Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of The Hunger Games, we are introduced to Katniss Everdeen, a rather feisty and disillusioned sixteen-year-old girl who has lived her entire life in poverty. And, surprisingly, we learn exactly what the Hunger Games are in the very first chapter as shit gets so goddamn real by page twenty. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

Let’s start this off with some predictions, shall we?

Mark’s Totally Accurate ~Predictions~ For The Hunger Games

1)   The Hunger Games are some sort of game and people die, but no one will die until book two.

2)   The main character will get chosen for The Hunger Games.

3)   There will be people.

4)   Look, I don’t know.

Honest admission: I am coming into this series completely blind. I didn’t even read the back of the books when I bought all three. I have avoided absolutely everything about these books because once I heard they existed, it was when people were suggesting them to me. So I purposely avoided learning anything about them because I knew I’d eventually be reviewing them. So….yeah. Predictions are virtually impossible at this point because I don’t have a single frame of reference for any of this.

Let me make another point while I can: since I’m coming into this blind, that means virtually anything you tell me that I have not read yet is a spoiler. Yep. EVERYTHING IS A SPOILER. Please do not talk about ANYTHING that has happened or will happen beyond where I am in these reviews. I WILL NOT HESITATE TO BAN YOU. We will have a spoiler forum up soon, so just be patient.

Anyway, shall we move on to some actual reviewing? Oh god IT’S ALL STARTING AGAIN.

CHAPTER 1

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

And thus begins The Hunger Games and thus begins me starting this review off with a complaint. I swear, I am not going to turn into a hateful bastard and ruin this series, but I have to say this: I really, really hate first person present tense.

That being said, I’m willing to not let this get in my way of reading this book because at this point, I have no idea if this is going to actually play a part in the story. BUT STILL. I HAD TO SAY IT.

Sitting at Prim’s knees, guarding her, is the world’s ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the color of rotten squash. Prim named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower. He hates me. Or at least he distrusts me. Even though it was years ago, I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket when Prim brought him home. Scrawny kitten, belly swollen with worms, crawling with frees. The last thing I needed was another mouth to feed.

THIS SHIT IS DARK, MAN. Ok, I’m joking. I have to take the piss out of this because I still don’t know what I think about all this. I’m beginning to feel ok with the rhythmic diction in Collins’s writing, in terms of how her prose is poetic. Maybe this first person present tense stuff isn’t going to be so bad.

But we’re still on the first page and can already see the direction this main character is headed. Gritty, independent heroine. Do I like this archetype? Why yes I do, readers. Am I going to like this book? Probably.

Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love.

By page two, I can see that Collins’s style for this narration is going to be direct and forceful. I’m ok with it. But I did laugh at this sentence and it’s probably because I have no soul or something.

We’re slowly introduced to the alternate universe (futuristic universe? Whatever you want to call it) through Katniss’s narration. The Everdeens live a life of abject, unchanging poverty. They live in District 12 (the Seam), inhabited mostly by coal miners. Outside of their district is a place called the Meadow. (Capitalization not mine.) The Seam, protected from the dangers of the Meadow and the surrounding forest by an electrified fence, is some sort of colonization. I imagine there are eleven other districts out there, but there’s no information on what or where they are just yet.

Electrified or not, the fence has been successful at keeping the flesh-eaters out of District 12. Inside the woods they roam freely, and there are added concerns like venomous snakes, rabid animals, and no real paths to follow.

Flesh-eaters??? Oh man, if these are like…zombies or irradiated mutants or something worse, I will DEEPLY LOVE THIS BOOK FOR A LONG TIME.

But there’s also food if you know how to find it. My father knew and he taught me some before he was blown to bits in a mine explosion. There was nothing even to bury. I was eleven then. Five years later, I still wake up screaming for him to run.

I don’t recall anyone saying what age demographic this book is aimed at, but I’m probably going to rule out that it’s for children because exploding fathers.

We learn more about the inhabitants of the District, though Collins is slow to reveal much about this place:

Most of the Peacekeepers turn a blind eye to the few of us who hunt because they’re as hungry for fresh meat as anybody is. In fact, they’re among our best customers. But the idea that someone might be arming the Seam would never have been allowed.

So…the Peacekeepers. They’re obviously not the working class, so…law enforcement? I don’t know. But I am seeing the pieces fall together for some interesting social parallels. I’m intrigued.

When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble. So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that no one could ever read my thoughts. Do my work quietly in school. Make only polite small talk in the public market. Discuss little more than trades in the Hob, which is the black market where I make most of my money. Even at home, where I am less pleasant, I avoid discussing tricky topics. Like the reaping, or food shortages, or the Hunger Games. Prim might begin to repeat my words then where would we be?

Ok, thanks for the MASSIVE INFO DUMP IN ONE PARAGRAPH. So this is some fictional country, Panem, run by some sort of people in the Capitol. There’s rudimentary aspects of our society present (school, money, markets, etc). And then right on page six, we already have a reference to the title. And this thing called “the reaping.” I’m reminded of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, which is still one of the best short stories ever written ever, only because this is some strange world with an event forthcoming that sends people into a nervous panic. WHAT IS THIS. I NEED TO KNOW.

Let’s talk about Gale instead, ok? Katniss’s best friend is a young man named Gale and I really hate to think that someone probably wrote fanfiction between the two of them and this is what I’m thinking about right now instead of the book. Anyway, GALE. Gale is a longtime friend of Katniss and gives her comfort, something she doesn’t seem to have in her life; they’re hunting partners. He’s got more of a sense of humor than Katniss and has a fierce loyalty to those he cares about, mainly Katniss and his own large family. It seems like family units are all these people have, though, as made clear by this particularly gutting section:

My father got to know my mother because on his hunts he would sometimes collect medicinal herbs and sell them to her shop to be brewed into remedies. She must have really loved him to leave her home for the Seam. I try to remember that when all I can see is the woman who sat by, blank and unreachable, while her children turned to skin and bones. I try to forgive her for my father’s sake. But to be honest, I’m not the forgiving type.

Jesus. What the fuck is all this about?

But if Katniss feels ill towards her mother for some unspoken sleight against her, her love for her sister, Prim, is unwavering:

The conversation feels all wrong. Leave? How could I leave Prim, who is the only person in the world I’m certain I love?

I’m already seeing some interesting emotional conflicts between Katniss and Gale to come in the future. If anything, Collins is a bit obvious about planting these seeds here: Gale is attractive and confident; he could get any girl he wanted. Yet Katniss isn’t attracted to him; he’s simply a good hunting partner to her.

After the reaping, everyone is supposed to celebrate. And a lot of people do, out of relief that their children have been spared for another year. But at least two families will pull their shutters, lock their doors, and try to figure out how they will survive the painful weeks to come.

WHAT IS THIS. So the reaping is different than the Hunger Games? And what happens if your children are “chosen”?

After a successful hunt, Gale and Katniss head into town to the mayor’s house and some more clues towards future conflicts arise: the clash between the rich and the poor. The mayor’s daughter, Madge, greets them in a stunning dress and when asked why she’s wearing it, she replies that she has to look good in case she is ends up “going to the Capitol.” Gale immediately calls her out, stating that she’s not going to the Capitol at all. And then, finally, we start to learn what the reaping actually is. And it is so fucked up.

The reaping system is unfair, with the poor getting the worst of it. You become eligible for the reaping the day you turn twelve. That year, your name is entered once. At thirteen, twice. And so on and so on until you reach the age of eighteen, the final year of eligibility, when your name goes into the pool seven times. That’s true for every citizen in all twelve districts in the entire country of Panem.

Ok, but why?

But here’s the catch. Say you are poor and starving as we were. You can opt to add your name more times in exchange for tesserae. Each tessera is worth a meager year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. You may do this for each of your family members as well. So at the ago of twelve, I had my name entered four times. Once, because I had to, and three times for tesserae for grain and oil for myself, Prim, and my mother. In fact, every year I have needed to do this. And the entries are cumulative. So now, at the age of sixteen, my name will be in the reaping twenty times. Gale, who is eighteen and has been either helping or single-handedly feeding a family of five for seven years, will have his name in forty-two times.

