Cover of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

About the Book

Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Published: 2008
Series: The Hunger Games
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

BFF Charm: YAY!
Talky Talk: No Messing Around
Bonus Factors: Battle Royale, Dystopia, Project Runway
Relationship Status: ETERNAL LOVE x INFINITY Plus 1

The Deal:

Ok first of all, let me just say that if you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, DO NOT WASTE TIME BY READING THIS REVIEW. Go immediately to your local bookstore/library, obtain this book (henceforth known as HG), and then read it, i.e. CHANGE YR LIFE FOREVER. You guys. This book does not eff around, and neither do I, so SERIOUSLY. GO READ IT. NOW.

Well! Now that I’m done evangelizing (but only for a few moments, because I cannot really rest until the entire world has been exposed to the amazing power of HG, and I WILL PUT ON A SUIT AND RIDE A BIKE IF I HAVE TO), let me just say that I feel the need to write this post before FYA reviews Catching Fire (the HG sequel) next week. With that said, y’all, this is hard. And by “hard” I mean HOW CAN I CONTAIN MY FEELINGS ABOUT HG IN ONE MEASLY BLOG ENTRY?

But, obvs I am a professional, so I will give it the old Katniss (holla!) try. And, in case you haven’t picked up HG but you’re still reading this entry in spite of my V. SERIOUS COMMAND at the top, I will try to avoid spoilers. At least, most of them, like, say, the end.

Oh and also this entry is going to be extremely long (<– I went back and added this warning after writing the entire post, i.e. FYA’s Gravity’s Rainbow, so you know I am not kidding around).

Basically, HG is set in a dystopian version of America, where the remaining part of the country (East Coast?) is divided up into twelve districts ruled by the Capitol, i.e. the super evil government. To remind the districts that the Capitol has all of the power, the annual Hunger Games takes two kids/teens known as tributes (one girl and one boy, chosen by lottery) from each district and places them in a vast outdoor wilderness arena where they must fight to the death until only one remains. Obvs THAT IS CRAZYTOWN. The novel focuses on Katniss (I know, I know, the names are terrible in this book, you just have to let it go), a 16-year-old who takes the place of her younger sister and fights in the Hunger Games as a tribute from District 12, which is basically like the most impoverished area of the country. As if trying to avoid getting killed by your peers isn’t hard enough, Katniss must also deal with her growing awareness of the Capitol’s cruelty AND the fact that the other tribute from District 12, Peeta, is totally IN LOVE WITH HER. WHAT WHAT!

Yeah, as you can see, this is a recipe straight out of the COOKBOOK OF AWESOME.

BFF Charm: YAY!

Yay BFF Charm

So, Katniss Everdeen (Seriously. I know. I KNOW. Just think of her as “Kat” cos it goes down easier) is, without a doubt, the most badass heroine I have EVER seen in a YA novel. The girl can shoot arrows with perfect accuracy, even when she’s like really really pissed off (I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m angry, I can’t even text without spelling errors); she can strap herself into a tree and sleep there without falling out (insanity!); and, most importantly, she doesn’t EVER pee her pants, even when she’s being dropped into an arena full of bloodthirsty savage teenagers. Now, with all of these mad skills, you’d think she’d be really cocky and unapproachable and, ok, downright scary, but get this: she’s not! Sure, she’s a little rough around the edges, but deep down, Katniss has a good, strong heart, and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Plus, I think Katniss could use a BFF like me cos girlfriend is totally oblivious when it comes to boys. There were so many times when I wanted to SMACK HER with my trapper keeper and scream, “HE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU, YOU FREAKING IDIOT!” cos that’s what BFFs do.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT!!!!!! Y’all, I haven’t seen a death match this intense since the Ben vs. Noel days of Felicity and that is saying a LOT (BEN 4-EVS). So, in one corner, we’ve got Gale, the majorly studly hunter loner dude who’s grown up with Katniss and probably has some amazing arms. And then, in the other corner, we’ve got Peeta, the sweet, earnest baker’s son who knows how to frost a mean cake AND saved Katniss and her family from starvation (and got whipped for it, cos his mom BLOWS). You guys HOW CAN KATNISS CHOOSE?!!! And, more importantly, how can I choose?!!!

