Writer's Book Club

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

Join the Writer’s Book Club in discussing THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins! No membership or prior involvement required—jump in whenever you want! Discussions are open indefinitely.

To keep from spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it yet, I’ll post the discussion questions in the comments of this post. If you have read the book, click on “Comments” to respond with your thoughts. If you haven’t read it, then what are you waiting for?? Go out and get it!

Remember to be respectful of everyone, and the WBC should run smoothly. Let the discussion begin!

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53 thoughts on “THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

  1. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

    1. THE HUNGER GAMES could be classified generically as science fiction, or more specifically as dystopian fiction. The YA dystopian genre has exploded since the release of this book. Some people consider it too disturbing. What do you think of this genre?

    2. My favorite aspect of this book is the tension—I couldn’t stop turning pages. How does Collins maintain tension throughout the book?

    3. My second favorite aspect: the “love triangle.” So we might as well figure out now—who’s on Team Peeta and who’s on Team Gale?! 😀 More seriously, did you like the way Collins handled the relationships?

    4. Every book has room for improvement, right? If you could, what would you change about THE HUNGER GAMES?

    5. Favorite character and why? Favorite scene and why?

    6. Sure, I love a thrilling romantic adventure. But I also feel a bit guilty for enjoying this book. Watching your children die on national TV—how horrible is that?! Am I as bad as those people in the Capitol? I know it’s just fiction . . . but it’s DYSTOPIAN fiction. What if this is actually the future of our nation? What would we do about it? I’ve never been a fan of reality TV, and now I’m scared to watch it altogether. Not sure what my discussion question is here . . . just had to get this mini-rant off my chest!

      • Apparently EVERYONE here likes to rant! 😀 It’s awesome! I was busy all day, then got on here and saw all this great discussion—WOOT!

        For any non-ranters visiting the site, please feel free to add your two cents as well, LOL.

    • Well first off I just wanna say that I’m pretty young (really early teens) and I thought the book was fantastic. There were of course some parts that to my opinion needed a little work, but overall the book was great. I’m TEAM GALE because I just think him and Katniss make a better match and from what it says in all 3 books it seems he’s pretty handsome. I also think Gale seems a bit tougher than Peeta. My favorite part of the book is in general any part that involves Gale either romantically or in a positive way. This is from the 3rd book, but in the end I was a little angered at the fact that she not only marries Peeta, but has kids with him. I mean I know that Peeta is really nice and all, but she did know Gale first and he was her hunting partner and If she hadn’t been picke for the Hunger Games she would have probably ended up with Gale and I think they sould make alternate books or somethin where instead of picking Peeta she picks Gale and all that romantic stuff happens with Gale. Not including the having to amputate the leg thing and all, but I just had a lot to say so ya GO TEAM GALE!!!!

    • Oh and another thing is the first person thing doesn’t really bother me as long as the main point of the book is ok and entertaining. And to me the book was not disturbing at all I mean I’ve read way more disturbing books than that and really don’t mind it. I actually prefer books with creepyness and disturbingness, I guess that’s just my preference.

      • Hey Waffles, thanks for your comments! I liked hearing your thoughts, especially about the first person POV. Also interesting to consider everyone’s preferences about the disturbing factor!

        I started out on Team Gale, but he disappointed me in the third book. I just don’t think he and Kat were a good match . . . but everyone’s entitled to her own opinion! 😀 Thanks again for weighing in, and I hope you’ll join us for future book club discussions!

  2. Positives:
    Very well written – tight. Not given to long, boring and ultimately meaningless descriptions.
    Page-turner. Fast paced and action packed.
    Love the multiple conflicts – and that the main conflict doesn’t end up being the fighting in the ‘arena’ but rather Katniss’ inner conflict between her emotions for Peeta vs. Gale vs. her desire to never marry and have children, as well as her inner struggle at the beginning of the Games when she wishes that someone else would kill Peeta so she wouldn’t have to vs. her thankfulness that he’s still alive. Katniss’ inner complexity is wonderfully crafted.

    Negatives:
    Disturbing on a level I did not like. Children fighting to the death for the entertainment of the masses? There are some places an author shouldn’t go, and this is one of them.
    I am seriously getting tired of all this first-person perspective. I do not prefer it to begin with, but now it has gotten to the point where when I see it, I have to struggle to give the book a chance, and that’s not fair to the author or the novel itself. Thankfully, in this case, the book was so well-written that I was able to get over my aversion to first person pretty quickly.
    Predictable at times. Prim’s selection in the reaping. Katniss’ fight with Clove that could only end with Thresh saving her, and then letting her go for helping Rue.
    Katniss’ lack of emotional response after her first kills. She basically has no response after dropping the tracker jackets, which then kill a couple of her opponents. The author then tries to make up for this later when Katniss kills the boy from District 1. She almost has an emotional response to this, but come on, it should have been much more powerful. You don’t kill a person, feel a little bit bad about it, then shrug your shoulders because he killed your friend. There’s a lot more emotion involved here. That part of the book left me strangely unfulfilled, and seemed artificial.
    Unresolved conflict at end. This one, to me, is unforgivable, and it seems to be a growing trend in today’s literature. Katniss’ inner conflict of Peeta vs. Gale vs. not getting married isn’t even touched. It is blatantly unresolved at the end of the book. Now that can be a reflection of real life – for there are many times when our own inner conflicts are not resolved – but this is a book read for entertainment. The conflict needed to be resolved. And don’t give me any crap about how she’s gonna resolve it in the next book. That’s just a ploy to get us to buy more books, and I cannot stand it. If you develop a major, major conflict in a book, it should be resolved in that book. Period. Okay, rant is over.

