarian said...

Suzanne Collins’ "The Hunger Games" is a perfect read for the ultra competitive reality show generation. Part “Survivor," part “Lost," part “American Idol,” part conglomeration of every movie that pits random humans versus one another in front of a crowd of onlookers- it takes a well used concept and makes the most of it. Although it takes a few pages to crank up the story, it is well worth the effort.

One might expect the fiercely competitive nature of the “The Hunger Games” to warrant pages of gore and bloody description. Collins skills shine as she allows the reader’s interaction to formulate much of the scene without excess focus on the violence.

Many have called “The Hunger Games” an investigation into a young person’s world where violence is a contributing factor. Is this not also a social commentary on what might one day be demanded by viewers who have grown tired of the same old entertainment? While the book does address these issues and the depth of romance without sex, the main consideration is the story and whether it works. It does.

Great stories are created and told again and again. They evoke vivid imagery and lure the reader or listener into the activity. They inspire readers to create their own continuation of the story and character’s lives. They demand sequels and screenplays. They also birth web sites http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/ that carry the theme forward.

Every public and high school library should have at least one copy. Recruit one reader and prepare for an avalanche to follow.

5 out of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
Andrews, NC 28901

Susan Mello said...

WOW!
I won't repeat a telling of the plot as it seems the other reviewers have taken care of that.

I am a member of the Rhode Island Teen Book Award committee (RIBTA) and this is one of the books on our list. So far it is getting 10 out of 10 from most reviewers.
I have recommended this book to every teenager that I know since finishing it.

There is action and character development. The reader honestly cares for Katniss, Peeta, and little Rue. In this day and age of reality TV and video games this book will surely be a hit with middle and high school students.

Additionally, this book can be appreciated by both male and female readers. That is important because YA literature usually has a great divide of gender interests. It will be great to have a book that both girls and boys can enjoy and discuss.

I give it a 5 out of 5 (only because that is as high as I can go here).

PS I hope the Newbery committee consider this a strong contender.

Mrs. Vyn said...

I ordered a copy of this book to review and ran out of time to read it so I asked a student who is a very fast reader so has read an abundance of books. He says that the book is a harder read than most for a 5th grader. Written more for teenagers. He enjoyed the games, the setting and description of the games. He thought is was a new concept for teenagers to be forced to go out and kill each other. He did like what they chose to do with the dead people's body parts. Overall an awesome book! Thank You

Shalonda Dixon, 7th grade language arts said...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is set in the future in Panem, or what was previously known as North America. Panem is divided into 12 districts, each governed by the same Capitol.

As a way to punish the citizens of each district for a past uprising against the government, the Capitol hosts the annual "Hunger Games".

Each district must randomly select one boy and one girl to represent his/her own district in the televised games. However, being selected is hardly an honor, as only one of twenty-four participants will survive the deadly challenges.

Katniss Everdeen is the 16 year old protagonist and the female representative of the very poor 12th district. Armed with determination and superb hunting skills, Katniss quickly becomes a strong competitor, but will she be the last tribute standing?

The Hunger Games is one of the best books I have ever read. Fast paced and full of action, I could not put it down. This book allows the reader to analyze and evaluate topics, such as government, competition, morality, etc. The Hunger Games is a wonderful addition to any middle or high school classroom or library.

My rating: 5

Shalonda Dixon
7th Grade Language Arts
Georgia

Angie said...

I almost posted my squeals of delight the day my review copy arrived ... but that was Christmas Eve and I thought that might be a bit on the overeager side.

So I'll just say a definite must read for sci-fi fans in most middle schools and all high schools. I cannot wait for the sequel.

And, BTW, the same recommendation goes for grownups who like to read. I've already got my sister's bookclub reading The Hunger Games and tell everyone else who will listen.

Zion Lutheran School Library. said...