WHAT THE FUCK. Really??? Now I know why Gale was irritated, but what on earth is the purpose of this? Why punish those in society who are already the most vulnerable?

On other days, deep in the woods, I’ve listened to him rant about how the tesserae are just another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another.

Well, ok, I can accept that. But at this point, I’m wondering what the Capitol used as their explanation for this absurdity when this sort of process was instituted. Is it to kept the lower and middle classes perpetually at war? And what benefit does that provide those at the top? A social misdirection?

(PS: Are these people monitored in the district? I keep seeing references to them not being able to speak in town. Is it because of some sort of surveillance? Just thinking out loud here.)

The terror and paranoia about the reaping is felt in the Everdeen household. There’s another reference to Katniss’s anger at her mother but, again, it is unexplained. It turns out that it is Prim’s first reaping, but being twelve and having an older sister who’s taken the tesserae herself, she has little to be worried about. Still, I can’t help but wonder why all of this is happening.

The ceremony is later that day and I appreciated the dim and tense scene that Collins paints. The teenagers line up and are herded into areas based on age, as the childless citizens take bets on who will be chosen, what age they’ll be, and other odds to make money. I was actually surprised by this line:

Latecomers are directed to the adjacent streets, where they can watch the event on screens as it’s televised live by the state.

I don’t know why I assumed this pseudo-post-apocalyptic world didn’t have technology like this. Maybe whatever happened to this world…televisions survived? I don’t know LOOK I AM BARELY STARTING THIS BOOK.

The ceremony begins as the Mayor, Mayor Undersee, and the Capitol representative, Effie Trinket, take the stage. We’re told that the mayor tells the same story every year and I was surprised to find out the complete story behind the reaping and the Hunger Games in the very first chapter.

He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth defeated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.

I’m already wondering how much of this story is fabricated or how many details are looked over in order for the Capitol to construct this national myth. But there are more important things to think about.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide on girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.

WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK. Are you serious??? This is some Battle Royale shit right here, guys. Really????

Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch—this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen.”

Ok, so perhaps the parallels and metaphors are a bit heavy handed, but their impact is the same. I mean…it’s like all of you who suggested this to me knew I get weak in the knees for stories about systematic oppression, rebellion, and the demonization of poverty. LIKE I AM ALREADY ONE CHAPTER IN AND PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT WHERE THIS IS HEADED.

The odds are pretty grim, though; we learn that one two people from District 12 in the last seventy-four years have ever survived. And it’s pretty obvious Katniss will probably be chosen and probably will win, so make that three. I suppose the journey at this point would be HOW she gets to that point. And if she kills anyone.

It’s time for the drawing. Effie Trinket says as she always does, “Ladies first!” and crosses to the glass ball with the girls’ names. She reaches in, digs her hand deep into the ball, and pulls out a slip of paper. The crowd draws in a collective breath and then you can hear a pin drop, and I’m feeling nauseous and so desperately hoping that it’s not me, that it’s not me, that it’s not me.

Effie Trinket crosses back to the podium, smoothes the slip of paper, and reads out the name in a clear voice. And it’s not me.

It’s Primrose Everdeen.

WHAT THE FUCK. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME.

Oh my god, DID SHIT JUST GET REAL IN THE VERY FIRST CHAPTER? It’s Prim??? Oh my god, COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED.

So where the hell does the story go from here?? OH GOD, MUST READ MORE IMMEDIATELY.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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344 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 1

  1. Dakjak says:

    Battle Royale is the greatest thing ever!!!!!! And it kind of bugged me when this book came out BECAUSE IT SOUNDED EXACTLY LIKE MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Unfortunately, there is no Shuya. Tears.

    • ldwy says:

      I'm reading for the first time, too, and my first thought, upon learning the nature of the hunger games, was that it reminded me of the Greek myth of Theseus. In part of Theseus' story, he saves Athens from a terrible plight. As payment to King Minos (sometimes for a defeat in war, sometimes for killing Minos' son) King Aegeus of Athens sends 7 youths and seven maidens to Minos, every period (usually 7 years, I've also seen 9), and they are never seen again. They must battle for their lives with the Minotaur and lose. Theseus takes the place of one of the young men and is able to defeat the minotaur.
      I had to look up what Battle Royale is, but whoa! It does sound like that. The Hunger Games also seems to allude a bit to Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, at least the games themselves.

    • Sarah says:

      Man, I’d love to see a version of Mitsuko Souma or Kazuo Kiriyama in this. 🙂

  2. maript says:

    I knew you'd love the discussion about oppression and poverty etc Still, you're already not prepared! So exciting!

  3. JessicaR says:

    omigod omigod new book, new review! i am so excited you're reading the hunger games, mark! And thank god i read them around september, otherwise i won't be able to relate (not that i won't read it right after you reviewed it :D)

    i can't wait to see what you think of the themes dealt in this book 🙂 excite excite!

  4. jsh357 says:

    OMG "The Lottery!" That is srsly my favorite short story of all time.

    I have also started reading this series along with you (my wife loved it). So far shit is so cash and anyone who spoils you/me/anyone can go die in a fire.

    By the way I was josephhall on MRHP, not that that matters since this is starting anew.

  5. riddlemesphinx says:

    I can't even

    I don't even know what is this

    wut

    SO INTENSE I LOVE THIS ALREADY

  6. kaybee42 says:

    Yes that was my thoughts too! I was all- well DUH, it's clearly this Katniss chick! and then POW! I don't LOVE the book yet but I definitely think I will like it well enough 🙂

  7. JessicaR says:

    but wait mark, are you not going to do some sort of summary of your HP experience? i kind of feel abandoned for hp if you're not going to 🙁

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Not yet, because I'm going to start my re-read of HP this week! So there will be plenty more Harry Potter to come. 🙂

      • JessicaR says:

        Oh okay! I just thought that if you're still going to do anything HP related it would be before you start the hunger games. Now I can't wait for you doing both 🙂

  8. Flamefire123 says:

    Yeah…I bought this book yesterday to check out the first chapter….I finished it later that night.

    *cough*

    So, yeah, first chapter is great. ^_^

    • hootlord says:

      That was me yesterday as well! FIVE HOURS OF PRODUCTIVITY, LOST TO AN INCREDIBLE BOOK.

      I regret nothing.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I did the same thing when I first got it! I meant to read just a chapter before bed and then suddenly it was 2 AM and I was 2/3 of the way through the book.

    • mani says:

      Yep, I did the exact same thing. I read them all in a weekend. So excited this is happening!

  9. Treasure Cat says:

    Oh Mark you are excellent and I have missed your words of reviewing so very much <3
    Prediction number 3 is my favourite ever. PEOPLE? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? CLEARLY THIS IS ABOUT TALKING ANIMALS VERY MUCH LIKE THE LION KING AND BAMBI!
    Broken out the caps for the first review, now I feel complete.

  10. Emily says:

    Just curious Mark, what is your initial impression of Katniss as our heroine? I'm just wondering about it after your not-so-great feelings about a certain Bella Swan.

    Also, I love how DARK this book is, right off the bat.

    Would you consider knowing the targeted age group to be a spoiler?

  11. lotheterrible says:

    Yay, you're reading the Hunger Games! Definitely following! Though Harry Potter is still better:) But hey, it's Harry Potter.

  12. Silverdoe says:

    I immediately thought of The Lottery when I began this book, too. There is something about the choice of names for the characters that took me immediately to this strange, futuristic world. Collins does suck you in right from the get-go.

  13. affableevil says:

    I forgot how much random Noun capitalization there is in this series. I always enjoyed how suspenseful it is right from the beginning, though.

  14. Jon says:

    I've never read the book before, so whenever she says District 12 all I can think about is District 9.

    Looking forward to the rest of the series

  15. Nomie says:

    I will be totally honest, when I heard that the city was named Panem – as in "panem et circenses," as in "bread and circuses" – I went OH, TO HELL WITH THIS and wrote off the books forever. Because I'm a terrible snob. But I will definitely be reading the reviews to see if my initial impression of it as a pretentious Battle Royale ripoff is wrong.