    • Oh yeah, one more comment: It wasn’t very original. It seems the author took “The Running Man” and combined it with “The Lottery.”

    • As far as the story being original, dude . . . there’s nothing new under the sun.
      I actually like the retelling of stories. Many times they’re retold because they’re such successful story archetypes. They are something that the whole human race responds to. Some of my favorite books have been the re-telling of myths, fairy tales, and folk tales.
      I don’t need/want an original story, I just want original voice, characters, and setting. Which I think she pulled off phenomenally.

      AND I’m pretty tired of first person, too. I think she made it work here. But honestly, just yesterday I picked up a book and Hastings that looked interesting, saw that it was first person, and set it down. It’s basically all there is in YA now. And after going to a Writer’s Conference, I understand why. They were harping on us writers to write first-person, because that’s what the public really wants right now. :-0
      Oh well. The only important thing is good writing, no matter what perspective or person it’s from.
      Some recently successful books come to mind that haven’t been in first person: THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY & PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS. Any others?

      • Ellie, remember that conference class we took with Susan May Warren, and she talked about the (seven?) different story archetypes? She said almost every story in the world is a variation of those few types. I like this C.S. Lewis quote: “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” Anyway, I, too, like the re-telling of myths and tales, and THE HUNGER GAMES is inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus.

        I thought Percy Jackson was 1st person? Haven’t read MBS. Harry Potter is a great example of successful 3rd-person perspective. Interesting tidbit about the conference promoting first person. I wonder how they know the public really WANTS 1st person if that’s all there is in YA, LOL. I don’t really have a preference for 1st or 3rd, as long as it’s well-written. I usually write in 1st, but I do have a story idea that I want to try in 3rd.

        Here’s my rant about Collins’ 1st person. The fact that she’s using 1st person PRESENT TENSE is awesome—it should put us directly in the action, as if we’re experiencing the Games with Kat. But I don’t think she works it to the full advantage. I found several scenes—during some tense, life-threatening situation—where Kat sounds too coherent. Who thinks like that in a life or death situation?! Ellie, you caught Kari being too sarcastic in a scary scene. It’s exactly the same thing; if you are using 1st person, you can’t be wordy all the time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice pretty sentences for realism. The way Collins writes this story, I think she easily could’ve switched it to 3rd person and still maintained the current amount of tension. Or she could’ve written 1st person BETTER and thus increased tension. Just my opinion though; it’s obviously easier said than done.

      • Ellie,

        Nice comments. One of my favorite authors once said that all stories have been told. There are no new stories. Just different characters and settings.

        Or he said something like that.

        I also like the retelling of old stories. I was just ranting because I didn’t like the kids killing kids for reality TV thing.

    • I agree with the tight writing and multiple conflicts. Very well done.

      “There are some places an author shouldn’t go . . . ” I think I’ll address this later, after Sav’s comment.

      Re first person: I talk about this a little under Ellie’s comment. Now I’m sure you’re going to hate TRE when you read it, LOL.

      Emotional response: Yes, this bothers me at times, too. It gets even worse in the second book, regarding Gale and Peeta, and I’m thinking, “What? You really don’t know if you love them??” I know she’s been through a LOT, and maybe she’s had to put up shields around her emotions just to survive . . . but the lack of emotion is almost disturbing. We know she definitely loves Prim, but everyone else is sort of muddled. And I wanted to see more reaction after killing people vs. killing animals.

      Unresolved conflict: No way I can talk you out of this one, Pat—I have no expectations here! 😀 But I’m also not going to agree with you. There are story arcs within a book and story arcs within a SERIES. If you know when you write the first book that it will be a series, then you are allowed to leave a few things unresolved until the END of the series! In my opinion, it would’ve been unforgivable if she ended the first book without letting us know that Kat won the Games. The plot is mostly resolved (even though we find in the second book that the plot is just beginning). But characters stay throughout the series; if you resolved all the character development in the first book, what would you do in the remaining books?? The characters would be all “tra la la la, we’re so happy!” That makes for a BORING story! Stand-alone books need to resolve everything. Books in a series play by a whole different set of rules. If you aren’t motivated to buy the remaining books, than the author failed in her objective. No big loss on your part. If you didn’t buy these books, Pat, you would just buy others! LOL.

      • Erin,

        I’m not a big fan of the series thing. I prefer one book telling one story. If more than one has the same characters, that’s okay. But tell a different story. I’m not saying I dislike all series, but the author has to be very, very good for me to like them.

