#231 & 232 ~ The Hunger Games & Catching Fire

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Published by: Scholastic Press

Published on: September 14, 2008

Page Count: 384

Genre: Young Adult / Dystopia

Format: Audiobook from Audible.com.

Availability: hardcover, paperback, eBook, and audiobook

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Published by: Scholastic Press

Published on: September 1, 2009

Page Count: 400

Genre: Young Adult / Dystopia

Format: hardcover bought @ Target.

Availability: hardcover and audiobook

My Summary

Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Game Series tells the story of an America that has fallen apart.  What once was the United States is now called Panem, a set of 13 districts held in a choke hold by the iron grip of the Capitol.  The Capitol fears the rebellion of its districts so much that it requires the blood sacrifice of both a young boy and a young girl from each district each year.  Although the children leave their districts alive, this is a blood sacrifice because they are forced to fight to the death in the Capitol’s Hunger Games.  What is life or death to the people from the districts is a sporting event/red carpet-like parade for those living in the Capitol.  This series begins with the Reaping, where the Tributes are announced.  Katniss Everdeen, a scrappy young girl from District 12, is forced to volunteer to be the district’s female Tribute.  District 12 is one of the poorest, hungriest districts in Panem.  Does she even stand a chance at survival?

My Review

I could not possibly write a separate review for each of these books.  I read them in quick succession, so one experience bled into the next.  So, the following are my thoughts on both books with minimal spoilers for those who haven’t read either book:

  • I listened to The Hunger Games on audio.  When I finished it, I had to know what happened next.  When I realized I didn’t have another Audible credit until the end of January, I knew I couldn’t wait that long.  I checked my local library, but all copies of Catching Fire were loaned out.  I simply couldn’t wait even long enough to sit on a waiting list.  I bought my copy of Catching Fire less than 12 hours after finishing The Hunger Games.  I finished Catching Fire within 24 hours.
  • I listened to the novel in audio and Carolyn Mccormick’s voice just a wee bit irritating, mostly because she sounds much older than Katniss.  Since the story is told from Katniss’ point of view, that was a disconnect for me.  As a result, The Hunger Games started off slow for me.  It most certainly picked up once Katniss and Peeta arrived in the Capitol, though.
  • I found the terminology of the Games a little off-putting, which contributed to the slow beginning for The Hunger Games.   The Reaping, really?  Tracker Jackers, WTH*?  I kept thinking, “Who named these things?”  It all started to make more sense – or at least I became acclimated to it – once the Capitol came into focus, because that entire place is so very stylized.  Although I was never completely comfortable with it, I didn’t think about it twice during Catching Fire.
  • I don’t typically read science fiction (this may have something to do with my point above about the terminology), but I loved and adored these books.
  • These books may be published by Scholastic for a young adult audience, but I did not feel like I was intruding in YA land for one second.  There was nothing about these books that made them YA  except that the main characters were teenagers.  Also true there was no sex or language, but I didn’t miss them.  I had no trouble connecting with Katniss because I’m (a little) more than twice her age.
  • What I loved the most about these books was how realistic Katniss’ struggles were for a young woman her age forced first  into taking care of her mother and younger sister by circumstance and second into fighting to the death with other teenagers in order to appease a government that will never be satisfied.  Her paranoia, anger, fear and hope were all very true.  When Suzanne Collins coupled that post-apocalyptic nightmare with with the confusion, insecurity, and unpredictable emotions typical of adolescence, she hit the mark.
  • Of the two novels, Catching Fire was my favorite.  If the third novel in this series, which isn’t published until August 24, 2010, is any better than Catching Fire, I will cry when it’s over. Guaranteed.
  • I am most firmly on Team Peeta.

* Keeping my acronyms cleaner for the Young  Adult audience, but y’all know what I really meant. LOL!

My Final Thoughts

Read these books!   There’s something here for everyone.

About the Author

Suzanne Collins has worked as a writer for many Young Adult and children’s television programming such as Clarissa Explains it All, Little Bear, Oswald, and Clifford’s Puppy Days.  It was children’s author James Proimos who encouraged her to become a novelist.  The Hunger Games is not Collins’ first series.  Previously, she wrote a five-part series called The Underland Chronicles.  Collins currently lives in Connecticut with her family.

Scholastic’s website has some fun resources on Collins’ About the Author page.  There is a link to an interview as well as her answers to a couple of reader’s burning questions.  Scholastic’s website also has a countdown clock to the release of the third book for those who love the pain of being reminded of how far away August really is.