    • dakjak says:

      something tells me it will be less than pretentious, but still a rip off of the greatest thing to come out of Japan since sushi.

    • BradSmith5 says:

      Ha,ha,ha. That sounds like a fair reason to me!

    • thefolester says:

      You are not wrong

    • lamuerta says:

      Yeah I'm not too keen on reading on either. I read the original Battle Royale novel, and it was beautifully nuanced and horrifying, and not many things are going to live up to that – not even the movie.

    • rowanlee says:

      I pretty much had the same reaction. Perhaps these books will get better, but so far, I am unimpressed, and wishing that Shuya, Kawada, or fuck it, even Mitsuko or Kiriyama would show up.

  16. mugglemomof2 says:

    I knew that you would get sucked in immediately. One of the great things I adored about this book was that Collins DID give so many answers within the first chapter. You didn't have to read and read to see what was happening. Now you can kick back and enjoy the ride since you know what the games are.

    I parallel this book to The Lottery all the time when describing it to others. Actually what I say is it is The Lottery meets The Running Man LOL

  17. crazyravenclaw says:

    I had basically the exact same reactions to this chapter (I read this book about a month ago, but I haven't read the others yet), from UGH FIRST PERSON PRESENT TENSE (which is very hypocritical of me because I just wrote a short story in first person present tense, and I'm abusing parentheses and grammar and everything that I love because I have class really soon and need to comment quickly) to OH LOOK HERE COME THE SHIPPERS to OMG SHIT IS REAL. It took me a really long time to stop laughing at certain sentences, but I eventually got into the story enough that the writing style didn't bother me. (It isn't bad; it's just not really my thing.)

    Okay, anything else I wanted to say veers into possibly spoilery territory, so…*zips lips*

    Oh goodness, this comment is a mess. I'm sorry.

  18. Buckers says:

    I'm so glad you're reading the hunger games, all through mrhp, i was hoping you might chose this as your next 'challenge' 🙂
    And, i'm sure you've heard this before, But Mark.

    You are not prepared.

  19. Meghan says:

    Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad you're reading these books.

  20. Karen says:

    So I WAS going to go make dinner, but luckily I checked Google Reader first. 😀

    Gritty, independent heroine. Do I like this archetype? Why yes I do, readers.
    YOU AND ME BOTH. I love Katniss. And the first person narration doesn't bother me at all in this series because I actually find Katniss to be a really fascinating character and I like looking into her mind. I think the prosetry style helps too because it really feels like Katniss's thoughts, and it's easier to access her emotions that way. In the third person, I think she'd come off as incredibly hard and closed off emotionally.

    I don’t recall anyone saying what age demographic this book is aimed at, but I’m probably going to rule out that it’s for children because exploding fathers.
    haha. Yeah. I think in the US it's marketed as Young Adult and here in the UK it's in the Teen section.

    I’m already wondering how much of this story is fabricated or how many details are looked over in order for the Capitol to construct this national myth.
    I love this. Idk. I'm such a sucker for stories like this where they explore how controlling information and image is so key to maintaining power.

    Oh my god, DID SHIT JUST GET REAL IN THE VERY FIRST CHAPTER? It’s Prim??? Oh my god, COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED.

    So where the hell does the story go from here?? OH GOD, MUST READ MORE IMMEDIATELY
    THIS WAS ME. I was like "lalalala. I will read one chapter to see if I want to read along with Mark". The next thing I knew, two hours had passed and I was 10 chapters in. Whooops.

    P.S. I will be waiting here patiently until someone links me to a spoiler thread.

  21. creativgal13 says:

    you are soo not prepared….but do not fret we are here for you 🙂

  22. monkeybutter says:

    Haha, I'm glad you've seen/read Battle Royale, because someone was bound to mention it. Are you a fan of it? I also agree that first person present tense is annoying. It's a little too easy and a fallback for lazy writers, but I totally forgot about it by the time I got to the end of the chapter. Collins sucks you in so fast!

  23. Arania says:

    First person present is a tool in the writer's craft to imply that you're with the protagonist and unsure what will happen in the future. For example, if Harry Potter were in the first person PAST, he would say things like, "I didn't know whether I would survive" when it's obvious that if he's telling the story in the past, he DID survive, DUH. By having Katniss tell the story in the present tense, we never know future developments before than she does, even by implication.

  24. Arania says:

    OH BY THE WAY — YAY MARK READS A NEW BOOK! YAY WE ARE STARTING! *bounces with excitement!*

  25. Alyssa says:

    I'm so happy you're reviewing HG, I can't wait to relive them as you read. I'm really glad you're so into it, too! I love how Collins pulls you in from the very first chapter. Be prepared for her to leave you hanging for most of the book.

  26. Marie_Goos says:

    Yesssss SO EXCITE!

    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v614/mariegoos/celebrationa.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    I have never read this before and I am reading along with you because I'm that much of a huge dork… Except I accidentally read ahead three chapters *cough* I WAS READING ONLINE AND THERE WERE NO CHAPTER HEADERS DON'T JUDGE ME. Anyway, SO EPIC and confusing, though I at least knew about the Battle Royale element before going in. THIS IS GOING TO BE SO GREAT I CAN FEEL IT AND I ALREADY WANT TO MAKE MANY FANARTSES OF KATNISS.

    • kaybee42 says:

      Yeah I had that problem too and was like "hmmm this is a long chapter, and that place 4 pages back would have been a very good cliffhanger. Let's just go look up how many pages the first chapter is… oh… oops?"

  27. Cara says:

    Soooooooooooo happy you're reading the Hunger Games. So happy to be with you from the beginning this tme. So excited to see what you have to say about the books. I don't want to say anything too much more b/c I don't want to venture into spoiler territory (it is going to be SO hard to keep my mouth shut, please tell me you're doing more than one chapter a day?????) but yeah, THG are amazing.

  28. plaidpants says:

    Also, can I just say how excited I am that you are back to basically daily updates Mark? I've felt like I've been missing out these past couple weeks without a new post everyday to look forward to. So yay! I'm excited 🙂

    • Susan says:

      This. Read all three in about a day and a half. Mark started reading your reviews of HP during OOTP. Am obsessed. You never fail to bring a smile to my face. You make my heart happy!

  29. somerdaye says:

    Gah! I knew you'd love the opression by the Capitol. Okay, well, not LOVE it, but –

    you know what, just keep reading. This is a fantastic book, and I'd say these three books probably have more plot twists than three of the Harry Potter books. (Even the last three!)

    So have fun! 🙂

  30. Kaybee42 says:

    My theory is that district 13 never existed (!) and they are just using it as part of their folklore to force the district into submission.
    And I too was unclear on whether Katniss was a boy or girl and kept looking out for clues cause I didn't want to get stuck on one gender then have to change my mental image later on. But then she was talking about her long plaits and then later on a dress so s'all good 🙂 WAIT are we allowed to discuss theories if we haven't read it before?????
    What if I end up being right (I'm obviously not, but other people might be!) and plant the idea into his or someone else's head who otherwise wouldn't have considered it? Mark, can we talk about theories so long as we are reading at the same pace as you?

  31. Cailtin says:

    I hate first person too!!! high-five!

  32. QueenEnnui says:

    I am going to try to read along chapter by chapter. I didn’t download Hunger Games to my ereader until last night. I did stop after Chapter 1 (yeah me!). My sister says I will not hold out.

  33. petite-dreamer says:

    My life has not been complete without Mark reviews to read…So on we go! EXCITE.

    I read this book last month for a children's literature class (which is the best thing ever), and my professor had it listed under Young Adult, so no, not so much of the "this is a children's book?" that is HP. I haven't gotten around to reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay, so now I am EXTRA MOTIVATED to do so. But I will wait until you do too.

  34. Courtney says:

    I’m a horrible Potter fan and I still haven’t read your MRHP entries! I swear, I’m going to go back and do so! But this? I am SO EFFING excited about this! I LOVE this series more than what’s humanly possible and I can’t wait to read your upcoming blogs!