      • As in J.K. Rowling? 😀

        But think of all the series (even TV shows!) that have books (or episodes) telling different stories . . . but the main characters never quite get together. They pine for each other, get close, back off, etc etc, til it’s an emotional roller coaster. Once they’re a couple, you lose so much tension. I like the longing phase. 😀

      • Book 1 only spans a few weeks. How is that forever?! You’d rather they rush into a relationship?? LOL 😀

  3. I’ll reply later Aunt Erin, but I just wanted to let you know that I would. xoxoxoxo

    P.S.: And holy crow, Uncle Pat, you can sure rant. *grin* Did you like anything at all about the actual story? I mean, other than the style and the setup of inner conflict. I’m kind of disappointed – I thought you’d like this one better than you actually did.

    • Okay, Vicki, look forward to your thoughts!! xoxoxoxo

      P.S. Actually, Pat DID like this book. You should see his rants for the books he DOESN’T like. LOL! 😀

    • Vicki,
      There was a lot about this book that I liked – the depth of the characters; the conflicts, both inner an outer; the suspense; and even the basic story line.

      If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t rant at all. I just wouldn’t make a comment.

      But you’re right, I am pretty good at ranting. Much better at that than pointing out the good points. One of my many, many weaknesses.

      • My bad. 🙂 I often jump to conclusions, and this was one. Sorry! LOL. Plus, now that we’ve actually gotten to everyone’s discussion, I see that better. *grin*

  4. 1. I don’t think that dystopian novels are too disturbing, in fact, I love the re-imagined world it takes place it. It’s an awesome mix of fun gadgets and science, and the Dark Ages. She still uses a bow, but there are muttations and medicine that can heal in minutes. I think it’s an exciting genre of Fantasy!

    2. Collins has crafted amazing “micro tension” (as Donald Maass calls it). You don’t need to know what happens at the end of the book, you NEED to know what happens in the next second!! Who will get picked at the Reaping? What score will she get at Training? When will she get water? Will she fall in love with Peeta? What will happen to Rue? And on and on until you’re at page 250 in a blink of an eye. Micro tension is where her power lies, both with inner conflict and physical conflict.
    Like Pat, I really wish they had dealt with the fact that she KILLED kids. She could have even killed Peeta with the Tracker Jackets. The Capitol was wrong to pit the kids up against each other, but she did nothing to quell her inner killer, either. I’m not upset about it, because I think she wrote at the level she wanted to, but she could have gone deeper, and she didn’t.

    3. I’m definitely on Team Gale!!!! Although I love Peeta as a character, he’s definitely not on Katniss’ level. He’s not as smart or as deep as she is, so she’ll always look down on him. Katniss and Gale are perfect for each other.
    I think Katniss is a totally awesome character, too. She stayed so consistent with her! She has such a rough shell, is strong and fiercely loyal, and yet is completely likable when you see past all that (her relationship with Rue, her care for Peeta, her twirling around in her dress). A character could read a whole series about.

    4. I think the things I would change about The Hunger Games are
    1. dealing emotionally with her killing the other kids.
    2. And the way Cato dies. It was horrible, gruesome, and I thought it was way too much. The book wasn’t too hard or dark for me until that moment. Then I was like, “Oh man, I really wish she hadn’t done that!” It was awful.

    5. I really enjoyed this story. As far as cultures go, it reminds me of the colosseum in Rome.

    • 1. Yes, I love the combo of future and past! The districts were so “old-fashioned” compared to the Capitol. It made for great contrast, and I think Collins really showcased that when Kat left soot-covered District 12 and traveled to the sparkling Capitol.

      2. I completely agree about the micro tension. The overall question is, “Will she win the Games??” Which would be enough to keep me reading. But there are SO many little questions that drive us to read even faster.

      I wish Kat had shown regret for nearly killing Peeta, or even regret for not trusting him from the beginning. Couldn’t she have asked him about his true feelings instead of just guessing?

      3. This is going to sound stupid, but I keep vacillating between Gale and Peeta, LOL. Probably because Kat does. In book 1 I liked Gale better, but I think I liked Peeta better in book 2.

      4. You know the worst part about Cato’s death? It seemed to take Kat ALL NIGHT before she pitied him and put him out of his misery. Apparently she didn’t have a clear view to shoot him earlier (?), but pity doesn’t even cross her mind before that point. Definitely horrible.

      5. Yep, I kept thinking of gladiators.

  5. Another note about her writing.
    It was simple, quick, and completely successful. She used so few descriptive words, and let your imagination do the rest. I loved how she trusted the reader to create what everything looked like. Even in actions scenes, she would describe just enough to let your imagination take over. I thought it was so well written for what she wanted to do.

    • I liked the amount of description—not too much, not too little. Did you know Collins is writing the screenplay for this movie??

    • She’d be a great screen writer! That is going to be one intense movie! There is lots of excitement about the movie already, and Steven King said, “If they don’t make the movie an R, I’m not going to see it because it’s not true to the story.” haha. That’s SO Steven King.
      Most of the time I’m severely disappointed in movies based off of books, but there have been some real delights: Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, A Room With A View, Stardust, & The Lord of the Rings.
      Bad ones include: Bridge to Terebithia & The Chronicles of Narnia.

