Monday, November 30, 2009

How Hungry Are You? The Hunger Games Await

Remember the Greek myth about the Minotaur that lived in King Minos' labyrinth in Crete. Every nine years, seven boys and seven girls were tossed as sacrifices to the minotaur into the labyrinth to see if they could escape, kill the minotaur or be killed by the minotaur. That was the story that influenced the futuristic idea behind the Hunger Games.

Every year, to punish the starving people of Panem (what use to be the USA) for a rebellion against the Capitol, each district must send one boy and one girl (chosen by lottery of 12 to 18 year olds) to battle in the Hunger Games. Twenty four kids go in and only one can survive. Every year the arena is different because the Gamemakers like to make a good "show". The Hunger Games are televised all over Panem, sometimes the only time when the capitol gave its residents electricity other than to electrify the chain link fences that divide up the 12 districts of Pamen. The Hunger Games have children pitted against children and if the Games get to slow, the Gamemakers cause fires, animals and other additions to the arena to stir things up and all everyone can do is watch their loved ones compete. The single victor and its district are rewarded greatly with food, so winning is more than your survival.

I am currently teaching the Hunger Games in my English class. We are at the point where the game is beginning. My students moan that the book is 27 chapters (375 pages) but the games are pulling them in. This book is fast paced and you want to keep reading to find out what happens to everyone in the Games. This book talks about overcoming hard family issues (Katniss' father was killed in a mine accident and mom became a manic depressant, so Katniss had to find ways to feed her family, as did Gale, her friend, is in the same situation) through illegal hunting and gathering wild edibles both families learn to survive until the Hungar Games take Katniss away. Katniss is a strong female personality with great outdoor survival skills (which is shared to the reader). This book reminded me of the books, My Side of the Mountain and Hatchet.

There is a book called the Maze Runner
that looks like a darker version of the Hunger Games.

I highly recommend this book be available in classrooms, its a great read, great storyline and a very awarded.

Here is a website that shows how much students love this book.

Scholatic website has lots of background info on this book at:

I read and reviewed the second book, Catching Fire, but don't read that post or Catching Fire's book jacket if you want to read the Hunger Games without spoiling the end.

PS this book has killing in it, but it is not graphic with blood and gore. Junior high and up would find this book engaging.
Mary Beth Hutting


Anne said...

Wish I would have been able to read your post before Catching Fire!! I was so confused by that one because I wasn't familiar with the Hunger Games. I am wondering about how the killing is pressented in the story. You say it is not graphic; has this book ever been opposed due to its content? I think killing teenagers is a little harsh...

VCaste said...

One of my friends Sarah recommended this book to me this summer, but I had no idea what it was about. After reading your post I am very intrigued and will definitely take her up on her recommendation! I like that there is also a connection to the Greek myths, which is something most high school study in early English classes.

Heather Hoffman said...

Wow - this book sounds very intriguing! I too like that it has the Greek myth reference - you could pull in a lot of other accessible texts to use in conjunction with it (which is always a good thing). I could see how it might be a bit daunting though -- 300+ pages, even if they are enjoyable and interesting, would probably take up a lot of your curriculum, so if you had other things you were required to teach, it would be difficult to fit it in. I'm definitely intrigued, though! And it was nice to hear a review of a book from someone who is actually teaching it!

Caitlin Strandquist said...

This book sounds awesome! I have heard about this book before - I took a science fiction/fantasy literature course last semester and we discussed it in that course. Also, my entire family has read this book and "just can't wait" until I get a turn. Even though this story sounds a littttttle bit too much like battle royale, I dig the idea of kids duking it out for survival. Not in real life of course, but it makes an interesting plot tool for writing and reading. Also, its really engaging because it allows the reader to think, what would i do!? Would I do better?! Especially in young adults, this is giving a lot of room for imagination expansion...always a good thing!

Hutting said...

This book does have a lot of survival tips through how the characters survive and react to situations in the arena. Today we read the part in the games where Katniss got burned by a fireball. I discussed burn types and treatments as a side lesson in my comprehension questions. Edible plants and hunting with bows and snares are also mentioned and discussed. I was a falconer and hunted with a hawk, so I threw in more knowledge about hunting and how to find prey, read tracks and how to tell if rabbit meat is safe to eat - rabbit fever is mentioned in the book. My students really like the book now that the characters are in the arena - and my students hate reading books. Yes the 300 pages is long, but the arena play moves fast and keeps their interest. I had one kid steal the book so he could read it at home because he liked it so much. When he returned it and we talked about the book (he really did read it - he knew the answers to my questions!) I gave him Catching Fire to read now as long as he doesn't tell the other classmates the Hungar Games secrets and events.

Although the games sound violent, the characters relate how they feel about death and the games, most of the game players hate the games, but they have to go into the arena if chosen. The hatred towards the capitol makes the rebellion in the trilogy believeable, like a mini - communist empire revolt. You have to read the Hunger Games to truly understand the hatred, but honestly book two, Cathching Fire, is the better of the two so far.

Eric said...

Very Nice review, and it is such a an awesome book and so is catching fire. AND what a cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire, after that I don't know how you can't be excited for book three. I know I am


Danielle Bartman said...

I loved The Hunger Games, it is so intense and like you said it is long, but you get so into the book espically during the arena games, the author does such a great job at making you feel as though you are a part of the book, that the pages just fly by. I ahve to agree with you though, that Catching Fire is the better one. I can not wait for the third one to come out!!

Krystal Tanami said...

Hunger Games was just recommended to me and after reading your review I am definitely going to pick it up. Ilove books that bring the old Greek myths to life again. I think this may fast become a favorite.