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The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games #1
Suzanne Collins

genres: adventure, dystopian, science-fiction, young adult

synopsis from Goodreads
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl 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 Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Ermisenda has already reviewed The Hunger Games Trilogy, but with the movie coming out this year, I just had to read the book first and see if it stood up to the hype.  Yes, we’ve decided that occasionally you will get to hear both of our thoughts on a book.  The Hunger Games is our guinea pig.

Before I launch into a review, I have to start with the genres since trying to classify it led to quite the debate on Goodreads (friend me).  The main debate was whether the book falls under fantasy, sci-fi, or neither.  Until the very last (or second to last) chapter, I only had it on my YA, adventure, and dystopian shelves, but with the medical capabilities at the end, I let it squeak onto my sci-fi shelf.  There is no magic in the book, but I can see where some people decided there was.  It comes down to whether you attribute the werewolf like creatures to magic, it’s fantasy.  If you consider them a genetic experiment, it’s sci-fi.  Given that it’s set in the future and there is no other magic in the first book, I decided sci-fi was more appropriate, so I guess it does a little more than squeak by, but just barely.  You don’t have to like sci-fi to enjoy this novel.

You’ll also notice I have not listed romance even though there is romance in the novel.  I’ve learned from some author groups that the romance genre has certain requirements that this book has not fulfilled.

I cried.  I cried ALOT.  There wasn’t a single moment I wasn’t riveted, but half way through the book I wondered how on earth they were going to stretch the story out over three books.  I needn’t have worried; there is plenty of room at least for a sequel.

This book is special.  I don’t read horror and I’m not a fan of fighting and gore, especially over several chapters, but here is a book where the majority of the novel covers 24 tributes trying to kill each other and I didn’t flinch once.  Yes, there was blood and some potentially sickening moments, but you’re so worried about the characters, somehow I made it through without ever really being phased by the violence.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it made for a very good read.  The beginning of the novel had enough humor to keep it relatively light.  The latter half had enough romance in it to keep you going without feeling bogged down by the fighting.  Also, there’s enough active filler where Katniss is just trying to survive that it’s not all blood and gore.

I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like.  This was the first book I’ve read since writing reviews that I was so lost in the story, I forgot to actively review it as I went, make a list of what I liked and what I didn’t.  Yes, it sucked me in that much.  Now I need to go read something happy.  The ending is like the ending to Eolyn (review here); love it or hate it.  I liked it, because there’s still potential that the… “situation” will turn out the way I want it to in the sequel, but that could also come back and bite me in book 2: Catching Fire.

5 out of 5 stars.

-Eliabeth Hawthorne

This book is for you if…
If you liked Brave New Wold or 1984, I think you’ll like The Hunger Games.

This book is not for you if…
If you’re looking for a high-tech Star Wars type novel with space travel, aliens, and high tech weaponry, read my disclaimer about even letting it on my sci-fi shelf before you read it.  The battle scenes and weaponry are primitive: spears, bow and arrow, nets, even if some of the other features like the ability to change the weather and terrain is more high-tech.

For those of you who have read it, did you consider it fantasy, sci-fi or neither?  Please leave a comment explaining why.