      • Yeah, that sounds like Stephen King, lol. He’s probably right about it needing to be R-rated . . . but would that be the first time in history that a YA book became a R-movie?

        Anne of Green Gables is one of my fave books AND one of my fave movies. Lord of the Rings is awesome, too.

  6. First off: I’m in a bit of a ranting mood, especially after reading your comment, Uncle Pat. There’s just something satisfying about being contrary, isn’t there? ;D

    1. I love dystopian fiction. I’m not exactly sure why, but I would guess it would be because there’s such a pressing conflict. In HG, if the situation doesn’t get resolved, a ton of people- maybe even war- would die. It’s not like in realistic fiction where the conflict is not having a boy (or something like that).

    2. I don’t know how she does it, but I am definitely in envy. I like how the pace mimicked how being in the arena would be. In the arena, the “contestants” couldn’t put their guard down at all, or else it might be their last moment to live. The pace couldn’t slow down, because that’s not how war is- and the arena was a kind of a fragment of war.

    3. I am Team Peeta. I have a strange suspicion that this is because Peeta is in the book more than Gale. At the beginning, I liked Gale more. But, we got to know Peeta’s personality more than Gale. Gale was only in the beginning, so I don’t think it’s a fair thing to say that I like Peeta more than I like Gale, because I don’t really know his character as well as Peeta’s.

    4. It’s been so long since I read it, I’ll have to try and remember something. What just occurred to me was this: all the contestants from the Capitol are portrayed as snobbish, too self-confident, even arrogant. I don’t think that’s realistic. It’s like saying every American is a pig- consuming too much food, having too much stuff. Having every person from the Capitol be total snots is a little bit unbelievable. But, I see how this could also be taken as how Katniss sees the enemy. When you’re up against someone- namely, the residents of the district that controls the Hunger Games- you don’t consider the fact that they’re actually people and may be as frightened or as wary of killing as you are. I still think those characters could have been given a little more development (but the book probably would have been much longer).

    5. I don’t know if I have a favorite character. I pretty much like all of them. I like Rue and Peeta a tad more than the rest. I vaguely remember Foxface and the Avox girl intriguing me. My absolute favorite moment were when Rue died and Katniss covered her in flowers (I kind of bawled like a baby). The idea of the 4-note tune she and Rue used sticks with me because it seems so childlike, in the midst of all that terror. Even though I don’t know what it sounds like, it reminds me of Rue. I also liked the end fight with the “wolves”.

    6. I did a little reading up on Suzanne’s idea. The overall idea was inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus, where the city of Athens was forced to send young men and women to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur. Sadly, it also came to her when she was watching TV and noticed how reality TV and war footage blurred together in quite a disturbing way. I think it is odd to take pleasure in a book like this. But, I don’t think the subject should be shied away from. There is no boundary to art and even though this really is a terrifying work of art, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. You can never tell what will change because of it. One should not have to abide by invisible forces that stop one from going somewhere. Sometimes you have to go where no one else will. And maybe I’m just being contrary [Uncle Pat] but I don’t like boundaries of where one is believe they “should not go”. And the novel wasn’t written to rejoice in the fact that children were dying or to take entertainment out of it: it was to portray the disgusting, horrible mess in Panem that needs to be solved. If the author simply told us what was happening or what went on, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective in bringing out our anger to the Capitol or the rebellion in us as actually putting the character in the arena and Showing us. [Rant over.]

    • I like your point about portraying everyone in the Capitol as pretty much the same. I think the only person she really developed was Cinna, Kat’s stylist. He sure has a personality and a story!!

    • 1. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to read realistic fiction after reading dystopian—the tension slows down so much. Unless I’m in the mood for something fluffy, LOL.

      2. “Arena is kind of a fragment of war.” I like that.

      3. I love Gale, but it’s hard to choose Gale when we know Peeta so much better. Gale doesn’t get much page space in book 2, either. Which makes it hard to believe that Kat will choose Gale in book 3 . . . though it would serve as a great surprise, and I love to be surprised in books.

      4. After living in District 12 under the Capitol’s thumb her whole life, I think Kat is way too biased to see the Capitol residents in a positive light. However, there were no contestants from the Capitol; you might be thinking of the kids from Districts 1 and 2, who trained for years and considered it an honor to win the Games (like Cato and Clove). Or did I misunderstand you? I do like Cinna’s character though, and he’s from the Capitol.

      5. I love Rue and the scene where Kat covered her in flowers. It’s definitely one of my faves, if not THE favorite.

      6. Sav, I think I have to side with you on this issue (big surprise, right, Pat?? LOL). This isn’t the MOST disturbing book I’ve read, sadly. And not every book SHOULD be disturbing. But once in awhile we have to face the dark side of human nature and wonder how we handle it. God forbid our future society acts like this . . . so maybe we should take steps to make sure it never does. Or maybe we should be prepared and think about how to fix the mess.

      I think it’s interesting to note that the adults are more disturbed than the teenagers. Is it because we’re parents and we imagine our own children in the arena? Or some other reason?

