The Hunger Games, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Exciting, provocative tale of lethal reality show.

Age(i)

2
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5
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8
9
10
11
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Beginning with elements of the Theseus myth, Collins mixes in a large dollop of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, elements of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, reality TV shows Survivor, American Gladiators, and Project Runway, and an extrapolation of contemporary political and social trends. This will be a terrific discussion starter for middle-school literature groups, in which students will quickly make fruitful connections to our own society. Readers also learn a bit about how to survive in the wilderness.

Positive messages

The story and its sequels are rich in provocative political and social commentary, and explore epic themes of morality, loyalty, obedience, oppression, rebellion, redemption, sacrifice, and, of course, survival.

Positive role models

Katniss is a strong and capable warrior girl who bravely takes the place of her younger sister in the deadly competition. Through her journey, readers will explore many big ideas.

Violence

For a story about 24 teens forced to kill each other, the gore level is fairly low -- but there is some. Teens are speared, shot with arrows, stabbed, mauled by wild animals, burned, and have their heads smashed and their necks broken. Injuries are realistic, including burn blistering, blood poisoning, and gangrene. A girl's tongue is cut out.

Sex

Some kissing.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink, and one is a falling-down drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games is a story about a reality show where 24 teens must kill one another until only one survives. They do so with spears, rocks, arrows, knives, fire, and by hand. It's not unduly gory, but there is lots of violence, all of it teen on teen. The Hunger Games was adapted for a 2012 film, and the second book, Catching Fire, was adapted for a 2014 film. The third and final book, Mockingjay, is being adapted into two parts, to be released in 2014 and 2015 repectively. 

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In the future, the U.S. is gone. In its place is Panem, in which the city of Capitol, somewhere in the Rockies, rules over 12 rebellious districts. To maintain an iron grip, the Capitol holds an annual televised reality show, a lethal form of Survivor to which each district must send one boy and one girl. Out of these 24 teens, only one will survive. Katniss, who volunteers to take her sister's place, and Peeta are District 12's competitors, but their competition is complicated by Peeta's announcement that he is in love with Katniss.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Author Suzanne Collins burst onto the scene with her marvelous Gregor the Overlander: Underland Chronicles, Book 1, a different sort of middle-grade fantasy marked by unusually strong characters. Now, for her first young-adult novel, she has mixed together elements both classical and modern to produce a story that, if not entirely new, nevertheless bears her unique imprint. Beginning with elements of the Theseus myth, she mixes in a large dollop of Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, elements of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, current reality shows Survivor, American Gladiators, and Project Runway, and an extrapolation of current political and social trends. But she makes it her own, and the book avoids feeling derivative through her complex and poignant characterizations of both major and secondary characters, and the bewildering interplay of personal feelings and political machinations.

She does all this in the context of an all-out action-thriller told in straight-ahead yet subtle prose with a carefully calibrated level of edgy violence that never goes over the line. A story of teens massacring each other could, in the hands of a different author, have been sensationalistic and even sick but, by keeping the focus relentlessly on the personal, Collins makes it both moving and thought-provoking. This will be a terrific discussion starter for middle-school literature groups, in which students will quickly make fruitful connections to our own society. Gregor the Overlander was brilliant, but could have been a fluke. With this second series, Collins shows that she is a major voice in children's and young adult literature.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of this series. Why has it struck such a chord with readers? Why are you interested in reading it?

  • Parents may want to address the many issues the author raises. How much of a stretch is it for people to see killing as entertainment? Which reality shows remind you of the one in this book?

Book details

Author:Suzanne Collins
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Sports and martial arts, Adventures, Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Misfits and underdogs, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:September 14, 2008
Number of pages:374
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Paperback

This review of The Hunger Games, Book 1 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous March 5, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
I have to say, this was really interesting. I was told to read it for a school assignment. Here is my review on the book. Let's start with the violence. Well, realitivly tame for a book that's based on kids under the age of eighteen fighting to the death. In this book, death is quick and gently described. For instence when Cato kills a boy from breaking his neck all that is said was something like "His musles flaired, his neck turned. It was that quick, the death of the boy from district three" Now lets move on to the langauge, there is one use of hell "Get the h e double hockey stick out of there." Now sex, a female tribute is described as sexy. A lot of kissing, nothing like make-out sessions though. For the crowd two main characters pretend to be in love. While thinking of something to keep the audience happy Katniss thinks that the crowd wouldn't want anything physical. The reason she is thinking this is because if the audience isn't happy, A flood or storm or wild fire will happen. The role models in this book are mainly positive, but there is an alcoholic named haymitch in this book who gets so drunk he throws up on the mayor. This is for comical affect.Over all good book.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byMemereMaria December 30, 2011
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

