[B]rilliantly plotted and perfectly paced...a futuristic novel every bit as good and as allegorically rich as Scott Westerfeld's "Uglies" books...the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins's convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine. In fact, by not calling attention to itself, the text disappears in the way a good font does: nothing stands between Katniss and the reader, between Panem and America. This makes for an exhilarating narrative and a future we can fear and believe in, but it also allows us to see the similarities between Katniss's world and ours.
John Green - New York Times
This gripping tale explores ever-timely topics—violence-as-entertainment and rule-by-intimidation—and through Katniss holds out the possibility of change.
Mary Quattlebaum - Washington Post
Whereas Katniss kills with finesse, Collins writes with raw power...The Hunger Games and Catching Fire expose children to exactly the kind of violence we usually shield them from. But that just goes to show how much adults forget about what it's like to be a child. Kids are physical creatures, and they're not stupid. They know all about violence and power and raw emotions. What's really scary is when adults pretend that such things don't exist.
(Audio version.) Suzanne Collins's first book of a planned trilogy introduces an easy-to-imagine, cruel future society divided by wealth and obsessed with media and celebrity. The controlling Capitol broadcasts the Hunger Games, mandatory watching for all citizens of Panem. The annual event pits 24 Tributes-a girl and boy teen from each of the 12 Districts surrounding the Capitol-against one another in a desperate battle to the death. When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her younger sister's place as District Twelve's girl Tribute, she is thrown into a media frenzy, complete with stylists and costumes, literally fighting for her life in the arena. Intense, graphic action, along with a touch of romance, makes this dystopic adventure a great choice for older reluctant readers. Although the plot mimics both Stephen King's The Long Walk (1999) and Running Man (1999) as well as Koushon Takami's Battle Royale (2007), Collins creates a fascinating world and Katniss is a believably flawed and interesting character. Carolyn McCormick ably voices the action-packed sequences and Katniss's every fear and strength shines through, along with her doomed growing attraction to one of her fellow Tributes. This engrossing audiobook belongs in all public and school libraries. —Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI
School Library Journal
This is an amazingly suspenseful story, combining the familiar ("Survivor"-type TV shows) with details of a horrific future. Once again, an author chooses a future in which some calamity has created a society cowed into submission by dictators, and manipulated and controlled through technology. The Hunger Games are this future culture's way of entertaining and frightening the people, all at once. Young people are chosen by lot as participants in the games. Once chosen, the "contestants" scheme for the others' deaths—real deaths—because that is the only way to survive: to be the last person standing. The people follow the "action" via camera, with strategy and suffering presented as entertainment (sort of like the action in the Roman Empire's Coliseum, I suppose). The heroine is 16-year-old Katniss, a skilled hunter and survivor managing to keep her mother and younger sister alive in their repressive society. When Katniss's younger sister, who is not very strong, draws the lot, Katniss takes her place, willing to die for her family. In a masterstroke of strategic planning, Katniss teams up with another contestant, a boy she has known in her village, to ensure their survival. The "games" themselves are nonstop action: physical, mental, emotional. Readers will be absorbed in the action, identifying with Katniss and frightened by this view of a possible future. —Claire Rosser
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen cannot believe it when her younger sister Prim is chosen as the female tribute from their district at the Reaping. In this futuristic society, each district is required to send two tributes to the Games in the Capitol where they must fight to the death while the whole country watches on live television. To protect her sister, Katniss volunteers to take her place, knowing that she will probably never again return home. Twenty-four young people are dropped off in a remote area and must fight for survival against the harsh conditions and each other. Only one is allowed to live. Katniss and Peeta, the other tribute from District 12, form an uneasy alliance that blossoms into romance amid the brutality and deprivation of the Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta try to rebel against the Gamemakers but discover that they must play the game to its end. Collins moves up a level from the "Gregor the Overlander" books in this gripping story that is the first of a new trilogy. Themes of government control, "big brother," and personal independence are explored amidst a thrilling adventure that will appeal to science fiction, survival, and adventure readers. The suspense of this powerful novel will keep the reader glued to the page long after bedtime. —Deborah L. Dubois
(Starred review.) What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. "They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet," she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch. —Megan Whalen Turner
Katniss Everdeen is a survivor. She has to be; she's representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America. To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy, 24 in all, to fight like gladiators in a futuristic arena. The event is broadcast like reality TV, and the winner returns with wealth for his or her district. With clear inspiration from Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and the Greek tale of Theseus, Collins has created a brilliantly imagined dystopia, where the Capitol is rich and the rest of the country is kept in abject poverty, where the poor battle to the death for the amusement of the rich. Impressive world-building, breathtaking action and clear philosophical concerns make this volume, the beginning of a planned trilogy, as good as The Giver and more exciting. (11 & up.)
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