The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

By Ekta R. Garg

July 31, 2013

Rated: Bookmark it!

Several years ago a good friend from high school told me about a series of books she’d read that she thought I would enjoy.  She told me the name—The Hunger Games—but she couldn’t quite explain the idea behind the books and I smiled and nodded and then forgot about them.

Then last year my sister told me about The Hunger GamesShe’d already recommended The Twilight Saga, and at the time I hadn’t started reading the epic vampire romance yet.  So I thought I’d take this suggestion a little more seriously.

It also helped that my husband, on my sister’s recommendation, bought me the box set of the series.

I read all three books in about four days, fighting sleep, ignoring laundry, only giving my children the most cursory of attention.  When I opened Mockingjay, I texted my sister and told her I was running on minimal sleep and that the end better be worth the burning eyes and extreme fatigue I felt.

It was.

Scholastic, Inc., published The Hunger Games series, which automatically placed the books in the YA category.  But readers of any age will identify with Katniss, with her sense of responsibility and the agony of her sacrifice.  Readers interested in almost any genre will appreciate Katniss’ confusion, her anger, and her indecisiveness.  And all readers will understand the futility of the Hunger Games as an event and will feel the spark that turns into a raging fire in Katniss’ heart to do something.

Needless to say, I fell in love with the series.  Last summer when I read all three books for the first time I sped through them, trying to skim sentences as I found myself captivated by the entire story.  I didn’t sleep enough during those four days, and the climax of the book left me reeling.  So when I decided to add the book to the “Books of Hype” list, I knew I had to find a way to allow myself to truly absorb the story.

Earlier this summer I read The Hunger Games, and then I slid it inside its box and walked away from the series for about a week.  For that week I let the details of the first book simmer in my imagination and heart.  Then I picked up Catching Fire and worked my way through that, forcing myself to slow down and read each and every sentence despite my reader brain urging me to hurry to the end.

I wanted to start Mockingjay right away, but once again I forced myself to wait.  I didn’t find it as difficult as I did between the first two books.  Knowing the end gave me a stronger motivation to wait.  But finally I had to give in to my inner bibliophile and started and finished the last book.  And spent several hours in a slight melancholy afterward.

Suzanne Collins challenges her readers with every chapter and every major plot twist.  She doesn’t hold back—just when things get about as bad as the reader can imagine, Collins jumps in and makes them worse.  And then she crosses a certain boundary when readers least expect it, and coming to that point the first time in the series made my heart reverberate with shock.

I found myself disagreeing with the construction of a few sentences, but I think my editor brain no longer contains the ability to turn off when I read anything so this doesn’t surprise me.  Overall, however, I felt like Collins made a brave choice in the way she constructed the plots of each individual book and the series as a whole.  I’m sure, if I asked her about it, she might say that she wrote the story that her characters demanded.  But I still wonder whether she had a moment during the writing process when her breath might have caught at what exactly Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and everyone else in the book required of her.

I would recommend The Hunger Games in a heartbeat to anyone.  If you like to read anything at all, you absolutely have to read The Hunger Games.  Without a doubt it will change the way you look at books and maybe even at life.

***

What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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