      • I really really like your point about some books NEED to be disturbing. Because being disturbed/uncomfortable brings change in people. I think the best example of it would be The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. He wrote about the meat packing plants in Chicago in 1906. His novel was so graphic and disturbing, portraying both the cows and workers being horribly abused, that President Theodore Roosevelt closed the factories and BEGAN the FDA, so food and workers would be protected better. WOW! Now that’s what i call an important novel! Sinclair had the bravery to write about disgusting and severely uncomfortable things, but it brought salvation to so many people in need. He’s one of my author-heroes.

    • Love your rant. Great comments. I guess I’m coming from the perspective of having two daughters, and imagining them having to go through something like that. Very disturbing.

      Of course, if I’d been the one chosen to go to the arena, I would’ve thought it was cool, in a sick, dark, disgusting sort of way.

  7. Just warnin’ everyone that I haven’t read this book in SO SO SO long, and I read it for a school oral book report, finishing it at 3 a.m. before school the day it was due. *wince* So correct me if I have anything wrong – I’ll try not to bite any heads off. 🙂

    1. Dystopian fiction was something that I didn’t really consider when I began reading the book in 8th grade, Sav and another bookworm friend of ours just recommended it to me and I thought I’d give it a try. But now that I’ve read it (I’ll try remembering what I thought) a couple times, I’m kind of torn. I do actually like this kind of fiction, just because nothing in life is ever perfect, and dreaming of some eutopia on Earth is just dreaming of heaven. I find that most eutopian societies in books are still a hint or more of dystopian societies (such as The Giver). So I like dystopian fiction better in comparison. Sure, it’s disturbing, and we never want Earth to really be like that, but sometimes the very best of books are really hard to read. Someone has to tackle these hard subjects, and it makes us think deeper into things we may not have considered. All in all, Collins does this without being wimpy or overboard – the perfect balance.

    2. Collins amazes me. There’s no way to put it – the way she crafts her stories to build and build and never let us down just makes my mouth drop open. I can’t say that I exactly have the answer to this one, as I haven’t read her in a while, but I can say one thing. I think (though I could very well be wrong) that Collins keeps the action moving based on several things. She obviously planned several disasters to keep the action going, but she didn’t place them one after another so that it was too much. During Katniss’s keeping her guard up, before someone got ambushed or killed, she was always thinking ahead to a way to survive and taking action to ensure this. I would definitely talk to Collins for hours about how she does all this – it’s what kept me up till 3 (well, and it was due that very day…).

    3. It’s so hard to decide whether Peeta or Gale is better for our heroine, especially since both are basically in love with her. But based on how I felt when I read the very last chapter and our HG survivors are torn by what has happened in the arena, I can almost definitely say that I am on Team Peeta. Gale is… well, Gale – she’s known him forever and they both can relate well b/c they’ve , and they love each other. But Peeta and Katniss have been through a lot together to survive the HG, and even though they came out of the Games torn, I can’t honestly think that they can just let that go. It means something that they couldn’t kill each other (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean?), and that they basically risked their lives with the berry stunt just so that they could both survive. I’m definitely on Peeta’s side – he’s always cared for Katniss (well, so has Gabe…), and b/c he thought she wasn’t pretending (which she wasn’t really…) in the arena, I know that he really loves her. Whether Kat and Peeta will get together remains to be seen (she’s a strong-hearted “young woman” (don’t know what to call her), who doesn’t compromise beliefs without a serious reason), and how Gabe will react to them in the arena…

    4. Hmm. I don’t know that I’m so sure about this one. Changes to this book would be really hard to find, for me anyway. I’m sure Collins knows what she’d like to change, if she could, but I think it’s awesome now. A lot of thought was put into this book, not just whipped out onto a page and published just for money. Some writers just want money, and I hate that certain writers are rewarded with such skyrocketing sales for something that any old Joe could write. Collins really put herself out there and obviously has a strong grasp on her characters, the setting, the plot. It’s not perfect, but she strove for perfection and it’s about as close to perfection as writing can get, in my opinion. Ooh, but I just read Sav’s comment (I’m not allowing myself to look until I finish, LOL), and I have to say that I do agree. The people of the Capitol ARE all alike, and that’s a major stereotype, like saying that all Asians are super smart. However, most stereotypes in books are used to make a point – they all eat this crap going on the arena up, most of them, and Collins most likely was making the point that the Capitol is forcing them to participate, and they’re ruthless. Great point, though, Sav.

