This was originally reviewed over at Just One More Page as a combined review between JC and I.
We’ve come late to this series, but I think that in itself is a blessing – it meant we could power through all three novels one after the other, never having to wait for the next installment. As such, in some ways it’s difficult to separate the three into different books as both JC and I read them straight through.
Because we both read, and loved, these books, we decided to do a joint post! So you’ll get both of our thoughts on each of the books in the series. I will say now though, that we are going to do out VERY best not to give any spoilers away for those of you who haven’t had a chance to read yet.
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, 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.
Leigh says: Katniss Everdeen has been dealt blow after blow in her short life, but the first thing you realise is that she is a survivor. You could throw anything at her, and she would come out stronger than ever. But this isn’t to say that she is so strong that she doesn’t have any weaknesses. She does. And it’s these weaknesses that are potentially her undoing.
J.C. says: I love how vividly she is portrayed. She lives and breathes survival, to the point where she seems to be completely unaware of other things going on around her. Her interpersonal skills are not honed very well, while her hunting/survival skills are stellar. She is quite self absorbed, which you can see is because she has taken on the role of provider and it consumes all of her energy and time.
Leigh says: This book displays a brutal vision of dystopian life and death, family bonds, war, friendship, uprisings, violence, and submissive nations. On one hand, it shows humanity’s survival at its finest, and on the other hand – at its worst. There are a lot of storylines weaved into this piece of work, and Suzanne Collins has done this seamlessly to engage the reader. There is something for everyone. This book is no love story, by any stretch of the imagination. She could have drawn undying love into it, but she didn’t. She drew in unrequited love and survival.
J.C. says: I really appreciated that about the book. There are so many love stories around, and while love is important this book is about life and death. Literally. The stakes are huge and you can’t help but get invested in Katniss plight. I love how rich this world is, how fully realized. The world building is fantastic and I could see it all in my mind as I was reading.
Leigh says: My favourite part in this book was the building of the friendship with one of the contestants, Rue, in the arena. I loved the connection that they had with each other. The hardest part was knowing that one of them had to die. The gripping part was wondering how it would happen.
J.C. says: I loved the friendship between Katniss and Rue as well, it was a beautiful thing. I also really loved the way Katniss and Peeta’s relationship developed through the book. He was a great contrast in character to her, and they certainly worked the game to their full advantage.
When you go into a book like this, you know fairly early on that many of the characters you meet aren’t going to be alive at the end of the book. As the body count rises, your anxiety level rises as well, and while you are fairly certain that Katniss makes it out alive (the book is written in first person, and you know it’s the beginning of a series), there are some moments where you’re holding your breath, waiting to see what the outcome is. Who will be next? How will it happen? As sick as it seems, the voyeuristic nature of humans is apparent – we the reader can’t stop reading, and we can kind of relate to the way the Capitol are captivated by the Hunger Games too.
Leigh says: Wow, how is that for a premise? A fight to the death. To say that this book is ‘violent’ is an understatement. It is absolutely horrific. The first thing that struck me about this book is that it is aimed at an age audience of eleven and up. Would I let an eleven year old year old read this? Hell yes. Why? Because this book is written beautifully, has incredible character development, it’s absolutely riveting, and all the goodness and all the darkness in a broken world. I am a firm believer that children will not read literature that their brain is not ready to absorb and grow from. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading this, and I craved for more. This book rendered me completely antisocial, and when I was actually social – I was talking about the book.
There is a lot of narrative humour in this book that you just know a sixteen year old would be thinking, but would never say aloud. It was fabulous.
I would recommend this book to everyone, whether they are young or old. If I could give this book more than 5 stars, then I would. Some books are just a really good read, some books change your outlook on life. This is one of those books.
J.C. says: I’m in much the same boat. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves character and plot strong books. Anyone who wants to escape the real world for a little while (because once you start, I highly doubt you’ll be able to stop reading). It is a brutal read, but a fantastic one.