  35. celestineangel says:

    I’m reading this along with you, so I’m as lost as you are! Also as annoyed by the first person present tense. :/ I don’t so much mind the present tense as I do the first person part, mostly because to me it seems like Katniss is still speaking from a less immediate place than the present, if that makes sense. Maybe that will change in the next chapter what with Prim having been chosen (with ONE entry, are you serious, Collins???), but right now it’s just weird for this kid to be talking about all this in the present tense while I’m finding it difficult to sense any real urgency or anything.

    Also, the Gale thing, wow could it be more obvious that he’s totally in live with her blah blah. Can’t we get some stories without the “one of them has loved the other for years” trope?

    I seem to be complaining a lot. Sorry. Let’s just say I’m not impressed yet.

    Also, please forgive any weird typos I did all of this on my iPhone.

  36. Kaleidoscoptics says:

    Huh. Never read this book, but it sounds interesting. Really heavy on the infodumps, but not too much more heavyhanded than Battle Royale. And I’ve gotta admit I did not expect the chosen kid to be the MC’s sister. That’s an interesting twist.

    Hopefully the thing with Gale won’t be too unbearable. The way you describe the relationship here sounds a bit like it could be a pain to read.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  37. Hanah says:

    Oh I've missed this so much, reading your thoughts and 'WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!' moments whilst I am all 'tee hee I KNOW!' <333

    I sympathise on hating first person present tense, but if you're like me a few chapters in you totally stop noticing, to the point where I was surprised when someone mentioned the books being written that way. (Before I went 'oh yeah…wow, when did I forget that?')

    Shit gets real in these books a whole lot faster than Harry Potter, it's got to be said. Can't wait to see what you make of the rest of the series!

  38. jgrec87 says:

    Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love

    I laughed so hard at this too!

    Welcome back to reviewing Mark, it feels so damn good 😀

  39. kaybee42 says:

    I don't know about adding a picture (<—- obviously!) but in the mean time try using control + f and typing in your name to find them 🙂

  40. WanderingAesthetic says:

    …I followed you from MRHP

    I read this series for the first time a couple of months ago. Because they were shiny and there was a big stack of them in the book store, I had to pick one up and see what it might be about. I read the back and thought: “Cool! Battle Royale in post-apocalyptic America!” Then I read positive reviews on the back from both Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer, and was…. extremely conflicted and slightly weirded out!

    Anyways, I got them a little later on my shiny new nook. I thought they were awesome, but of course I don’t have the longstanding and deep seated emotional bond that I have with Harry Potter. I read them all without a break in between, like they were one big book, which gives you some idea of how much I enjoyed them, though. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Thank you for joining us here!

      I was told to ignore the Meyer recommendation if it made me wish not to read this series. So far, I'm glad I have.

    • IsabelArcher says:

      Yeah, I was very conflicted with the Smeyer review. Sometimes I really wonder if she read it, or if they just gave her a bucket of money and told her to sign at the x.

    • mmcgonagall says:

      Yeah, I was a little worried when I read the SMeyer recommendation. I had to laugh though that her little blurb was something like, "OMG I was so obsessed with this book." and King's was an informative description about WHY he liked the book. Fits perfectly with how I view those two.

  41. banoodles says:

    This may not be the place for this, but I just wanted to let you know: I was a lurker on MRHP. I started following along somewhere in OoTP, but never commented because I didn't have a Buzznet account and didn't want to add yet another account to the growing list that I am already totally incapable of keeping track of. I went back and read all of those reviews from the start, and I also read your Twilight reviews. I had so much fun reading about your journey through the wizarding world and I have an enormous amount of admiration for you. Your unique perspective and insight brought HP alive in a new and exciting way for me. So thank you for that.

    Back to the task at hand:

    I wish I had your willpower. Yesterday, about mid-afternoon, I decided to hunt down The Hunger Games online and check it out. I was only mildly interested in it and had other things to do, so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to read one chapter at a time. I finished the book at two this morning. All I can say at this point is Mark, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED. The only reason it even took me that long is that I was also re-reading COS for the millionth time. My mother still has not read DH and she decided to re-read OoTP and HBP before tackling it. In an effort to make her read faster (I'M SICK OF POLICING MY FANGIRLING IN AN EFFORT NOT TO SPOIL HER) I bet her that I could re-read all seven books before she reads the last three. So… /scampers off to re-read PoA

    Also, that wasn't all that "on task" at all. Oops!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      oh god will this be worse than reading Deathly Hallows day-to-day

      • banoodles says:

        I'M SORRY FOR SCARING YOU MARK I TOTALLY DID NOT MEAN TO INFER ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

        But seriously, no, because by the time you get to DH, you've had so much time with the characters and you have become so incredibly invested in it all that there is just no way the first book in any series can even compare. That's my opinon anyway. When DH came out I was up unitl 6 in the morning, my eyes were so tired they burned, and I had ingested so much caffine that I was shaking. I couldn't even hold the book up.

        …Aaaaaaand that makes me sound crazy. ^^;;;;

    • Sarah B. says:

      I read the ENTIRE SERIES in one day. I do not recommend this.

  42. tethysdust says:

    The one thing that annoyed me in the first chapter was that the characterization was very typical of young adult fiction. Adults are incompetent or just plain weak, but the teenagers are superheroes! Other than that, it seems like an interesting setup for a story. I look forward to reading along with everyone.

    • plaidpants says:

      Yea, I see what you're saying. It seemed to be one of the cliches where because one parent has died, the other just kind of wastes away. But I guess since this is a "children's book," it might be necessary to explain just why its the kids who are taking charge. I'll wait and see I guess.

      • JapaneseAlps says:

        It all seems to me to point to the kind of impoverished society where teenagers are in the prime of their life and it’s all downhill from there. All that coal mining can’t help.

        [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

        • tethysdust says:

          Yeah, I guess that's true. It's just that you see this in almost every young adult book, so it feels a little tired. Also, her mother isn't incompetent because she's past her prime of life. It sounded like she just didn't have the mental strength to keep going. Basically, she's just not tough, physically or mentally, like Katniss. I'm predicting that this is going to be true of everyone in the story over the age of eighteen.

          However, I definitely don't dislike Katniss as a character, I'm just dwelling on the one thing that has annoyed me the most so far :).

  43. zuzu says:

    urgh i didn't know you were starting today but at least thanksgiving break starts today so i can read along with you this week. anyway yeah, IT'S PRIM and shit just got real

  44. Jasmeen says:

    Hey Mark!
    I'm so glad you're back! I missed reading your reviews. I wasn't a fan of this book, but I'm interested in your views and opinions as the book and series progresses. I will tag along for the ride, and am excited for what you have to say.

    Regarding this chapter, I did like how we kind of got a lot of information from the get go, and I like how it's Prim's name to come out of the hat, since it's kind of blindsiding.

  45. pagefivefivesix says:

    AHMAGAD <3 I lovelovelove this series, and I lovelovelove that you're doing it, because it's just so damn good. Shit gets so real so frequently in this book it's awesome <3

  46. azurefalls says:

    OH SHIT MARK I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU TO READ THE HUNGER GAMES, I CANNOT EVEN
    GAAAAHHHH EPIC SERIES
    EPIC FIRST REVIEW
    SHIT IS SO REAL RIGHT NOW

    Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Collins' style, it's a TINY BIT Meyer-esque for my liking. But nevertheless, epic book, and at least the heroine is bearable.
    Can't really say much else because SPOILERS!

    "I don’t recall anyone saying what age demographic this book is aimed at, but I’m probably going to rule out that it’s for children because *exploding fathers*." – Mark I love you, really. XD

    Do you know how often you're going to be reviewing?
    (Or has he said before and I missed it – does someone else know? I doubt he'll see this amidst the influx of comments he's getting.)

  47. stellaaaaakris says:

    Hi, Mark! Just made my account so I can continue to comment on all your excellent reading adventures (hope I did it right – am hopeless technofail). So much excite for you to read this series. HP is my all time fav series and His Dark Materials follows after (actually was favorite until OotP came out). But HG trilogy is definitely in my top 10. I got this book for Christmas last year, read it through two days later and immediately went to the bookstore to get Catching Fire. These chapters are so short and easy to read, I never really realized I got to the end of the chapter until I was halfway through the next one.