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Picnic Basket Rating: 5 out of 5

I finished ‘The Hunger Games’ yesterday and decided to let it settle before reviewing it. I’m finding that my reaction to it today is the same as when I turned the last page and closed the cover. ‘The Hunger Games’ is filled with admirable characters, both male and female, non-stop action, and thought provoking themes just ripe for discussion. Issues of friendship, loyalty, trust, freedom, and governmental control make ‘The Hunger Games’ a natural choice for book clubs. While there is some violence in the book, I didn’t find it overwhelming or revolting. It is handled matter-of-factly and the details are not dwelt on, which is a boon for the squeamish. I think the greatest appeal will come from the main characters, Peeta and Katniss, and the challenges they face as they try to survive the Hunger Games.

I know I won’t have a hard time getting kids to read ‘The Hunger Games’ because I had to coax my review copy back from the student I had lent it to initially. Now word has spread and the line of kids waiting for the book is getting longer. Many thanks to Scholastic and the Picnic Basket for putting ‘The Hunger Games’ in the hands of young readers!

Anonymous said...

The country has been broken up into 13 seperate districts governed by the Capitol. During an uprise, the Capitol completely annihiliates the 13th district. In order to keep the remaining 12 districts under submission and to avoid another rebellious uprising, the Capitol has created an annual televised event called The Hunger Games. There are 24 participants in the games; one male and one female, each between the ages of 12 and 18, randomly selected, per district. The participants are then taken to a designated area where they must fight to the death until only one survivor is left. This survivor becomes a person of prestige and will enjoy the riches of fame, food, money; the best of everything.

The Hunger Games is packed with action, twist after twist, and down right good writing. Yes, there is violence, but no language, sex, or drugs; proof that good writing can still be attained without the aforementioned "crutches" so many current authors seem to be falling into the traps of.

Due to the violence and subject matter, I would recommend this book for students in grades seven and higher. The Hunger Games deserves a 5+ at my picnic!

The current holds on this book proves it's not going to spend time on the shelves anytime soon.

Julia Pitau
Media & Intervention Technician
Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Renee said...

Score: 5 out of 5

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games. When I heard the synopsis and other reviews, I thought that I would like it, but as it is a young adult book, I had my doubts that it would appeal to a grown woman. But I was wrong!

It does seem like a story that has been told before (people hunting people), but there are enough unique ideas to keep the reader highly interested. I was at a camp with my daughter with very little free-time to read and I finished this in two days. Once you start reading, you just want to keep going!

My daughter is in 5th grade, and I don't know if I'd be happy with her reading it, though. Even though it is aimed at young adults, there are a lot of graphic images and adult themes -- it is about children killing children, after all. Except for the gore, there are no other objections that I would have in giving it to my daughter. I teach in a Catholic middle school, and I can see my 7th grade niece reading it, but I don't know if I can recommend it to the library's general population.

That said, I can't wait to read the next one for myself!

Allyn Hunt said...

The Hunger Games kept me captivated from the first page all the way to the end. I could not put it down. I found the protagonist, Katniss, intriguing as well as identifiable and I think many of my middle school students would also be able to identify and latch onto Katniss and her plight.

There are many areas for great discussion such as our society's desire (like Panem) for solid appearance and being able to appeal to the masses. You could also pull in discussion of different social classes and resulting regions or areas. Wow! There truly is a plethora of creative lessons to be created from this book.

It reminded me at times of The Giver and The City of Ember and will appeal to not only young men and women, but also to a female audience who may not find the above mentioned books as accessible as their male counterparts.

I plan on definitely putting Hunger Games on my middle school summer reading list.

A definite middle school - high school picnic basket must. 5 scrumptious stars

A. Hunt
Middle School Language Arts
Fort Walton Beach, FL

Anonymous said...

This book has everything I crave for my students: an exciting plot line, societal critique and satire, a strong female protagonist, and nonstop action! I've purchased another copy and two students have already enjoyed it. Highly recommended. Rating: 5

Rachel Mahlke
English Seven
OMI Academy
Oakland, Ca

Mflick1 said...

