Monday, August 16, 2010

Review x 2: The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA
Pages: 384
Date Published: October 2008
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Borrowed from my cousin (I will be buying a copy for myself soon)
Rating: 5 of 5 stars!

Book description (from the publisher):
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlaying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one girl and one boy 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 is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has also resolved to outwit the creators of the games. To do that she will have to be the last person standing at the end of the deadly ordeal, and that will take every ounce of strength and cunning she has.
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, YA
Pages: 391
Date Published: November 2009
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Self-purchased
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book description (from the publisher):
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge!

For months I had been hearing about how great The Hunger Games was, from book blogger friends and offline friends as well, when my cousin offered to let me borrow her copy. I was excited but a little nervous. Would the book live up to the hype? Would I be able to appreciate the morbid setting of this series, which involves kids having to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of a bunch of adults? But the anticipation was too much to make me hesitate for longer than a couple of minutes, and I dove in right away and devoured it in one evening/early morning. When I closed the book, I felt borderline obsessed. I couldn't stop thinking about the characters (Katniss is fabulous--complicated and admirable) and the frightening world Ms. Collins had created. The feeling I was left with was very similar to the feeling I got when I was reading the Harry Potter series for the first time, and that ended up becoming my favorite series ever. I read this book in January, but put off writing a review until I read Catching Fire. Considering that just about everyone in the world has heard about this series, I didn't feel like I would be contributing much to the discussion by doing a full review of each book, so that's why I'm doing a short review of both books at the same time.

I knew the next step would be to read book 2, Catching Fire, but I made myself wait until closer to the release of book 3, Mockingjay (August 24). I had really been looking forward to it, and finally picked it up this week. Catching Fire was good, but I didn't think it was as good as The Hunger Games had been. I have been mulling over why I came to this conclusion for a few days, and I think it comes down to the descriptions and writing not being as crisp and compelling to me as in the first book. It was kind of disappointing that I didn't have the same obsessed feeling after finishing this book, but I still rather enjoyed the book, and am eagerly waiting to learn the fate of our beloved Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, their families, and the districts in rebellion.

Probably the first question I would get to this mini-review would ask whether I am Team Gale or Team Peeta, so I'd better address that. I was leaning toward Team Peeta after book 1, and I think I'm in the same position after reading book 2. I don't really want to debate too much about it, but let's just say that Gale is too moody for my taste. Regardless of my personal taste, I do want Katniss to be happy. She deserves that. So whatever happens, I hope her heart isn't broken.

I'm really enjoying this series so far, and can't wait to dig into Mockingjay as soon as I can get my hands on a copy on August 24.

Related linkage:
Reading Challenges: Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge (YA and Shiny & New)


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