    I too hated the first person present. Probably because the last books I read that did that were the Babysitters Club books, which I read over a decade ago. And they were such kids books that it felt jarring for HG to be written in the same style, especially as this story is so dark already. But I got over it pretty quickly.

    SC isn't as skillful a writer as JKR in my opinion, not as subtle, but she certainly does draw you in. Looking forward to what you think about the series!

    • simply_shipping says:

      BSC was first person past tense, which I still prefer to first person present. And yes I still read my massive BSC collection STOP JUDGING ME. 😛 (They're comfort reading.)

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        Whoops. Well, that completely ruins my point haha. Yes, I agree first person past is better. Were the journal entries in present tense? ::not at all desperate to find a way to not be completely wrong:: Whatever. BSC is very good comfort reading. For me, it's the Anne of Green Gables series. And can I just add how much I love the BSC tv show/hour special thingies? Ok, good.

        • simply_shipping says:

          Oh, Anne of Green Gables. <3 And the journal entries were probably in present tense. Reading them hurt my eyes, so I always skipped them. XD

  48. Wolfmane says:

    This seems so cool so far! I think I'll have to go out and find these books so I can really follow you. It was fine to not read the books while you were doing Twilight, but I feel like there's a lot that I can get out of this too.

    Also, because you didn't want us to talk about ANYTHING:

    an·y·thing
    –pronoun
    1.
    any thing whatever; something, no matter what: Do you have anything for a toothache?
    –noun
    2.
    a thing of any kind.
    –adverb
    3.
    in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all: Does it taste anything like chocolate?
    —Idioms
    4.
    anything but, in no degree or respect; not in the least: The plans were anything but definite.
    5.
    anything goes, any type of conduct, dress, speech, etc., is considered acceptable or valid or is likely to be encountered and tolerated: That resort is a place where anything goes!

  49. Emily says:

    OMG. I've never heard of this book, but it seems so interesting already! I just might have to read it along with you… 😀

  50. Cyna says:

    Yeah, I hate first person present tense as well, and tbh I had a hard time getting into Hunger Games because of that and the sort of to-the-point writing you mentioned. But story-wise, it's pretty win.

    And omg SO BATTLE ROYALE RIGHT? That's why I read this thing in the first place.

    Have fun Mark, shit is ALWAYS real in The Hunger Games.

  51. Revolution64 says:

    I intensely dislike books like this. I really do. It seems to me that the authour is trying so fucking hard to make the characters martyrs. I dunno, I could be wrong about this one, perhaps it'll be good. But from the first paragraph with the shitty sleeping conditions and her trying to drown a cat because she's so responsible and she doesn't need another mouth to feed…I don't know, maybe I'm weird.

    But I really have never read these books. Not a single word. So I have no ability to give spoilers. Last year when I was in seventh grade almost everyone in the entire fucking grade read it. Everyone said it was "SO GOOD!" However, I have a bias. The people who liked it, are also Twilight fans which make me doubt their taste in literature… Also, I really hate when authours make the characters have really weird names to show the time change. Katniss? Really?

    Sorry, I'm such a dick. I feel like I've ruined this for you. LOL.

    • simply_shipping says:

      What I dislike more than names changing as time goes on if the whole Aerith and Bob thing. We've got people with relatively "normal" names like Gale and Primrose (which, okay, isn't exactly dime-a-dozen, but it is the name of a flower and flower names are always going to be popular), and then we have Katniss. It takes a bit of suspension of disbelief if there's no explanation offered in the story.

      • Emerlee says:

        Well, to be fair, Katniss is a plant too – it’s more commonly called arrowhead and it has pretty flowers. It’s not wildly out of character for her father to name her after a common edible plant.

        [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

      • notemily says:

        That sounds exactly like what will happen, though. Some parents prefer "classic" names that have been around for a while, and some parents prefer new names and new styles. Look at any recent list of baby names and you'll see Kayleigh and Nevaeh hanging out with Alice and Olivia. If this were a pure fantasy world, I would object, but since it's our world but in the future, it makes perfect sense to me. It would make LESS sense if they were all "normal" names or all strange-sounding names.

        Scott Westerfeld does something similar in his Uglies series, which is also set in the future of our world. His main characters are named short, simple names that aren't familiar to us, the readers, as names, because it's the future: Tally, Shay, Peris, and Zane. So that's established as the style of names in the main community that we see. But a character from outside the community is named David, because his parents deliberately reject the mainstream society by choosing an "old-fashioned" name. Something that doesn't sound old-fashioned right now, but will in a few hundred years.

    • Kaybee42 says:

      I kind of agree with you about this main character. I feel like I'm being hit over the head with "LOOK AT HOW AWESOME AND BAD ASS AND MATURE THIS CHICK IS!!!!!!!!!!"
      But I'm not really hating on the author for it, for some reason my dislike is being mostly aimed at 'Katniss' so far… I dunno, maybe it will change (to either the author or to disappear completely!)…

  52. CuriousApe says:

    This is me before this review: "Oh, new Mark Reads stuff, yay! I'm just going to read the reviews and enjoy them, even though I don't know the Hunger Games and have never even heard of them, because Mark's reviews are awesome."

    This is me reading this review: "Hm, sounds like a nice book. And it'll be nice to just read the reviews and not the book, I don't even have time for a new obsession. The writing style looks interesting… And I like the parallels to The Lottery. Sort of creepy. Still, no time for a new obsession. There are already 25 books next to my bed. Besides, it does seem like your typical Young Adult 'fierce young girl saves world and falls in love with her best friend in the process' story, so… WAIT A MINUTE. PRIM?!"

    This is me now: "OMG I NEEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW. But hooooooooow all bookstores are closed already I hate living in Germany *sadface* I NEED THIS BOOK"

    *heads off to Amazon*

  53. readmeatune says:

    Oh Mark, I am just so excited for you. I just finished reading this series about a week ago. Sorry, I couldn't wait, the books were just staring my in the face, haunting me everywhere I went. I would just like to say that this whole thing is amazing. I am not one of those people that can easily express myself. Basically I suck at words. So when I read your reviews its amazing. I swear you're in my head sometimes.
    Anyway:
    Whatever you do DON'T read the back covers or the inside flaps of the book. Tape a piece of paper over it if you have to.
    I also am not a fan of 1st person present tense narration and all that stuff. I felt the same way you did about it, but I promise its not that bad. In fact, once I started reading I didn't mind it at all.
    But I just want to say thank you for being so fucking awesome. This is the best thing that I have ever discovered on the whole entire world wide web. I actually have something to look forward to everyday. So thanks! You are AWESOME x infinity!!

  54. simply_shipping says:

    So I totally thought Katniss was a boy when I first started reading, up until the point where she mentioned that Prim was wearing her old dress. Yes, I thought she was a guy even when she was talking about Gale and never crushing on him. I was all, "Oh, hey, do we have a gay protag with an author who realizes that they're not attracted to everyone of the right sex?" And then I found out she was a girl and I was disappoint for all of two seconds, because the world needs awesome heroines.

    And I was totally shocked that Prim was chosen instead of Katniss, though I still bet Gale will be the guy chosen. And I'm kind of hoping/expecting that Katniss will find a way to sort of trade places with Prim somehow.

    But yeah, SHIT IS SO REAL ALREADY.

    Kay, I'm going to go read chapter 2, because holding off on it yesterday seriously took all of my willpower and then some.

  55. monkeybutter says:

    I don't know if you can add a photo if you just registered on this blog. I think you might have to make a wordpress account here https://en.wordpress.com/signup/ and then you'll be able to create a profile and change your user pic.

    • mugglemomof2 says:

      Who knows what I signed up for yesterday but I guess I did it right now. Either way I am here and now can find myself LOL (sort of)

  56. loulobato says:

    Oh, Mark, I'm so excited for you to read The Hunger Games trilogy!

    I've been following your "Mark Reads Harry Potter" for a long time, and it made me not only fall in love with those books all over again (as if I'd ever stopped), and fall in love with you as well – your strongminded, witty and compassionated personality, and how it shines through everything you write and share with us.

