Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."

The abstract is hidden because it may contain spoilers. If you would like to read the full summary, simply use your cursor to highlight the next few lines and it will magically appear.

Abstract: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.

Publisher: Scholastic, 374 pages


Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am the first to comment. This book was the best I have read so far. Katniss Everdeen is a great character. She is written believably and with a lot of spunk. This book really interested me because it has such an original idea for a story. It kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire read. I feel like this novel is a young adult book and therefore shouldn't be on the Newberry list. I enjoyed it immensely anyway and it is most definitely award winning material.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Peter that this is a great book. The character development of Katniss is excellent, the sense of place is awesome, and the pacing throughout is right on target. I also agree that it is for an older reader, but I think it still falls within the range of the Newbery. According to the official Newbery criteria: Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered. I'll be curious to hear if others think this thought-provoking book is appropriate for kids who are 14, and should be go onto our Mock Newbery list.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and pretty much read it in one sitting with little breaks.

I did think it had one flaw. There is no explanation given of how the Capitol manages to film the Hunger Games, which are conducted in an “arena” that stretches over miles of territory. At one point a couple characters are hidden in a little cave with only a small entrance but the cameras are somehow in there capturing the conversation. All the contestants wear tracking devices, but still…it was hard to suspend disbelief since no explanation was given. Are the cameras supposed to be little winged things that follow the contestants around? Who knows.

Well, we’ll see if the Newbery and Printz committees think that’s a flaw or not. --Mari

Anonymous said...

This was the best book I have read in a long time, I couldn't stop reading! i can't wait for the rest of the trilogy.

Anonymous said...

There have been several past winners that certainly stretch the upper boundaries of Newbery age appropriate-ness, so, like Mary says, The Hunger Games shouldn't be ignored on that count. And I think it's the most captivating and entertaining book I've read all year. Is it also the most distinguished? I'm not entirely convinced of such, but I'd like to see it discussed a bit more. So my vote says put it on a short list!

DaNae said...

I finished this over the weekend and I'm in desperate need of a book club. If you haven't read it yet, STOP reading this post! I'm going to drop all kinds of spoiler stuff.
For those of you who have finished it, and if you are currently reading it I'm sure you are not on-line because you would need to put the book down, and that may be physically impossible. Tell me what you thought of the following?
Did any of you think that there would be a mass escape before the blood bath started?
How many of you thought that once it was clear that Katniss would not have to eliminate Peeta, the following eliminations would happen about the way they did, without either one of them really dirtying their hands? I felt it was kind of contrived, but completely necessary for a children's book.
Are some of as excited as I am for the follow-up, but dreading the obligatory love triangle? (I really hope neither Gale nor Peeta will not be forced to wait for Katniss’ offspring to mature to find love.)

Rose Stuart said...

I just finished the book this morning, and also really loved it. It was riveting and well-written. I also like the fact that I didn't have to keep track of 24 different characters. Collins distinguished the characters without encumbering the story. I also think it falls into the age range for the Newbery, and would love to see it honored. It’s interesting how Collins made the story more accessible by framing it like a modern TV survivalist show…what do the rest of you think about this?

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed it a lot. Like eating a twinkie. But not distinguished. What happened to the literary value of a satisfying ending? Practically disqualifies itself by leaving us hanging. This is an argument I have with my students all the time. My students nearly always vote for a series title. I nearly always howl that it doesn't stand alone.

Heather said...

I wish that I had commented soon after reading, so that I could remember all that I wanted to say.

I enjoyed it, but there were some flaws (here is where my memory breaks down) that interrupted the story for me. The ending stands out as one - I can't imagine SPOILER that they would have both been allowed to live. That just doesn't make good TV or make people fear the Capitol. If the Capitol can be beat, they are doing something wrong and an organization powerful enough to create The Hunger Games and all of the other things in this world would not be beat. Ever. Period.

Genie Bishop said...

