So just what is up with The Hunger Games?

Hello my lovelies!  Today, Wednesday Review welcomes back its own secret weapon, the international YA reviewer of mystery, SSH (or Sekrit Squirrels Helper) to tell you why there is all this fuss about The Hunger Games.  The book, that is.  She hasn’t seen the movie and having read the book doesn’t want to

The Hunger Games

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic country, Panem, which lies over the ashes of North America. The world is changed, and as far as we know, this is the only nation of humans left alive. At the centre of this dystopian world is the Capitol (because apparently the powers that be can’t spell).*  The rest of the country is divided into districts, each with a role to play that benefits the Capitol. The country is completely under the thumb of the government, working their lives away to care for the Capitol, while they starve.

There is nothing the people can do against the government; before the last uprising there were thirteen districts. There are twelve now.  People are starving, and Katniss, the main character has to break death penalty laws to get food. The authorities know about this, but they are starving too.

Just to prove how helpless they are, each year two children from each district between twelve and eighteen are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a horrifying reality TV show, where twenty-four go in and only one comes out alive. Will Katniss, be that one? Read the book to find out, ‘cos I’m sure not going to tell you!

You would have had to have been living under a rock with excellent sound-proofing and no internet, not to have noticed that since the announcing of the Hunger Games movie, the books have exploded in popularity. Having read the first book in the series, I can see the reason it is generating so much buzz.

It is an extremely well-written book, which had me in unbearable suspense until the very last page. I spent hours and hours reading, because I just couldn’t put it down, so ensure you have an empty day before you start, or you might miss a lot. However, as Suzanne Collins say at the end of The Hunger Games, “Katniss does something that would never go unpunished in her world; there would definitely be repercussions”. I’m just dying to know what they are, so look out for the next review, once I am no longer glued to the page. Once again, however, you will have to read the books to know what she did and what will happen, because my lips are sealed.

I would recommend this for anyone over ten** who loves a well written book; it has something for everyone  who reads. This novel was written by Suzanne Collins. It was first published in hard cover form by Scholastic in September 2008, and I don’t think it is going away any time soon.

*Please note, American readers, that the reviewer is in the YA demographic and Australian and consequently doesn’t know about this spelling of the word to mean the government building in Washington.  Rather than tell her, I thought I’d leave this in the review because 1) it’s funny and 2) it’s a lesson to writers not to take for granted that the rest of the world understands your local language idiosyncrasies.

**Note from Imelda.  Please note that the subject matter is quite gruesome.  The SSH refused an offer to see the film, although she enjoyed the book, on the grounds that there were several parts of the book that she didn’t want to see on screen.  So, even if you give it to your pre-teen to read, you might want to watch the movie yourself before letting them see it.

16 thoughts on “So just what is up with The Hunger Games?

      • I have kids inThe Writer’s Club who are 10 years old and have read it. My 13 year old who is pretty sensitive, didn’t find it at all difficult in that regard. In fact she is quite obsessed!! It’s hard to call because with this sort of content, so much depends on the reader and his/her experience/maturity. And the opportunities they have to talk about the book after reading it. My advice with younger readers is for a parent to read the book as well so there’s opportunity to debrief and debate. We are still thinking and talking
        about it months later.

        • Thanks for that, Beth, it’s great to have the insight of someone with a few people to compare! That sounds about what I thought. Sounds like generally good advice – and provides the excuse to adults to read some of the FABULOUS YA books out there!

  1. Being a member of the pitiful demographic who chose to see the movie first, I decided reading the book wasn’t necessary, but I think I’ve been swayed; yours is the second convincing review I’ve read, and I can’t say no to some suspense. (The last book I couldn’t put down from start to finish was HP7, so it’s been a while)

    • I hope it lives up to the reviews, James. I haven’t read it myself yet, but herself liked it very much and has the next two stacked up to be devoured shortly. Let us know how you go!

  2. Great book. I’ve got two and three on my to be read pile (which is growing by the minute). I thought the review of the Hunger Games was was wonderful and understand why the writer does not want to see the film. I made the mistake of taking my 10 and 8 year old and really I had to cover their eyes for so many parts of the movie. It’s emotionally scary. I don’t advise it for children under 15 but that’s me. My son is an emotional boy and said after the movie, “I don’t want you to ever take me to see a film like that”. I agreed that it was a huge mistake on my part. So basically, I’m with the wonderful writer that wrote this smashing post. Yay! Hope to see more reviews from you in the future.


    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Effie! The SSH is very grateful! I have been in that position before, of taking the child to a movie, then sitting there wondering what on earth I have got myself into, as they stiffen in horror next to me – that’s why I thought I should add that bit! I haven’t seen this movie, but I got the impression it could be more than a little scary and you have now confirmed that…. thanks again for coming by. Oh, and the SSH and I love your wings!

      • The SSH and you are very welcome. Yes I didn’t like the fact that I stuffed up royally with that one. Won’t do it again. I as an adult I enjoyed it but it wasn’t for my kids.
        Oh I’m glad you both like my wings. I like them too. Have to fly, kids are hungry.

  3. Yay for an excellent review. I’m thinking I don’t want to either read the book or watch the film, being a bit of a delicate type myself.

  4. Excellent job SSH! I enjoyed reading it. Like your ‘coach’, you have a very nice turn of phrase. Indeed if I didn’t know your actual age I would have thought you much older. Well done!

    • Thanks for coming, Chris! She’s very touched with all the comments. And I didn’t coach her! It’s all her own work! (She works for books – it’s all win/win around here.)

  5. I read the books last year and was quite curious on how the violence in the book would be portrayed on film and still maintain a MPAA PG-13 rating. I, as an adult reader/movie go-er, think they did a great job at maintaining the integrity of the book (themes, characters, etc) and not making the violence gratuitous. Because the book is about what it is, it would not be possible to eliminate the violence entirely without completely destroying the movie, but I think they did a good job of it. I have seen much worse (although those movies were rated R).

    For children, I honestly think it is something that each parent would have to decide their child could handle. Each person/child is different and if you had a younger child that could deal with the violence in the movie, then maybe give it a shot. However, it is rated PG-13 (in the US) for a reason. Younger viewers were not intended to watch it. Even with my own children (if I had any), no matter how mature they might be, I would probably be hesitant to take them to see the movie. I would probably be hesitant to even let them read the book. THG series is a young adult series. I don’t consider 8 year olds as “young adults.”

    Great review! 🙂

    • Thanks! Yes, that’s why I put the caveat in. It can be a bit tricky for parents. What the movie-makers think is okay might not match your ideas and what they think is an issue might not be in your family. Advanced readers can be tricky. What they are ready to read, they may not be ready for the concepts of. I do think though, that books are ‘safer’ than movies in that way. If a book gets too scary, you can put it down until you are ready to go on. Or you can skip the bits that bother you. And to some extent, the scariness is limited by your own imagination. When an adult imagination puts it on the screen in all its glory and you are stuck in the cinema, its’ a different story. For both Harry Potter and LOTR, our rule was you got to see the movie once you had read the book!

      Thanks for commenting. Great to have the perspective of someone who has both read the books and seen the movies!

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