    5. OH, boy, favorite character. That’s really tough, especially since I haven’t read it in so long, and they’re all such well-developed characters. I love Peeta for his gentleness, but also for his fierce will to live and, eventually, to protect Katniss (I know he never wanted to kill anyone, and I doubt killing Kat was ever an option unless he absolutely HAD TO). I love Katniss for her strength, her drive to survive for her precious sister (I don’t care if Prim getting picked was kind of expected, and Kat’s filling in – the way Collins wrote it WAS unique to any stereotype, and definitely believable), her loyalty to Peeta and her intolerance for compromising her morals. I love Prim for just being the soft little sister no one could hate. I love Gabe, no matter how brusk he can be, for taking care of Katniss when her family struggled. I don’t know if I can pick one. If I had to, though, it would be Rue or Peeta. Rue is… amazing. She’s small, but she’s strong and powerful in her own way. She fights for Kat with a pure loyalty and true spirit as if she really was her sister. And she never gives up because she doesn’t think she’ll survive, she keeps pushing and flitting around quietly and softly like the mockingjay she loves. Favorite scene? Though it’s probably morbid to say this, it’s easy (I bet Sav said this too, though). Rue’s death, though it’s so sad that at 1 or 2 in the morning, with tiredness, I bawled my eyes out with Sav sleeping next to me, trying to stop. The way she and Katniss protect one another reminded me of the way Sav and I act, in certain ways. They would never think of losing the other, though it will happen, and when it does, Katniss’s solute to Rue and defiance of the Capitol because it’s what was right, the solute Rue deserved for her indescribable love, well… There’s no question about it: it was completely and utterly believable in a way that chills me to even think about it.

    6. Okay, I cheated and read Sav’s before, but it’s true, so thanks, Sav. 😀 I sincerely hope that life will not be as bad as forcing kids to kill one another for entertainment on live TV (there are already sick enough people in the world), but we did bring this into the world (war). Sin. I wonder if this will ever be fixed, if people really think war is the solution. Collins has tackled one of the hardest subjects to be explored, I think. War is hard for all of us to think of, our loved ones dying. The arena is a serious remark to the world about how war is. I really believe that Katniss’s inner struggle is probably what many feel when facing war. Reality TV is insane, and TV itself is all chilling crime itself, it seems. There are those that don’t feel any blood on their hands, and there are those that face killing when they can’t bear the thought of hurting anyone. And that’s exactly how it was in the arena. No one can run from the facts of the horrible world we live in, and Collins decides to run bravely forward and seize the truth rather than wimp out and remain ignorant just for her own comfort. No can force us into going somewhere we don’t want to go, but then again, how can we move forward if we don’t take the truth and grow? I sincerely believe that Collins has most likely inspired an understanding and a fierce spirit against war by just writing a story in a way that everyone can get, if they decide to listen. Some may not. But some may choose the path to truth and become better people for it. We see from Katniss’s eyes the terror and horrible feeling of facing war and death and losing one’s family, and that inspires more than some commercial or a newspaper article ever will. Collins, and people like Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, and Lois Lowry, can handle the truth and decided to share it with those who will listen. I commend her for that, and I have insane respect for those authors that can face the fears of the world and come out onto the other side, strong and confident. She sure is a role model for any author, heck, any person in the world trying to face their fears. *applause*

    Alright, I’ve babbled too much, so I’ll go now. *grin*

    • 1. I would consider THE GIVER as dystopian fiction! Usually the scariest worlds are the ones that are supposed to be heavenly, and are in fact quite the opposite. Remember the eerie world in A WRINKLE IN TIME?? Gave me the creeps! “Sometimes the very best of books are really hard to read.” I agree!

      2. Okay, so spacing the action not too much, not too little, felt ideal to you. Good point!

      3. After reading your comment, I just thought of something else: I don’t know if Gale can ever truly relate to how Kat felt during the Games. Peeta is the one who can totally understand how it was in there, so that gives him a big advantage to knowing how Kat works. BTW, I knew you would choose Peeta, you hopeless romantic you. 😀

      Sorry, Vicki, fatigue is making me a little incoherent at this point. But thank you for your detailed comment—I loved reading it! I especially loved this line: “I sincerely believe that Collins has most likely inspired an understanding and a fierce spirit against war by just writing a story in a way that everyone can get, if they decide to listen.”

      I hope you’re right about that! We need those amazing authors that tackle the truth even when it’s hard.

  8. Okay, a couple of more comments from Mr. Negative here. =)

    First, I loved the pacing. Perfect for this book, but I did have one very, very slight problem with it – it didn’t lend itself to the idea that she’d been in the arena for an extended length of time. At one point didn’t Kat say that she’d been there for a couple of weeks? It had only felt like a couple of days to me. Like I said, a minor thing. Didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.

    Second, I am a Peeta guy all the way. Two very strong personalities usually have a difficult time in a romantic relationship. One strong and one a little more dependant works a little better. (When I’m not being contrary, I’m trying to open up a BIG can of worms.) =)

    Erin’s gonna forbid me from this blog before too long, I just know it! =)

    • Mr. Negative (who isn’t really negative . . . most of the time),

      I, too, lost all concept of time (both inside the storyline and in real life!).

      In general, I think I actually agree with you about the two strong personalities! *shocked* However, I don’t think we have enough information to go on concerning the relationships in this book. Peeta shows some fiery moments; Kat has to knock him out with a sleeping drug cause he’s so stubborn! And they certainly don’t always get along prior to the start of the Games. Gale and Kat coexist great in the woods . . . but we don’t have a chance to see them under pressure, the way Peeta and Kat are. Gale’s strong opinions show up more in book 2.

      I won’t forbid you—who else would I argue with?! And who else would teach me how to write a poem?! 😀

      • Oh yeah, book 2. Keep forgetting about that. You’re right, we don’t have enough info based only on book 1. (Sighs!)