    And for you to be reading Hunger Games it's like a dream come true, because those were the first books to have captivated my affection ever since I was 11 and my Dad game me the Philosopher's Stone and the newly printed Chamber of Secrets.

    So thank you for that, and know that Brasil (and France at the same time) is watching and reading Mark =D

    Cheers!

  57. simply_shipping says:

    Oh good, I'm so glad I wasn't the only one that thought Katniss was a boy.

  58. wheenona says:

    I don’t really like first person views but the story is really interesting that I learned to ignored it. 😛

    ANYWAY, I am excited for your upcoming reviews!!!

  59. Lan says:

    so very glad that you're reading this now. i read these books in a week span, it'll be nice to read them again thru you.

  60. Liam says:

    I've never read the Hunger Games either although I've thought about it. Seeing as I don't have the books I'll have to read along with you!

  61. Bella says:

    I quite love books written in first person present tense.

    Ohhhhh. Such a MAVERICK.

  62. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    Every day! At least one chapter a day.

    And yes, it is odd that District 13 isn't mentioned much. HMMMM.

  63. Jason says:

    Here comes the "Shit gets real" and the "You're not prepared" that you got with Harry Potter. 😛

    I think that tells you something about why we suggested this book to you, Mark. 😛

  64. jackiejacks says:

    I have never read these books, but I've wanted to. Now, it looks like I'll be forced to read them. This sounds amazing.

  65. helloimbella says:

    Ehm. I have to say, all these people hating on Gale are making me kind of giddy. Not that I HATE Gale.

    Well. Okay, I do.

  66. Aimee says:

    YESSS I love this series. I'm excited. This is bascially my reaction to this chapter when I first read it back in July. Excellentttt. So glad you're continuing to review.

  67. residentgamer says:

    I read the book last week. I tried to stop myself and read along with you, but I have no self-control apparently. Even though I was pretty shocked at how quickly things pick up, it doesn't feel forced or rushed. I'm glad you're digging the book.

    Btw, I'm snapegirl from CoS forum and MRHP. 🙂

  68. Nibor says:

    Television and cockroaches are the only things that will survive the apocalypse.

    I missed your reviews Mark. I'm not a huge fan of first person present narration either.

  69. Miranda says:

    I've read the first two of the triology.
    The third I've neglected to read. I think I may read it along with you. 🙂

    I have a feeling you're going to enjoy the series. I thought it was pretty well written (and I'm like you–I absolutely DESPISE first person stories…).

    Can't wait for the next chapter!
    –Miranda

  70. Loss Thief says:

    I'm reading along with you mark, so I'm gonna go all "steal your thunder" and post my own opinion, :p So, I'd give this chapter a C+ rating for now. It's interesting, and the First Person Present Tense didn't bother me (I didn't even notice it until about half way through the chapter TBH) but there's something about the narration that just feels, I don't know, unurgent (I know that's not a word but, FUCK GRAMMAR I'M 2PUNX4 YOUR CONFORMIST VOCABULARY). The premise itself just feels too familiar for me to really get into it yet, but I'll wait until we're further in to really judge it.
    Overall, it's decent, but not really enough to get me into it immediately, also I strangely enough saw the twist at the end coming. B)
    Theories/Predictions for the book: Katniss takes Prim's place in the HG through some loophole, Gale becomes the Male choice, Kat reflects on possibly having to kill her friend or die herself, angst/backstory will follow.

  71. wenuwish says:

    Here we are at the beginning of a new book, and it's one I haven't read! I'm going to do my best to read along with you Mark, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. I'm prone to spoiler hunting.

    I didn't see the Prim thing coming, then again I tend to not think things through thoroughly as I read. I was fully expecting it to be the obvious Katniss vs Gale. Surely Katniss will try to protect Prim somehow, by taking her place, or perhaps running away as Gale had suggested? Must.Not.Read.Ahead.

  72. Tasneemo says:

    oh darn 🙁 I want to loan The Hunger Games but it's already on loan from my central library – and won't be returned until the 13th of december! I think there may be a MarkReads follower in my area….
    Utterly Annoyed :/

  73. Ida says:

    I'll join you in the first person tense and ever since I realized my firey hate for this tense EVERY **** BOOK I READ HAS IT (pardon my language). Currently reading John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids because I'm anxious to read more modern classics but omg, first person tense is horrifying. I don't know if it's because I associate it with Twilight but it's a severely complicated narrative format I think for several reasons, not least because it seems like a cop-out for some authors to use more complex language. Because they use a first person narrative they feel this incredible need to use "speak language" while writing. Some of them. Probably mostly directed at Smeyer, but… yeah. with you on the hate.

    I also found the intro to be quite awkward and ridiculous but by the end of the chapter I did end up feeling quite content with Katniss as a female protagonist.

    What I thought was quite interesting is the parallels that this universe has with for example… third world poverty (or class difference if you want to draw the parallel to slightly more "controversial" ground).

    Anyway, I'm a bit sad that I've already read the first two books and I'll wait with the third one until you catch up (all this paranoia about potentially spoiling you is making me a bit scared because i really don't want to do it). I might even buy it in a hardcopy 😛 (read the first two online… I'm a student and that'll be my excuse). Do you have any sort of "schedule" similar to when you read HP?

    (irrelevant note: so getting a wordpress account rn because writing in all my details constantly makes me a bit… lazy :P)

  74. trash_addict says:

    Yay! I was way behind the eight-ball on this one – I'm only halfway through Catching Fire now. The universe this story exists so monumentously….just, fucked up. I hate to say it… you are not prepared.

    Hmmm, admin note, even though I registered for this blog and I'm logged in, it's not letting me comment using that log in, I still have to as a guest?

  75. Susan Walker says:

    Mark, I struggled reading this first chapter because I also don't like first person present tense and was all the more glad I could read it for free online. When I read your review I chuckled when I saw that you also don't care for that style of writing. It's still annoying to me, but I am intrigued enough to keep reading. I'm definitely curious to see where this goes and I know if you can get past the first person present tense then I can too. Just being able to read your reviews and read along with you makes the effort worth it! I guess this doesn't really matter in reading this book, but i don't care for first person present or past tense. I'm not sure why really. I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews while I read along with you!

  76. bibliotrek says:

    I am also reading this blind for the first time, and I was also taken aback by the TV cameras. I mean, it's a post-apocalyptic world in which people are hunting for food and the electric fence is only on for a couple hours a day! I wasn't really expecting live television feeds.

    I'm betting Katniss takes Prim's place. Or maybe "betting" is putting it strongly. I wouldn't be surprised if Katniss took Prim's place.

  77. lunylucy says:

    Yess, it begins! I was actually also surprised by the existence of technology when I first read the book. I think it's because Katniss and most of the people live in such poverty we immediately assume that "nice" things like TVs don't exist. Also it's unclear at first if this is some sort of parallel universe or what, when it's in fact a legit distopian future.

    I don't think it's a spoiler to say that this book is both predictable and chock-full of twists, like the end of this chapter showcases.

    • calimie says:

      "both predictable and chock-full of twists"
      That's a very accurate review; the first two were page-turners for me but I wasn't loving them as much as I expected, it was the third one the one to grab me and leave me without breath.

  78. BradSmith5 says:

    Congratulations on your new site, Mark! No one I know has ever heard of this series, so I picked up a copy of the first book today. Oh man, where to start?

    Like you, I was horrified to see that it was written in first-person; it is a lazy style that even babies in diapers could do. I want to see characters! Interactions! Dialog! And what does this Collins person choose to dazzle me with on the first page?

    "He hates me."

    So the cat hates you. Don't TELL me; show it to me! Make Katniss pass by the cat and have it hiss at her! Have it slink out of the room when she arrives! C'mon! Anything is better than just "He hates me."

    But that's how everything reads in this chapter: a never-ending commentary from the Katniss about how the world works. Sentence and period. Sentence and period.

    "In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale."

    "But here's the catch. Say you were poor and starving as we were."

    What, did all of the colons and semicolons get destroyed along with Sector 13? This stuff isn't poetry––it's a droning, catastrophic ordeal!