I feel this book runs along the lines of The Giver. It is for those readers that enjoy a different world.
i though Katniss was a very positive, strong, female characters. It seems like it has been a long time since I have read about a strong heroine.
It's challenging and wonderfully crafted.

The Black Family said...

I read this book last night and could not put it down! It was so compelling, the characters so complex yet simple and relatable. As someone who doesn't normally rave about science fiction books, this one is at the top of my must-read book list. Because of the deep thematic elements, I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone under 12. However, teens and adults alike will be enthralled by the story. I give a 4.5 out of 5, ONLY because I think the book could have been wrapped up in a hundred more pages or so, instead of dragging it out to sequels, which is a really trendy thing to do with young adult fiction these days, i.e. Harry Potter, Twilight, Lightning Thief, Fablehaven. It would have been just fine as a self-contained novel. Still, I know I'll be reading the sequel!

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. I rate it a 4.
I thought the book would be disturbing for me to read, but I couldn't put it down.
Katniss, the main character, is very aloof but clever. She knows how to bend the rules but also has no idea what people think of her. She takes great offense to many things.
She is put into an arena where she must kill in order to survive herself. She surprises herself and the others in the arean with her. She gets help from Peeta, the love interest, and the people who are watching the game.
I read a few passages to my class (not the bloody parts) and tied this into our Social Studies unit on the Aztec Indians. It worked well with the sacrifices that they performed.
It was a great book, but not for my class. I teach 3, 4, and 5. I would recommend this for middle school grades.

LizM said...

I gobbled this book up in one night -- like many others, I thought I could pick it up and read a few chapters, but ended up reading "just a chapter more" until it was done!

I teach 8th grade Language Arts, and I am anxious to have this book adopted for our curriculum. There are ties to "The Lottery" and "The Most Dangerous Game," and it could be taught in conjunction with The Giver as well.

Thank you, Suzanne Collins, for providing a believable female protagonist who has convictions and strong beliefs, who fights for what she needs and who takes responsibility for her family. The girls in my class will love her, and the boys will pick the book up for the survival aspect of it all.

Rating: 5!!

I will be holding my breath for a sequel, as she has promised that this is Book 1!

Pamela Kramer said...

Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
Rating: 5 –I want this at my picnic!

The absolutely worst part of Hunger Games was when I read the ending and realized that it was but the first of a series. I was devastated. I lived with the main character, Katniss, through her travails and wanted them to be over. I wanted my nice, happy ending and I didn’t want to have to wait for a sequel.

One does not feel empathy for Katniss, the main character, immediately. She is a hostile and at times, seemingly heartless, girl. She does take care of her family in several dangerous ways. One of them, hunting (an illegal activity) introduces her to the only person she is close to outside of her family. They cooperate for the hunt, but on the surface, never go beyond hunting partners.

Then, Katniss joins the Games. It’s fight to the death, and the other person from her district is Peeta, the baker’s son. He is Katniss’ opposite. Where she is ruthless, he is kind; where she is strong, he is weak. Without giving away much, the author takes time to develop Peeta’s feelings for Katniss and Katniss’ for him. The game itself is fascinating; it constantly evolves and the reader learns more and more about it as the plot unfolds.

Things are not what they seem in this book and Katniss learns about honor and loyalty. She also learns about friendship.

Many times while reading this book, I thought of the profusion and popularity of reality shows on television. The Game in this book seems, at times, to be a satire of some of these shows. It’s like the ultimate reality show. The winning prize: your life, riches and fame. The cost of losing: death.

Pamela Kramer
Highwood, Illinois

debnance said...

When I first heard about this book, the plot sounded derivative, already used in books like Ender’s Game and Surviving Antarctica. I kept hearing so much good buzz about it that I went ahead and read it anyway.