This is the best book I have read this year. The character development was excellent. The pace of the story was just right. I was concerned about it being bloody but the parts that could have been this way were handled wonderfully. The suspense was so good. I couldn't believe it when Katniss was allowed to live because she had been so kind to Rue. I have to say I was surprised about how Peeta and Katniss saved themselves in the end but as far as making the Capital look weak I don't think so. I got the feeling that the two of them were in for all kinds of trouble down the road because they out did the Capital in the Hunger Games.

Jen said...

What a riveting read! Really glad it made the list so we can discuss it, though I'm not sure it fits the bill of 'distinguished' the way some others I've read this year have.


I was taken out of the story a little bit when the camera was able to 'follow' the characters even in a (dark?) cave. I wondered even as I was reading whether cameras had been placed ahead of time, and whether more were added when kids went away from a hideout. I also didn't care for the wolves near the end. It seemed more like trying to create a movie special effect within a book that was doing just fine without it.

That being said, I consumed this book in less than a day, no pun intended. It does seem reminiscent of plenty of other stuff: The Most Dangerous Game, Battle Royale, Lost-- and even LeGuin's short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, which I just happened to grab off my husband's nightstand right before reading Hunger Games. What I like most about it is how it highlights where our society could go from our obsession with 'reality shows' and relative comfort with the pain of others.

A highly discussable, thought-provoking work.

Ian said...

I was worried for a while that this book was setting up this incredibly inequitable society and was just going to leave it that way. I realized that the author wasn't heading for a resolution of that central problem with the society about 1/3 of the way through the book, and it made it difficult for me to read, because if you just track the Games and stop at the end, it's completely inadequate, in my opinion.

But when I realized that it's the first of three books, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The author is taking her time about resolving the main problem, and has set things up in this first book that could lead to the resolution. Still, I think she probably should have set up just a bit more, since this book does have to stand on its own ... and without more promise that the central inequity is going to be addressed, it's a conservative book (yes, those in power have been given a little poke when they had to change the rules, but very little changes by the end) and it doesn't hold out much hope.

Clare said...

I loved this book! I can’t wait to read the other books in the trilogy as they come out.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with Ian, regarding that the book doesn't hold out much hope. In a hopeless situation, Katniss and Peeta wouldn't have "won." While the Capitol and the Gamekeepers manipulate the outcome of most things, the reaction and response of the people, while seemingly shallow, is still a concern in keeping the masses subdued.

I am debating with myself regarding its ability to stand-alone. At this point, I think it can. In fact, I appreciate the straight-forwardness of the "End of Book One." The drama of the Hunger Games was plenty for one book, and it will be the rare reader who won't care enough about the characters to wonder what happens to them and will be relieved that we will have the opportunity.

The power of the plot and characters allows me to overlook my question as to how they can have cameras everywhere, even in the cave. If you can suspend disbelief that a society can mutate genes in such frightening ways, the cameras would be a minor feat and as objects, so small, probably microscopic, that none of them could see them. Besides that, an explanation of the cameras would be beyond Katniss' understanding and would jar us out of the story.

Interesting mix of books for discussion again this year. I almost skipped reading this one. Glad I didn't

Anonymous said...

1. Have you checked your address (or perhaps the address of a friend) in google maps and then clicked on the "street view" picture? It is QUITE FRIGHTENING! Ack! The detail, the ability to spin 360 degrees to check out the neighbors, to walk down the street. If this is possible and free on google, sure I can believe that the cameras are everywhere in this future - even in dark caves.

2. Or with the genetic manipulation & medical procedures that they are capable of (do you realize what is happening in the real world? talk about scary), maybe the cameras and microphones are in the people.

Mary said...

Comment received via email:
oh my gosh,wow!!! Loved it--not sure how it would fly with
5th graders but will be pushing my 8th graders to read it. Very tight
plot--violence was not tooooo bad. 1st book--can't wait for the next. It
was a greeeeeaaatttt book!!
-- Anne

Mary said...

Received via email from Martha S.:

This should really be a YA title and my staff is surprised that I ordered it for the Children's Dept, but I found it absolutely gripping and I am sure it will win something!