Other Voices

There is no way I could do any justice to listing all of the great reviews out there for these books.  If you’d like to explore the opinions of other bloggers out there, check out the Book Blogs Search Engine created and maintained by Fyrefly.  It’s a wonderful resource.

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  • At 2010.02.02 08:41, Sandy said:

    Funny about that narrator. She has the most monotonous voice, totally not what you would expect at all. But it grew on me. This series was a huge hit with my kids as well. I find it so rewarding when I can share the experience with them, and discuss the book. My own private book club!

    • At 2010.02.02 08:46, Lenore said:

      Team Peeta!! You should get the button for your sidebar – LOL.

      • At 2010.02.02 09:54, rhapsodyinbooks said:

        What a great idea to review the books together, because they really should be!

        Yours truly,
        Team Gale

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        • At 2010.02.02 10:07, Fyrefly said:

          One of the great things about this series that I don’t think people recognize often enough is how good they are at getting people to read outside their comfort zone. Even people who don’t normally read sci-fi, don’t normally read YA, whatever, seem like they still love this series, and anything that breaks down genre walls is a plus in my book.

          (Also, for the record, I’m Team Peeta-Could-Totally-Do-Better. 🙂

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          • At 2010.02.02 11:01, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

            I really enjoyed both of these books and am really looking forward to reading the third book in the series.

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            • At 2010.02.02 13:58, Ti said:

              I haven’t read Catching Fire yet so I skimmed this review and will come back to it in a month or two. I almost picked up book #2 at the bookstore last week but held off. Now I wish I had picked it up.

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              • At 2010.02.02 15:22, michelle said:

                Oh, I loved these books so much! Glad you enjoyed them as well. I was looking up information on Paula Morris’ book, Ruined-and zip, your blog came up! Thank you.

                • At 2010.02.02 15:33, Florinda said:

                  I read both of these back-to-back too, and totally recommend it – it’s such a great ride! It’s always nice to find that all the great things you’ve been hearing about a book are true.

                  Like you, I think I prefer the second book just a bit, and can’t wait for the third!

                  • At 2010.02.02 18:23, Kathy R (Bermudaonion) said:

                    I feel like I’ll be the last person in the world to read these books – even Carl’s read them! I’m a little nervous about them after Battle Royale.

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                    • At 2010.02.02 23:26, The1stdaughter said:

                      Yay! Team Peeta! Yes! I’m so glad you were able to read these back to back. They truly are amazing books and there’s no way to do them justice, but your review was excellent. Can’t wait for the last one!

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                      • At 2010.02.03 09:18, LondonIsCalling said:

                        Team Peeta! Thank you!

                        This is one of my favorite series of all time. I love almost anything that takes me to another world, anything that gets me angry or happy or upset or emotional in any way.

                        I’m trying to convince my local bookstore to do a midnight party for The Victors. I said I would organize it myself if I had to.

                        • At 2010.02.03 10:59, Melissa said:

                          Great review! I loved these books too and I can’t wait for the third. They reminded me a bit of the Ender series by Card, but even more accessible.

                          • At 2010.02.03 12:29, Isalys said:

                            These are fantastic book and I LOVED them! There really is a little bit of everything for everyone. I can’t wait for the 3rd installment to be releases later this year =)


                            • At 2010.02.03 17:27, S. Krishna said:

                              Glad you enjoyed these so much, especially after all the hype! I’ve already pre-ordered the third book 🙂

                              • At 2010.02.03 19:09, Alyce said:

                                I seriously can’t wait until the next book comes out! 🙂

                                • At 2010.02.04 00:32, Ashley said:

                                  These were two of my favorite books from last year. I’m beginning to feel like August will never arrive! It’s nice, though, to have a big book release to look forward to. Team Peeta!

                                  • At 2010.02.04 14:43, Bonnie said:

                                    I just read The Hunger Games and loved it. This is not my usual genre so was thrilled to like it so much. I can’t wait to read Catching Fire especially hearing that this book was your favorite of the two.

                                    • At 2010.02.04 16:37, Kailana said:

                                      I like how you reviewed these. I didn’t bother because I couldn’t think of anything that hadn’t been said a million times before, but this was a good method. 🙂

                                      • At 2010.02.09 10:24, Juju said:

                                        I love how you end it by saying you are almost firmly Teem Peeta. That’s how I feel.

                                        • At 2011.04.05 23:09, Susan said:

                                          I know you wrote this review a long time ago, but I just got to reading them! I listened to them on audio too and I just had to comment on how much her voice bothered me too! She talks as if every sentence is ending in doom (if that makes sense). It really bothered me and I am glad I’m not the only one. 🙂

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