    Okay…I'm getting angry but I need to calm down. I see there is a 'dislike' button on these forums so I need to stay objective. Man, thank goodness those weren't there during my comments in the Harry Potter reviews. Anyway, there was ONE long dash used near the end, at least. I mean, dashes make everything amazing, right? And I guess the sister's name being drawn at the end was a surprise.

    Just PLEASE tell me this series isn't seven books long this time…. 😉

    • Loss Thief says:

      BRADSMITH! Long time no see! Surprisingly enough I had a similar reaction to this chapter, though My distaste for it isn't as…impassioned as yours.

      And no, there's only 3 books from what I've seen.

    • plaidpants says:

      Yay Brad! I'm glad to see you reading along 🙂

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Yes. I had to put a '5' at the end, but at least I remembered to capitalize my own last name this time. 😉

    • kaybee42 says:

      Oh my god it's bradsmith! :D:D You've managed to put into words (quite elegantly, if angrily) the issues I was having when I read it too, but was finding it hard to pinpoint. Trying not to let them ruin the STORY of the books though, because so far the premise is interesting and I am intrigued 🙂

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Yay, Kaybee! I do think that the concept has promise as well. I mean, how can you go wrong with an apocalyptic death match? Theory: the psychic powers and giant mechs get introduced in chapter two!

    • IsabelArcher says:

      You know, this didn't bother me as much as it probably should have. I usually intensely dislike it when authors don't "show." *cough* Twilight *cough* But for this book, I really didn't even notice it. Much. Probably because I think that if I were to ever be in a post-apocalyptic distopia I would narrate exactly like that. With my bow and arrows. And my cynicism… Okay, I really just want the bow and arrows. Stop judging me immediately.

    • rowanlee says:

      It's BradSmith! YAY BRADSMITH! Your comments are generally pretty awesome. And once again, you verbalize my thoughts quite succinctly. I'm reading this as blind as you, mate. Hoping this will at least be interesting.

  79. Silverilly says:

    Yeah, I'm definitely on the NOSPOILER bandwagon for this one, Mark, as I HAVE NOT READ THIS EITHER AND JKEWFNJKWFNJKLWGNKEWFMJKGFNGFKNFGJEN!!!!!!
    I totally assumed it would be Catnip, or possibly Madge. But PRIM????
    Not fair and WHAT THIS IS AWESOME.

  80. Sophie says:

    I'm so glad that you're reading The Hunger Games, Mark! I love these books (though not as much as Harry Potter)!

    I love Katniss. I find her such a strong, interesting character. 🙂 I thought she would be chosen at the reaping, but when it ended up being Prim I was like WHOA WHAT THE FUCK. And then I just had to keep reading.

    By the way, my buzznet name was "tirasotherpersonality", but it didn't fit here. I doubt anyone would recognize my buzznet name anyway, since I rarely commented on MRHP, but I decided to write it here just in case someone did. 😛

  81. orangerhymes says:

    Oh this is gonna be awesome. I read this book within one day, I have no idea how you'll be able to last through it with this slow pace.

  82. chapterten says:

    When I started reading this book I immediately thought The Running Man, which is essentially the same thing, except the main character is a middle-aged man. Seriously.

    And just so ya know (yeah, I'm a nerd): it's called a dystopia when the future/alternate world sucks and everyone's depressed about it.

    You're welcome 🙂

  83. AlliAnne says:

    I just reread the first chapter of the book, and I just can't wait for you to keep reading. As other people have said this book hooks you in, I just meant to reread the first chapter and i'm already on the fifth.

    I would definitely classify it as a "teen" book. I feel like it's a fast read, but worth it.

  84. Pan says:

    Oh Mark, I was waiting for you to begin reviewing again SO MUCH!!

    (As I read the book because you announced, that you would eventually review it, I started the book with the same information as you. None.)

    There is one thing I don't understand. Why is everyone so worried about being chosen for the Hunger Games?

    The situation is like this:
    (ALL numbers are in the first chapter, no spoiler, just VERY nerdy maths.)
    Inhabitants of district 12: 8000
    Reaping age: 12 to 18
    Katniss' entries: 20
    Gale's entries: 42
    And the number of entries increases with the age.

    Let's assume the following:
    The gender distribution is 50/50
    There are always 100 persons who are the same age. (100 0y/o,100 1y/o etc.)
    (This assumption is obviously wrong. In a region like district 12, where people constantly starve and no one cares, people don't get that old and you should have more younger persons. But well, it eases the maths.)

    So there are 350 boys and 350 girls age 12 to 18. If NO ONE EVER used even a single tessera, we already have 1400 entries per group. Because of Gale, it's at least 1435 for the boys and at least 1415 because of Katniss. 2,9% for Gale and 1,4% for Katniss. Remember, I assumed ridiculously low numbers for the number of contestants and the number of tesserae taken. And I still end up with these small percentages.

    Katniss is so rational, thinking about chances and odds all the time – but as it turns out, it seems as if she never really calculated them. I know it's nitpicking, but I don't like that. Even more so, because the rest of the setup in this chapter seems very well thought and promising.

  85. Susan Walker says:

    Oh Mark! I forgot to tell you I was Susan_Walker at Buzznet, just in case the lack of an underscore threw you. 😉

  86. Ashley says:

    Yeah, Collins is pretty heavy-handed, but that's pretty standard for YA fiction. You're just spoiled with JK Rowling and her amazing skills of awesomeness.

    Also, yay! I can finally post comments because you're not on Buzznet anymore!

  87. Rodinia says:

    Another "readalong" here! Also, another "go to Twilightland and stay there, first-person narrative" believer.

    So far, I… like Katniss? Kinda? Didn't see the Primrose draw coming, although in retrospect it was totally obvious. Katniss does everything to protect her sister up to and including not letting her sign up for tesserae? Yeah. Wow. And now her mother who Katniss randomly detests for, what, giving up her relatively wealthy life? and her sister who's always been protected will have to look after themselves without any real idea how, because of course Katniss will take Primrose's place somehow in the games. Smart move, there, Katniss.

    Gale is kinda likable, I guess. I'll hold judgment on all these people till I know them a bit better.

    Okay, comments question! It says I'm logged in, but I still have to put my name and email in the boxes? Is that supposed to happen?

  88. Slartibartfast says:

    Wow. Im like you, Mark. Ive never read these books so i have no idea whats up with them. Sounds like some heavy shit. I think ill read some more of your reviews before actually picking the book up.

  89. Pan says:

    The fear of participation in the Hunger Games – even more so as a member of district 12 – is entirely justified and logic. But, sticking to the plane analogy, people are not afraid of boarding but of being at the airport. With hundreds of other people and a ~3% chance of getting a ticket. And after they were forced to watch the passengers to fight for the only parachute, they go back to their cars to drive home – where the odds of dying or getting severely injured are much higher. Like they are for these people, who are constantly sneaking out of there territory to hunt illegally in the forest.

    Again, the fear itself is reasonable. But the amount of it seems ooc for what we see of Katniss in the first chapter.

    • Pan says:

      *their territory.
      gna.

    • simply_shipping says:

      <s>(GDI WordPress, why aren't you letting me know when someone replies to my comment even though I have subscriptions on?) </s> And of course I get the notification e-mail right after I post.

      I see this as them being afraid of boarding. It's not like being at the airport, where you can change your mind even if you get a ticket. If you get a ticket, you're getting on that plane unless you want your entire home blown up.

      And hunting in the forest and stuff really is like a car: that's what they do every day, it's no big deal anymore. Most people (at least in my experience) start out being afraid when they first get behind the wheel of the car. But once you do it every day, it's no big deal anymore. When you only fly once a year, it's a pretty big deal every time.

      Though this might just be something we have to agree to disagree on. 🙂

  90. Megan says:

    Sounds interesting! I was planning on reading a few of your reviews first before I decided if I wanted to read it myself!