The plot is derivative, but with the book’s great characters and a heavy dose of hearty action, The Hunger Games is a strong read. Like most dystopian novels, this one pushes the warning buttons on the reader’s brain and sends your brain synapses a jolt that keeps the reader thinking long past the close of the book.

I’m looking forward to book two.

(I wouldn't be a responsible librarian if I didn't note that I can’t see this book in libraries with younger readers. Lots of violence.)

5

Debbie Nance, Librarian
Stevenson Primary School
Alvin, TX

Susan Appleton said...

Usually I do not like futuristic, fantasy books, but this book is well written and the characters are very well revealed. The plot pulls you in and you just can't stop reading! I can't wait to see the reactions of my students when they start borrowing it and reading it. I have 9 people of the "waiting list" so I may have to buy a couple more copies of it just to meet the demand. Loved it! Rated it a 5!

PLLoggerR said...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a richly detailed, well written futuristic book that will leave me with potential nightmares. Even so, I'll recommend this book to young adults (13 and up) and adults. Why? Because it has well developed characters, lots of action, a bit of a love story (young love and confusion), only moderate violence (but not too graphic; considering the premise, that's pretty good!),and is incredibly well written.

On the other hand, I'm disturbed by the premise--children killing children. Has our society sunk so low that this becomes entertainment? Clearly it is in the book, but must it be for today?

The book works because it draws you in, evokes emotion, and won't let you go. Your thoughts keep coming back to it, wondering why. You don't have to like it, but the premise and the book demand discussion and thought.

Highly recommended, but with reservations. A picnic basket 4--I wouldn't want to reread this too often, but I will read it again, after a while.

Mrs. B said...

I loved this book! I started reading it while my students were reading at the library, and I couldn't hardly put it down.(I even read it with the light of my cell phone while my husband drove!)

The book has a strong main character and an engaging plot. Students, male or female, will be drawn in by Katniss. This book could also be connected with "The Most Dangerous Game" as one suggested earlier as well as reality television and alternate societies.

I would give this a 5, and I would strongly recommend the book for middle schoolers or high schoolers. I cannot wait for the next book to come out! I hope I don't have to wait too long!

Linda Biondi said...

I just received my review copy today. It is not the type of book that I usually read, but after I read the first few pages, I was hooked. I was walking down the hallway at school, face into the book, hoping I didn't run into the wall. It was captivating.

Catherine Yezak said...

This was a fantastic story. I was a little leary of it, thinking there might be a lot of gore, but I was surprised to see a very strong story line and strong characters. I was especially impressed with Katniss and Rue's characters. I love seeing books with strong female characters. Even the male characters are strong, but they take a kind of backseat to the girls. It is definitely a nice balance to "Lord of the Flies" since 24 contestants must kill each other off to survive. And the Capital makes sure the citizens get their entertainment value, even if Katniss makes sure she can show some rebellion against them.
Catherine Yezak, Special Ed. Teacher, Marquette, Michigan

Mila said...

This book will keep your attention from the very first page. The premise of the story is interesting enough -- having kids as sacrifice in a Survivor-like game show, with ulterior motive to control subordinate regions -- but, what really catch me is the flow of the story. Relationship between Katniss and her family are raw. Her relationship with Gale are very poignant. And her adventure in the Hunger Games are breathtaking. It's definitely a book that you do not want to know the ending until you got there...
Picnic Rating: 5

Ms. Cole said...

Reviewed here. Warning: lengthy!

4.5/5 rating

MLCS said...

Oh my gosh, I started to read it on a field trip & couldn't put it down. It just developed the characters so well and the vivid details made me fell as if I were there. My heart string s were pulled, I didn't know who to trust. I can not wait for the sequel! There has to be one! Many of the reviews have explained Katniss and the book. But there is more to it than that. Being in NC, I figure we might be part of their Ward. It has an Orson Wells & Big Brother feel, but a romantic kindness to it in a harsh setting. I can see teenagers being drawn to this and adults. I was secpetical about putting into review but when I read about the dinner party I thought I had to read it. I'm so glad I did. It is one of those books that makes your heart race and yell at the page. At the same time Katniss is a true super hero that has risen above her lot in life and grwon up quickly as many children have & do.
It is a picnic favorite, but make sure you have a couple hours, because you woouldn't put it down.
5

Anonymous said...