So, not only do we have a triangle composed of two incredible guys and one hoss of a girl, we’ve also got a life-or-death situation, which, as I first learned from Speed, is like pouring a whole jug of lighter fluid over the early sparks of romance. Y’all things get INTENSE between Peeta and Katniss in the arena, and by the end of the book, my heart pretty much felt like one of the tributes–bruised, battered and completely crazycakes (but, thankfully, still beating).

Talky Talk: No Messing Around

Suzanne Collins is not a sentimental or flowery kind of writer, and her style suits the perspective of Katniss, esp. in the context of such a bleak landscape. The pacing in this book is superb, with just enough pauses in the action to ratchet up the tension to almost UNBEARABLE LEVELS before the Next Bad Thing happens. Each character has a unique voice, and the conversations, even in the most ridiculous, I-can’t-believe-these-freaking-wasps situations, are extremely believable, to the point where I felt completely immersed in the world of the Games (which, as you can imagine, was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING).

Bonus Factor: Battle Royale

So, I don’t know if Collins has ever acknowledged the existence of Battle Royale, but the HG concept is straight out of this insane, ultraviolent cult film (based on the book). I mean, an island full of Japanese schoolkids forced to slay the shizz out of each other by the government?!! That is EFFED UP… and AWESOME. Here’s hoping that more YA authors find inspiration from sources like this instead of trying to copy Twilight over and over again.

Bonus Factor: Dystopia

Scene from Blade Runner with a car flying by a giant digital billboard

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned ridiculously depressing dystopia now and then?! Even though there are no robots in this book (sigh), the dirt poor environment of District 12 gave me an instant reason to root for Katniss before I even really knew her. Plus I love the idea of black markets and bartering cos it kind of reminds me of the time I went to Williamsburg, VA and saw a blacksmith make a nail and then ate rabbit for the first time.

And no dystopia would be complete without humans foolishly thinking they can play god with science! From freaky plastic surgery to the aforementioned wasps (and those jabberjays! WTF!), Collins has created a future that is fascinating to explore (from the cozy comfort of my 21st century apartment, thank you v. much).

Bonus Factor: Project Runway

Admit it, Suzanne Collins. YOU LOVE TIM GUNN. You love the fabulous (and bizarro) clothes and the zany designers, and I can totally picture you sitting at your desk, trying to write HG but wishing you were watching the Project Runway marathon and then all of a sudden you realized YOU COULD DO BOTH. And thus, Cinna was born.

Not only do I really wish I had my own private Cinna (damn you, Katniss, for not even enjoying it!), I just adored the whole fashion aspect of the Capitol, esp. since it was a nice respite from, you know, the killing. I could also delve into the commentary on reality television that runs through the book but I’d much rather picture the movie version of those badass flaming outfits.

Relationship Status: ETERNAL LOVE x INFINITY

What more is there to say? No, really, like this is the longest FYA entry ever, so I’m pretty sure there is literally nothing more I can write except that I love this book so much, I want to be buried with it so we can truly spend eternity together, just like how the pharaohs got entombed with food and clay figures of gods and stuff. I had a life threatening case of TEABS when I finished HG, causing me to exhibit strange behavior like constantly refreshing the Amazon page of Catching Fire to see if the release date suddenly got closer. And now that the sequel is finally here, I’ve discovered that my TEABS? Yeah, it’s terminal. So if I go missing, please tell the cops to search any and all nearby forests for a girl wearing a shirt with “PEETA WILL SAVE ME” written in puff paint and clutching a bag filled with two tattered books, a box of Thin Mints (my go-to survival snack since kindergarten) and a can of bug spray (seriously, you gotta watch out for those wasps).

FTC Full Disclosure: I bought my copy of the book with my own damn money, and I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.