  91. Sarah B. says:

    First of all, I'm so excited for you to experience this series. However, reading this first post made me wonder if I'll be able to re-experience it with you. After finishing the series a few months ago, I actually fell into a three week long mini-depression (yes, books do effect me that much), and it was really hard revisiting the series this soon. So even though I was one of the people that recommended it to you, I may decide not to join you this time around. If I don't – well, happy reading!

  92. melwes says:

    What? What? I haven't read this series, either, so I've decided to "read it with you" by getting this book and reading chapter one before reading the review.

    This is some crazyyyy stuff. HurryupsoIcanreadmoar.

  93. Kate says:

    I actually read these last week… in a three day span…. and those were workdays, so I could only read at night. It's fair to say I was pretty engrossed. You're probably not prepared.

  94. thefolester says:

    I will be very, terribly disappointed if you actually enjoy these books.

    I've read them over the weekend.

    They're AWFUL. And I mean they are objectively awful. Really. This is a BAD writer.

    Sadfaces 🙁

    Also, how did anyone NOT see the Prim reveal coming? Have you never READ a book before?

    • AlliAnne says:

      mean much?

      • thefolester says:

        No, just in full possession of my critical faculties. Almost every cliche I can think of is in this book in the FIRST CHAPTER.

        And I stand by what I said about the Prim thing – it's pretty obvious. The thing about these books is that although some of the content (exploding dads, for example) is obviously not aimed at adults, it reads like it was written by someone with roughly the writing age of a five-year old.

        • simply_shipping says:

          I didn't see the Prim reveal, because I was going for the more likely seen-it-a-million times reveal: Katniss is chosen! Aren't we all surprised! And thanks for the insult, I really appreciate it.

          I do agree that the writing isn't terribly sophisticated, but do you have to insult everyone who wasn't expecting something to happen? Really?

          • thefolester says:

            *shrugs* both options seemed equally obvious at the outset, but with her heavily pointing out that OMG PRIM CAN'T BE CHOSEN SHE ONLY HAS ONE ENTRY then I thought it narrowed it down a fair bit. The bad writing makes it pretty obvious, she can't foreshadow to save herself.

            And I don't think anyone should be taking what I said so seriously as to be insulted – unless they're pretty thin-skinned. I'm genuinely surprised at how many people failed to twig though – honestly, I thought it was direly obvious, and just plain bad. I just hate that books this bad are being aimed at young adults when there's actually some decent YA literature out there. Admittedly, it's a very small amount, but it's there. The writing in this is shocking.

        • klmnumbers says:

          I also did not see the Prim reveal coming the first time I read the series, and I consider myself a great connoisseur of Tropes. But "terribly disappointed" if someone enjoys a book series? Seems a bit much.. especially considering these are significantly better than the majority of the Young Adult book section of the store.

          • thefolester says:

            Okay, maybe "terribly" was a bit of an exaggeration. What I really meant to say was that I enjoyed MRHP because of Mark's generally keen grasp on what was so good about those books. I'd be disappointed if he even considered these remotely good because I respect his opinion and these are truly terrible books.

            And I don't consider myself a connoisseur of Tropes – I'll leave that to you – but I've read around a bit. This is in no way original.

        • JapaneseAlps says:

          You might want to give back some of those critical faculties. Your surplus is so heavy, I can’t imagine you getting into anything.

          • thefolester says:

            Okay. Will do. Right away. Whatever you say.

            I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say to me. It's a bad book. People are dumb. Anything else you'd like me to add?

  95. Quirrelmort says:

    Mark! I am so glad you’re back to doing reviews daily. I have missed you! Also I’m really excited for this book. I haven’t read it before but everyone has told me I need to.

    I don’t know how I feel about Katniss. It seems like Collins is trying too hard to make her into this super cool person. Oh well, maybe she’ll grow on me. The other thing that bugged me was the whole Katniss and Gale thing. It was just really obvious.

    I do like that we know what the Hunger games are right away. And I was definitely not expecting Prim to be chosen! Ah! I have never tried to read a book a chapter at a time before. This may be more difficult than I thought.

  96. NAMETAGS says:

    I don't care what sort of description she was given, I read "Effie Trinket" and my brain came up with a Rita Skeeter/Dolores Umbridge hybrid bitch. And because of that I already have INFINITE RAAAAAGE over this woman.

    • kaybee42 says:

      OMG MINE TOO! My reaction is written down as "Effie Trinket sounds like something umbridge would come up with"

      • NAMETAGS says:

        Now I am prepared to want to punt this woman over a live electrical fence and the most she has done is say her little catch phrase and read out Prim's name.

  97. daniellekittens says:

    OMG I LOVE IT!

    and I’m glad you can comment from mobile on this site!

    after finishing my HP reread for the movie this was the first book that actually kept my attention and didn’t make me immediately want to go read more HP and I ended up finishing all three in like a weeks time!

    so I’m reading along chapter by chapter and am super excited!

    reading everyone theories is really interesting also!!

  98. WanderingAesthetic says:

    OH, AND. I like present tense. Seems like I’m about the only one, but I like reading it and writing it, and I think it was really appropriate for the sense of immediacy and BEING THERE in this series.

    Also, a lot of people have mentioned Battle Royale. I really love the movie and the book, but has anyone else read the manga? Because that’s my favorite version.

    • NAMETAGS says:

      At first I was really worried about it, but as I began to read it, I liked it. Suzanne knows how to work it in her favor.

    • dakjack says:

      I've read some of the manga…it got kind of ridiculous the more it went on, but i guess that's pretty much what manga is.
      I love the movie the most, no question. the book went on for far too long

    • rowanlee says:

      FUCK YEAH THE MANGA! You're the only other person I know who likes that version. It's my favorite for so many reasons- the over-the-top violence, the sheer implausibly and ridiculousness of some of the deaths- but I think my real reason is how fleshed out everyone is. I can only think of one student who didn't get some personality to them.

      The movie, I dislike if simply for what happened to Kiriyama. Go back to being a creepy-awesome bastard, damn it.

  99. Riley says:

    I've decided that I'm going to re-read the series with you. I'll try not to spoil you with anything, either.

    The first chapter was a huge info-dump, but while I was a little irritated by it it also made me want to read the next chapter even more, especially with Prim being chosen as the Victor. I was really shocked by this, but I didn't originally think Katniss would be chosen anyways, like something odd was going to happen and well, there you go because it did. Also, the whole Dark Days thing and The Hunger Games is really barbaric and I was skeptical of the Capital because of this.

    The only thing that I'm going to say is that you should know ahead of time that there are a load of twists and turns in this book and series and it's not really for children, at least not in my opinion.

    Anyways, I'm so excited for you to read this series because I just know you are going to have a lot of opinions about it and lots of "What the fuck just happened? WHY?" moments going on.

  100. klmnumbers says:

    I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE READING THIS SERIES. I read the first two and have been too busy with school to read the third, but I have it on my shelf. I think I might read it with you when you get to it!

    I’m probably going to rule out that it’s for children because exploding fathers.
    This line made me laugh, and then I felt bad.

    Oh, and I completely agree with the hatred of first person present. I keep trying to force myself to read A Great and Terrible Beauty (or whatever the name of that book is), but I can't get past the voice.

    • msmoocow says:

      Oh man, give AGATB another chance! I have the exact same issues with first person present, but on the whole I think the Gemma Doyle books are the superior, at least if we're comparing to Hunger Games. Not to say that I didn't like Hunger Games (although frankly they're not as great as I initially thought after reading), but I think Libba Bray's story was more gripping and well-told, with an ending that punched me in the face and left me thinking about it for weeks.

      AGH I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING ELSE COMPARING THE TRILOGIES FOR FEAR OF VAGUE SPOILERS. But I hope you pick AGATB up again soon!

    • rowanlee says:

      Seconding the love for AGATB! I utterly love that series, though partially for nostalgia's sake. They aren't perfect, and I still have issues with the ending, but that and the rest of the trilogy are lovely. If it helps, Bray improves noticably over the course of the books. I think she really hits her stride in "Rebel Angels" (the second book).

    • notemily says:

      Dissenting opinion here–I read all of the AGATB series, and I found it to be decidedly "meh." It was a nice premise, but it never lived up to my expectations. Nothing to do with first person present tense, though.

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