WOW!!!!!

I agree with everyone who has said not to start this book unless you have time to finish it as you will not be able to put it down! I finished it in less than 24 hrs. It would have been done in less time if I didn't need to sleep and give a presentation at a staff development.

An amazing book. I was reminded of the 'Giver' or the movie 'Soylent Green'. WOW! I cannot say that enough.

I do have to make a comment on the trend of so many of today's authors- the writing of books in a series. I get incredibly frustrated with this- the books need to stand alone! I know it is the 'thing' to do (thank you J.K. Rowling) but it is hard to teach a book like this in a classroom.

Still is a definite read! I cannot wait for book #2.

D. J. Briley
Reading specialist/educator

wordwarrior said...

"When is book two going to be out!!!" This has been the most asked question from every student I have asked to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The story is a futuristic look at a time and place where the government controls the lives of all its citizens by requiring children from each district in the country to compete in a "survival" reality based game where the last one living is the victor. The story is compelling and well written. Definately a page turner. Plan to do nothing but read from page one till the end of the book because honestly, you can't put the book down. You have to find out what will happen to the characters in the game. I have had nothing but high praise from the students who have read this book and most have rated it as the best book they have read this semester. I agree. We are all anxiously waiting on the next book in the series. I am rating it a 5+ per my student reader's requests.

Stacey said...

Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happens next. Action aside...the story is a sad one. This story describes a society in which children are asked to kill other children as a punishment for some action committed by their forefathers. Talk about the sins of the father visited on the son. Katniss tries to maintain her humanity in the face of life and death struggles. She understands the give and take needed to survive. She kills only to stay alive. Unlike Cato, who set out to win at all costs, Katniss just wanted to survive as long as possible.
In the end, I think the best moral to this tale is no matter what, life goes on. We live and die and do what we need to do to survive. But, at the heart of all is love. Love of a sister, friend, or ourselves. And sometimes that love is what makes us continue with life when it would be easier to just give up.
But, I do have to say...I was upset when I got to the end and found out the story continues. Now I have to find out who she chooses...Gale or Peeta.

Stacey said...

Ooop..I forgot to rate the book. 5

Martine Battista said...

I also loved reading about the girl on fire. My review is late because I had students who just had to read it and I couldn't say no. I highly recommend this book for 7th grade and up. Yes, it's violent, but so is the news! I have middle school students lining up to read it. So many reviews have been more eloquent and I can't really add anything new to the thread, but I still want to give it a rating. I give it a 5 without hesitation.
Denair, Middle School Library
Denair, CA

Kim Carrier said...

The Hunger Games is an amazing story. Through the eyes of Katniss we learn about a world where the unthinkable happens each and every year. Children are chosen and forced to play the Hunger Games. If you are lucky you are the sole survivor among a group of 24 children age 12-18. It is a reality TV show that people watch for entertainment. The story is told through the eyes of Katniss, who has become one of the participants in the Hunger Games. She is very real and we feel for her. She helps us understand her world and why she does the things she does. She also helps us understand why the others in the game behave the way they do and instead of hating the other players, we begin to feel for all of them and the terrible predicament they are all in.

I could not put this book down. It was gripping. I was constantly thinking about the story and the underlying themes. It is amazing how real this story became. Suzanne Collins does a wonderful job painting a dark portrait of this insane world that Katniss lives in. She makes you feel for the characters and all they must live (or die) through. I would like to use this book with a parent/child book club. I think it would be interesting to compare the reactions from the parents versus the children. This is a perfect book for middle schoolers on up. I think it would be great for the relunctant reader. It is intriguing and relevant. I teach a college course for freshman and am going to look for a creative way to include this book in the curriculum. I think it is fantastic. There are so many elements to explore with a book like this. I cannot wait for the next in the series. This is the type of book that definitely leaves you wanting to know more. I would rate it as a 5!