What are your children reading?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a series of books that are being given almost the same acclamation as the Harry Potter series. The first movie is due out in March. I’ve read that some schools are asininely including them in their curriculum and that some young girls are left with nightmares after having read them. Due to the popularity of these books, I would like to issue a warning to parents. Please read the entire series before allowing your children to read them. I feel the books could be psychologically damaging to young, impressionable minds. Please read them in a critical manner. The following are my own thoughts on the series and then I included another review: I finished reading the series last night as I had received them as a gift. The books were riveting, charged, highly emotional, but having said that… I have real reservations about the series. The series is about the extremely sadistic torture of young teenagers. The further along in the series…the more twisted and perverse the story line becomes. But, because of the way it is all presented, you tend to forget that these are children and not adults who must survive these gruesome, hellish games. The sarcastic glory with which the Hunger Games are treated by those in power adds an utterly depraved dimension to the plot. For those who are unfortunately familiar with the Saw movies, the books are more insidious. Besides the almost continuous and multiple ways the author finds to torture and kill off her characters, the under-age main character must stand naked while a man examines every inch of her in deciding how she is to be dressed, is handed suicide pills, watches a close friend beheaded, sees her sister go up in flames and learns that the former victors were sold as prostitutes. Children are forced to kill each other. This is a series for young pre-teens and young teens? What happened to half-way wholesome books for our young ones? Let’s throw-out the misleading ‘young adult’ label these books are given. Children are not ‘young adults’ until they are 18 years old. They should not be considered adults until they are 21 as it always was, but political reasons forbid this. By the end of the series the main characters are left so completely broken in body, mind and spirit that there is no victorious rejoicing. While the feat of eliminating the Hunger Games forever is accomplished, there is very little else to celebrate. This is entertainment for children? Books which are completely absorbing as are these, leave a deep-seated impression that cannot be easily shaken. There is a subtle subconscious psychological impact. In a way, similar to movies and television, the story is such that it almost desensitizes a person to the subject of the torture of children and I feel that is a very dangerous thing. Only someone who has read the entire series will understand what I am saying, here. I would be very interested in knowing what a panel of psychologists would say about the effects of this series on young minds. Whether intentionally or not, to my mind, the series glorifies the torture of children. The movies will do so at a deeper level. I almost have to wonder why the books were written. Supposedly, it was to show the effects of war on children according to one review. But, in reality, these books aren’t about a realistic war, which is bad enough. In reality, there is no-one, no-one who could survive what the author puts the main character through in the games. The series seems to be the product of a mind who has thought up every way imaginable to torture innocent children and present the torture as a story to the world. These books are not the way we want our children’s imaginations to be stirred. Those who will rush to see the movies, which has a big-star line-up, think about what you will be endorsing. Make no mistake, the entire series is about the unmitigated torture of children in as many imaginable forms possible. If we consider these future Hunger Games movies entertainment, then what is that saying about us? Because of the level of violence, sadism and the torture and sacrifice of children, I don’t plan on seeing the movie. And, let’s hope the crazies out there don’t see them, either. I know that everyone is raving about this series….but when people regard a series of books whose entire content is about the extreme, bloody torture of children in every form imaginable, their having to kill each other or be killed ….these are children’s books? Come on. Shame on Scholastic for publishing them. These have to be the most violent children’s books on the planet. They are sadistic in the extreme.
Adult Written bycaitiemm January 28, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Amazing book series, but shouldn't be taken lightly

First off, I love this series. I think the messages within it are more mature and useful in this day and age (as it, not like Twilight and pointless vampire romances). I believe it's one of the best series I've read (though the last book I was not as happy with, but that's for another time). However, I would strongly suggest you NOT let anyone under 14 read it, though it does depend on the child. While this book in particular might be okay, a child will continue to want to read the series till the end, and I don't believe Mockingjay and the book series all together should be swallowed by a child. What you need to consider is your child's maturity and perception on difficult situations. This book is very political and war centered with a feel of the Holocaust to it. It deals with many rights and wrongs and human nature (how strong it can be, and how horrible). This series should not be taken lightly, and I highly recommend you read it before your children to see if they can handle the undertones of this book, and then use this opportunity to discuss these difficult subjects with them. One of the things you should be careful of is the desensitization this can cause to difficult subjects. As the series goes on and death tolls mount (among other things), the young reader might start getting defensive and numb. If your child is not ready to talk on issues of WWI or WWII, don't give him/her this book yet. Give it time so they can get everything they should out of the book and not be numbed by it. But I will note, that while this book is based on violence, Collins handles it carefully so not to make it too gruesome. The physical violence is not what concerns me for young readers wanting to read this book.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great role models
Parent of a 10 year old Written byCoredestroy October 14, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Hauntingly feasible, irresistible to put down, impossible to forget.

I am currently teaching it to my 7th grade class. We are exploring the social issues of poverty, classism, devaluing human life, and risks of extreme entertainment. Hunger Games has electrified discussions in understanding character motivation, thematic irony, the human condition, and societal injustices. Every kid has had something to say, and often their insight into why people do what they do is captivating. A powerful, edgy novel that motivates non-readers and stimulates the minds of the well read.

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