        And you can get much better poets to teach you to write poetry. Vicki, for example.

      • Another rant is coming. 🙂 Peeta definitely has the advantage as far as book space, and Gale has the advantage of having known and protected Kat for so long. The great thing, though, is that Kat really can take care of herself, so she does have a sincere choice – neither guy has an advantage in being more effective at helping Kat survive. Gale is an enigma to me, honestly, as we only see him for a little while. Peeta (here comes the hopeless romantic, LOL) isn’t some wimp either. He’s survive the Games, something Gale hasn’t (which isn’t a prize in the least, but still), and even before he and Katniss got into their plan of surviving together, he used his own whits to camouflage himself and to pick up things he needed to live. He certainly is stubborn enough in his morals and wills in life, and he’s not just some wallflower that’s too nice to take being treated like the inferior boy.

    • I think the time thing would have been SUCH an easy thing to fix, though, and her editor should have caught it. I felt like at the end of every day, when she concentrated on the anthem and the faces, another day had ended, when really . . . a week could have gone by (she spent like, two or three weeks in the arena). Collins could have EASILY written in a paragraph or two describing a few days when nothing happened, which would have give us a better span of time and it wouldn’t have been so disorienting when we were told, “oh yeah, and two-three weeks went by” It really has nothing to do with pacing, just a lot to do with editing.

      The part I love about Gale and Kat’s relationship, is that because Gale has such a strong personality, then Kat can really lean on him, believe in him, and honestly respect him 100% (I think a lesser girl could do that for Peeta). I like it that Kat could thoroughly rely on Gale for emotional, physical, mental stimulation. Although Peeta is an extremely sweet and noble guy, he won’t ever be as quick and smart as Kat. And I always have a bit of a problem when the guy is depending on the girl during the whole relationship.

  9. Aww, shucks, Uncle Pat – thanks! 🙂 But you’re doing quite well on your own, and I’m not going to let you NOT agree with me on this one.

    Sidenote: About the time frame. I agree, it doesn’t really matter what we feel about how long she’s been there. For one, though, nothing in the arena would ever slow down, and that makes it move faster than we’d believe if we were actually there. Another thing: There was a lot going on besides the arena. First they traveled, then there were the opening ceremonies, training, then the horrible Games began, which would be longer than we thought, then she and Peeta won, then they had interviews and such, then they traveled home. That’s actually quite a lot for a couple of weeks, so I can see how we didn’t notice how long it had been.

  10. I found these two old reviews for HUNGER GAMES and thought you guys might be interested in them:

    In Stephen King’s review for Entertainment Weekly, he said, “Reading The Hunger Games is as addictive (and as violently simple) as playing one of those shoot-it-if-it-moves videogames in the lobby of the local eightplex; you know it’s not real, but you keep plugging in quarters anyway”, but also noted that, “Balancing off the efficiency are displays of authorial laziness that kids will accept more readily than adults”, and gave the book an overall B grade. In a review for The New York Times, John Green wrote that the novel was “brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced”, and that “the considerable strength of the novel comes in Collins’s convincingly detailed world-building and her memorably complex and fascinating heroine”; he also noted, “Collins sometimes fails to exploit the rich allegorical potential here in favor of crisp plotting, but it’s hard to fault a novel for being too engrossing.”

    Your thoughts on examples of authorial laziness, or ways Collins could have exploited the rich allegorical potential?

    • Oh, Collins had SO many ways to dig into a rich pool of allegorical potential, and since she didn’t, it does come across as lazy. I think we hit on a lot of potential that she missed:
      -digging deeply into Kat’s feelings about Gale and Peeta. Why does she love Gale? Why does she love Peeta? It’s never a stone she turns over.
      -She never deals with the fact that she’s made into a killer by the Capitol.
      -I think she could have used the muttations allegorically, and delved even deeper into why the Capitol put human eyes in dog’s faces.
      -The very end moves too fast. She says, “The Hunger Games are over, but the real danger has begun.” Huh? I didn’t feel that danger. I think that it could have been a powerful act of betrayal and distrust, when the Capitol turns on their own victor. After all she just went through, it brings home the fact that she really is a pawn in their hands. But I don’t think it was really dealt with, Collins might have wanted to get the story over with or something.

      Awesome story, but I’d have to agree with both the critiques.

      • Ellie, you are SCARY. You’re always talking about how I could be an editor, but I think it’s the other way around! This is the woman who’s editing my book, people—am I not the luckiest writer in the world?! 😀

    • Yes, you are very lucky, my dear, to have a great editor like Ellie (awesome explanation!), but we’re all lucky to have someone like you too! 🙂