Anonymous said...

I love this book as a reader and as a reading coach. I have shared it with my own daughter and then passed it on to a former student. It is definitely a 5+ on the rating scale. It kept us glued to it without rushing to end it. One of those books that leaves you wanting more!

melching5 said...

I am in complete agreement with many of the other reviewers on this site. You must give yourself enough time to read this book in one sitting. The characters are neither black nor white, but various shades of "morally gray." What seems to be a clear objective is surely not as Katniss must team up with the very people whom she must not only beat, but eventually kill. Aside from the incredible pacing of the story, it also draws uncomfortable parallels to today's modern society and our fascination with reality shows such as Survivor, The Bachelor, and The Great Race.
On a scale of 1 -5, this book rates a 10. I am anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Melissa said...

This book is an absolute must-read! Suzanne Collins so skillfully crafted this story that I was there with Katniss through the entire Hunger Games. The book had me hooked right from the beginning and kept me there through the many plot twists. It has appeal to both girls and boys which is a definite plus when using it in literature circles. So often books for this age tend to be gender-specific. The author does not spend an excess amount of time on the gory details of the battles but rather focuses on the characters involved. This allows for many multi-level discussions. Rating this book a 5 doesn't do it justice so I'm giving it a 5+++!

Gail Brisson said...

The Hunger Games is a great read! Collins tells a compelling and thrilling story, her characterizations are subtle, and the pace keeps you reading. This book is sure to have a wide appeal, since it has elements that will satisfy both boys and girls (how many books have weapons, a gritty survival story, and fashion?).

This is a 5-star book! Can't wait for the sequel.

Tegan said...

Rating - 5
Phenomenal! There are definite themes just begging to be explored in a classroom. I'm sure I will add this to my classroom library but, I will take into account the child's maturity before allowing them to check it out. If I were teaching a higher grade, this would definitely be one of the novels I would use. If ever I make the jump, it will be at the top of my list to teach.
Loved it!
Tegan Sexton
4th grade teacher
Ocean Springs, MS

Sandra Stiles said...

I was so excited when I received my copy of The Hunger Games. I loved the main character Katniss. I enjoyed her strength, her love for her family and loyalty. I got to the end and was disappointed it didn't continue. I was glad to read "Book One". I can't wait for the second one and know I won't be able to keep it on my shelf.

campbele said...

title: Hunger Games
author: Suzanne Collins
publisher: Scholastic Press
main character: Katniss Everdeen

I finished this books days ago but the review just would come. It was such an enjoyable book that it should have been easy to put pen to paper! But that’s just it: the book was too enjoyable. Hunger Games is a well written futuristic novel where the ‘hunger games’ are annual events that involve one boy and one girl from each of 12 territories being drafted to represent their region in a battle to the death. Last person standing wins. The inhabitants of this country are clearly oppressed and this fact is well represented in the lack of materials items people are prohibited from accumulating, the control of information and knowledge and the limits on movement from place to place. , the young narrator does a clear job of critiquing her circumstances, also too clear for a young person who lives within such a society. She is dedicated to her family and friends, so much so that when her young sister is drafted to participate in the games, steps in for her.

After the draft occurs, we read of the glamour and pageantry associated with the annual event, and this glitz flows right into the games. Games?? We are entertained while reading about the state sanctioned murders of 10 children! No, they’re not grotesque or gory but, should they have to be to give us pause? Instead, we find ourselves cheering for the young lovers to finally get together rather than hoping this nonsense will end! (becomes couple with the young boy who is also drafted from her region.)

Other than stating that this is a futuristic novel, I really don’t know what major themes exist in this book. Perhaps none were intended? Books can be written just to entertain! Again, this is a very well written book. It is evenly written and flows well. Characters and setting are well developed and the plot is flawless.

With what great works can it be paired? What major lessons does it teach? Perhaps irony. In the book, the people are suffering under oppression. Their leaders only teach them what they want them to know, show them what they want them to see and give the people what they think they need. It is very easy to get these people to be entertained by the hunger games which are produced into a television show that everyone watches. The great irony is that here, in our land of great freedom we are lulled into the same morbid sense of entertainment. In a land where anything goes, where the profane is profound, the lackadaisical is luxurious and crimes are comedy, it is as difficult to have a sense of morality in the free society as it is in the oppressed.

OK, this may be a bit much to get from this one book. Maybe. I suggest your read it and consider how you feel afterwards.

Anonymous said...

This is a great book! It really makes you think about what the future holds. Very interesting characters! My teeneage daughter also loved it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this book is a really good read. I enjoyed it. It is a good book to recommend for middle school ages. As I teach 4th grade, most of my students are not quite ready for it yet but I recommneded it to our librarian to purchase for the school library.

Anonymous said...

I could not put this book down. Once I started it I had to read it cover to cover. For me it was that gripping. The character development in the story was phenomenal and I felt my self tied to Katniss, Peeta and even Gale. I thought that how the author leads us through the event of the Hunger Games was also artfully done. This is a book that has the potential for being graphically violent and over the top with death. Collins however doesn't fall into that trap. She very nicely lets us know what is happening to the other characters in the story without stooping to a lower level and making it graphic. I was very pleased with that, knowing that it would make the book more appropriate for more students. I was disappointed in the ending, as it is a series book. This type of writing, that seems to be taking hold at the moment, is frustrating, especially if you are going to teach the book in a classroom. It leaves the students frustrated if they can't go out and immediately read the next book. Overall I loved this book and thought the topic was thought provoking in numerous ways. I wouldn't use it with students any younger than high school or possibly upper middle school, as they wouldn't be ready for the content.
K. Anderson - Colorado

Anonymous said...

Hunger Games was a very exciting, energy-packed read. I give it a 5 on the Picnic Basket scale and I recommended it to 4 other readers and educators as soon as I had finished it. Katniss was a complex character, not easily lent to common gender roles. The writing evoked emotions and excitement in the course of the novel. I can easily see my advanced readers finishing the book in one or two long sittings.

The immediate application I thought of after reading Hunger Games was our study of survival in times or war, natural disaster, etc. Everyone reacts differently to times of crisis, which the Games definitely are time of crisis for the characters. Behavior is then defined by character. I will have my young scholars read Hunger Games as a lead up to discussion about survival, character, honor, mercy, etc. I will ask which character they identified with most and least, discuss choices they might have made in the Games.

The beautiful thing about this novel is that it has so many applications and so many directions in which to go in discussing the plot and characters. It is a story that the students will react to with emotion. I can't wait to get started.

A. Bowers
Chandler, AZ

Mary Lou said...

Hunger Games hooks the reader. This book is for young adult readers, possibly to include mature sixth grade readers. The reader will become involved with the characters. Predictions and questions will fill the readers mind. The reader’s mind will be racing along with the main characters as the main characters use their knowledge to stay alive and be true to who they are.
At times I felt I shouldn’t read on. No, don’t stop, read faster. This book definitely causes the readers to think about life and what if they were in the main character’s place. Are decisions harder when the decision effects the life of others. Or do you make a decision only thinking of yourself? America is no more and there is a new nation where life is bleak. Life is survival of the fittest. I rank this book a 5, but reader beware because this book is gritty.
by Mary Lou D., literacy facilitator, Bella Vista Elementary, Cottonwood Heights, Utah

Jacqueline Simmons, M.Ed said...