      Man, I really wish I’d read this recently. *ahem* What exactly does “allegorical” mean? *heh heh* My vocab isn’t so great… I’ll do my best without that, but I’m assuming it means an opportunity to go deeper… or something. Sorry. *flush* As far as laziness, sure there are things that she could’ve done to make the story better – it wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t something to fix. But I think some of the negatives we see could have been done on purpose, no matter how bad or good they were. Shoot me if I’m wrong (probably am), but maybe that’s just the point – Kat doesn’t want to face that she might love Peeta/ Gale, she’s stubborn in that she says she never wants to marry because she never wants to put her kids through the HG. Actions also speak louder than words, most of the time, even in books (that’s kind of an oximoron, but oh, well) Having that kind of blood on her hands has to feel horrible, so maybe she can’t face dealing with that while she’s fighting for her life. It haunts her, as we see later in the series, and we don’t absolutely need words to feel that. And the ending, as far as the quickness of it – I can hardly doubt Collins would drop it just because she was tired. Leaving enough for a good beginning in book 2 and finishing book 1 had to be hard (I can’t even finish 1 book that isn’t a series!), and as we see later in book 2 also, the Capitol has far from forgotten their little stunt with the berries that kept them alive. I’ve decided to give Collins the benefit of the doubt – I am probably biased, though, since I’m in such awe with her writing. All books need work, and in comparison to some of the crap I’ve read in my short life, Collins is extremely noteworthy, despite mistakes.

      Oops, I’ve hogged the floor again, sorry! (Late nights and babbling are my specialty…)

      • Dear, sweet Vicki,

        Allegorical means it contains allegory, and allegory is a story (or poem, picture, etc) that has a hidden meaning—typically a moral or political one. Most novels have one or more messages, or themes, underlying the fictional story. Some messages are more obvious than others. Collins has amazing plot and characters that are loaded with allegorical potential . . . but did she take full advantage of them? For the sake of pacing and tension and tight writing, she didn’t explore them as much as she could have.

        That doesn’t mean the book is bad—quite the contrary! I wouldn’t pick a book for book club that I didn’t love, and I know Pat and Ellie love the book too. Even King and Green had good things to say about the book in addition to the bad. EVERY book in the world gets at least SOME bad reviews. NO book is perfect, because authors aren’t perfect. What is it you say, Pat? A book is never done, just given up on? Something like that. And Ellie said, “The minute you stop making mistakes, it means you’re in heaven.” Critiques can be hard to bear, but they help us become better writers. We can keep learning all our lives as long as someone tells us how to improve. We also learn from studying what we like in a book and what could’ve been improved on. We’re not devaluing the book or the author; we’re just learning from the mistakes of others.

        You could be right about Collins doing those things on purpose—I have no idea. So there will be no shooting around here! 😀 I am lucky to have someone as loyal as you as a fan! You’re on my team if I ever enter a debate, LOL. Thanks for all your novelesque comments; love you lots!! xoxoxo

      • Great comment! I like the way you think and express yourself. I’m actually writing a review for The Hunger Games for CLJ (Christian LIbrary Journal), and it’s the first time I’ve given a book a five out of five. As I read the book, it was flawless. So few books are on that level. Collins is SO impressive, and I had SO much fun reading the book.
        All these little nitpicking comments just help me become a better writer/internal editor.

        Erin-you’re an awesome editor/writer/blog host and this group is so much fun!

        I had a quick, fun question. If you were in The Hunger Games, what strategy would you choose? Hide like Rue? Out fox them like fox-face? Play the sides like Peeta?

        I think I’d want to be a Thresh. Choose a place, make it my own, booby trap it, and make them come into my territory.

      • Ooooh, that’s a great question Ellie. What would I do if I were in the Games?
        I would have wanted to join in on the scrum at the beginning. Since I am a very fast runner, I could’ve gotten to some weapons before almost any one else. But the strategist in me would want me to sit back, wait and observe my opponents to figure out their weaknesses and strengths, and then decide how best to tackle them.
        I guess it all boils down to what my competetion would be like, then devise a strategy around that. But the temptation to down a few at the beginning would definitely be there.

      • The big problem with Thresh’s strategy is that if the Gamekeepers got bored, they would flush you out and force you into a confrontation. Then you’d be in a time and place not of your chosing. Therefore, staying aggressive, and choosing your own times and places to be aggressive with, and who you’re being aggressive against, gives you a certain advantage.

  11. I’m not really naturally aggressive, so I think I’d probably hide like Rue. I’d like to be more quick-witted and be able to trick my opponents, but sadly, that most likely wouldn’t happen. However, as a wise woman once told me, “we never know what we will do in a serious situation until we are placed in it.” Gotta learn the hard way sometimes, but I hope we can learn a little more without having to be faced up against the real thing right away. There really is no ideal person in this situation, only 1 (or 2, with Kat & Peeta) can survive. Katniss also does pretty awesome, though she does get hurt quick often until she finally gets a sponsor/ figures out a plan to help her survive/ gets Rue on her side. She’s an amazing heroine – what woman wouldn’t love a strong, independent woman?

  12. Ellie, how illuminating about it being the first book to get five out of a five from you! Thanks so much!

    AND fascinating question! If I had to be in the Games, I think I’d try to be like Foxface. Even Kat, the eventual winner, was jealous of Foxface and thought, “maybe Foxface is the real opponent here” (p. 283). It was only bad luck (and Peeta’s ignorance) that got her killed in the end.

    I’d be too squeamish to go after someone aggressively. I’d lay low and hope everyone discounted me as nothing to worry about. I try to be a strong, independent woman, LOL, but the Hunger Games may prove otherwise.

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