This is a winner for young adults! I give this book five stars because it is engulfed with suspense. Y. adults need a book that will capture their attention from the first page to the last page of the book! This futuristic gem is so spine-tingling and I guarantee that the youngsters will not put this down! Kudos for authors working hard to capture the attention of young adults!

Good One!

***** 5 stars!

dmuldawer said...

Nothing new here but wanted to add that my sixth-grade students LOVE this book. Ordered four more copies from Scholastic and they're always out and there's a waiting list. Most kids finish it, pick it up, and immediately start to reread it. This goes for girls and boys, readers and non-readers.

We bought a class set for our school and our librarian is ordering six copies for the shelves.

deltay said...

I recently went out and bought a copy of The Hunger Games (I guess my request went in too late), but I figured I'd post a copy of my review here anyway. :) Firstly, Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games is an absolutely breathtaking masterpiece. I seem to be on a bit of an dysfunctional futuristic sci fi rampage these days, what with reading Anthem, The Chrysalids, and researching 1984, Brave New World, and the like. And The Hunger Games completely blew me away with its originality. That's not to say every single concept was entirely unheard of previously (hearing the premise before reading, it reminded me of Gloria Skurzynski's The Virtual War Chronologs), but the execution was definitely Collins's own.

The voice was excellent. It was distinctive, wry at times, with dispersed bits of dry humour - which is quite the feat, considering the fact that this is a book about survival by killing other kids your age. The tense - present - was barely noticeable. In fact, half the time, it was like the words fell away and the immediacy offered just brought the reader that much closer to Katniss because of the barely noticeable tense. I mean, with most books, on some level you're aware that you're simply reading the story. But with The Hunger Games, there were moments where the words just fell away and it was like actually being immersed in the story. And the flashbacks! Wow - incorporating backstory like that, in such a form, without making it seem like an infodump - that in itself is a huge accomplishment, which is more than can be said for a lot of others.

The characterization of Katniss was excellent. I enjoyed the fact that her shortcomings were realistically portrayed in an endearing way. Especially the way - epitome of show, don't tell, as far as writers' advice goes. The flaws seemed natural, not purposely fabricated to escape Sue-dom, but simply part of who she is. She's a spunky one. (And alright, I may be slightly biased, having slight feminist tendencies at times, seeing as how Katniss is such a strong female lead.) In contrast, there were slight moments of too much perfection coming from Peeta Mellark at times, but viewed from Katniss's narration, these hardly made a noticeable impact.

However, throughout the novel, Peeta's name kept bothering me. And I couldn't figure out why. But now I have - Peeta. Does that not remind you of pita bread? The baker's son? If that was indeed what Collins was going for; ingeniously sly.

Let's face it. Most of us probably have not experienced the things that Katniss and Peeta have; going without food, being beaten for burning bread, and certainly not the Games themselves. Such is the skill of Collins, being able to pull the audience in, allowing them to emphathize with something so different, so remote. Diction choice just had to extra zesty zing.

The premise also brings up a lot of interesting concepts. We have to admit it - with the way media is going nowadays, I mean honestly, reality t.v., there's not a lot of thinking involved. Purely entertainment value, right? Somehow, Collins took this concept, tossed it into a crock-pot with the whole Gladiators concept, and churned out something so deeply thought-provoking. Is our society already headed in such a direction?

And it's not blatantly thought-provoking either; it's one of those novels that creeps up on you, subconciously starting a thought process that continues into conciousness. While being an entertaining read, especially how even in such dire situations, she is able to inject spasms of humour. The Hunger Games is utter brilliance.

5+

Gabrielle Gambill said...

This is going to be the book of the year at my school. Katness is a strong character who takes charge of her family when her father dies. She has provided for them at great risk to herself and the other families in District 12. The sequel is equally as good, I would recommend this to every middle school kid who likes action, suspense, romance.

Gayle said...

I read this book over the Christmas break and am very excited to use it in my reading class this semester. I would like to find a classroom set if anyone knows of a good place to get one. The possible topics of discussion are very different.