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.


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.



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. Arthur says:

    I wasn't too keen on the first person present tense at first, either, but it dawned on me as we reached the end of this chapter that it's probably right for the story we're being set up for – the first person puts us in Katniss's head (and, presumably, she's going to go to the Hunger Games somehow?) and the present tense means that we're not going to be sure if she'll die unless it happens. There's no assumption that she's survived and is now telling a story about killing all the other tributes or running away from the District 12, whatever. I think that works.

  2. ThreeBooks says:

    AAAAAAAAAAA, AAAAAAA. Oh God, I am so glad that I heard that you were going to be doing THESE BOOKS because I just got Mockingjay and I'm pretty sure these books are the only ones to ever make me cry, ever. Even if I read them out of order.

    Also, be prepared for shit to get SO REAL, because the point at which I first cried is… um. Next chapter.

  3. Kelseyintherain says:

    As soon as you announced you were going to start reading this series I picked up the trilogy box set immediately. I've already finished all three books, and I'm really excited to read about your own experience with them.

    And yeah, I was also really surprised how much happened within the first chapter. I was not surprised by the cliffhanger ending, but by then I'd learned enough about this world that I already had to keep reading. This is one of those books where you refuse to put it down, and the next thing you know it's 4 in the morning.

  4. skillwithaquill says:

    You've got to hand it to a book that has Shit Get Real right in the first chapter. Exploding fathers, an oppressed underclass, and an upcoming Battle Royal where children are sent to fight to the death. I mean DAMN.

    I'm in the middle of the second book right now and I'm reading like mad so I can join the conversations on the spoiler board. As for the rest of this particular book: Not. Prepared.

  5. Amethyste says:

    Ah I am loving this! I haven't read the series either but I am so getting the books now to read along. Finally I can be in the dark concerning a book series! =)

  6. Jenny_M says:

    Hi Mark,

    Longtime reader, first time commenter. Mostly because the old commenting system was hard on my poor little computer – this one is much more browser friendly!

    I just finished this book about a week ago, and am waiting impatiently for the next two to come around at the library. I have holds on them, but irritatingly the third seems to be coming along faster than the second. Return your books, people, I have reading to do!

    I had read the back of the book blurb, which lead me to believe that Katniss was going to be chosen for the games. However, back of the book blurbs tend not to have crazy plot twists, so when Prim was chosen I had a total moment of, "gasp!"

    Anyway, all that to say, it's great to have you "back". Not that you ever really were gone, because I follow you on Twitter, but…I have missed shit getting real as I sit at my desk at work, bored out of my skull!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Thanks Jenny! I'm glad you are here. 🙂

    • notemily says:

      Haha, I think a lot of people are picking up the series for the first time now that all three are out, so the first and second have more holds than the third in some cases! Kind of like if you put a bunch of discs of a TV show on hold, the second one will come in first, because everyone else is waiting for the first one. (I work in a library.)

  7. laurelizabeth92 says:

    Ok so I'm cheap and didn't want to buy the books but dang it Google Books wouldn't let me see the whole chapter for free. They cut out a few pages! So I guess I have to go to my local library (not likely) or go buy the books (much, much more likely) because this story sounds interesting as heck and I want to read along!

  8. artsyjeans says:

    I'm really interested to see where this goes. I haven't ever read this before and I will do it a chapter at a time, well thats my plan at least.

  9. Mori-tora says:

    This book has been sitting in my room staring at me for a week and a half after I found out this was your next project. I am EXCITE! *Starts reading furiously* ( I am not sure how you read furiously…)

  10. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    YES! Do you know how to use the img src HTML tag?

  11. pennylane27 says:

    I loved this book from the beginning, I got used to the first person present tense quite easily, because of the great story she tells. I was surprised, as for some reason I thought this was aimed at children, and then the 'exploding father' and the poverty and all that just had me going 'OMG children's book?' every 10 seconds.
    Pity though I could not find the books in Uruguay, so I had to do a little piracy to get them, which meant I read the three books during a weekend on my netbook. I just couldn't stop, so I won't post any of the theories I had while reading, because they were pretty accurate 😉 and I don't want to spoil anyone.
    Anyway Mark, thanks so much for doing this, I started reading your MRHP when you were halfway through Deathly Hallows, and I'm addicted to you, in a bit of a stalkerish way. Keep it up!

  12. ReptarLives says:

    I'm deciding to re-read this along with you. I hope this doesn't count as spoilers, but I have a feeling you'll hate parts of it while being totally in love with it. What i loved about this book, there wasn't the whole "look it's a clue" "here's also a clue" thing. It was like "this is the information. prepare to have your mind blown."
    1st chapter initial read reactions:
    This cat is awesome
    Katniss, you use A BOW AND ARROW. please be my certifiable badass girl crush forever
    Gale why so serious? -.-
    oh yeah i kinda love you now.
    Even though you're going after my fictional bff
    Haymitch I think you are awesome for making a mockery of this effed up shiz
    I want to punch Effie
    *heart drops* wait- what?

  13. EldaTaluta says:

    Mark! I don't know if you realize this, but you sir have a TVTropes page. Two of them to be exact.… Twilight Blog… Harry Potter Blog

  14. chvz says:

    Seriously I'm in a land of puppies and unicorns playing altogether in a big fluffy cloud because you just started to read one of the most awesomest (yeah, I said most awesomest, english isn't my first language and I'm allowed to make such mistakes, true story) series I've ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Today I just finished reading your review for HP and I'm glad I did, because it reminded me of how awesome those books are (I read them a couple of years ago and I forgot about a lot of things that happened) so I kinda read them again through your vision.

    A very good friend of mine, she's one of the biggest HP fans out there, and after she was done with those, she read Hunger Games and at one point she said that this was at the same level of awesomeness as HP.

    So there, I will keep reading your blog and hope you love this book as much as a lot of us do…


  15. IsabelArcher says:

    Hmmm, I honestly have no idea whether you'll like these books or not. I enjoyed them, but mostly because I tend to prefer content and theme above writing ability. I mean, these are theoretically Young Adult Books, so I think it's more important to value the lessons/social implications. That's why I disliked Twilight so very, very much. Those books taught sexism, racism, classism, you get my point. I also thought HP was awesome because it confronted themes of bullying ect, not because JK Rowling was such an amazing writer. I think if you focus on the content/theme you'll like them. But maybe not. Honestly, I have no idea. It's really hard to compare these to HP. Actually, as I was reading them, I kept thinking about how they were sooooooooooooo much better than Twilight. I don't know why the comparison kept popping up, but it might have been the first person present tense similarity. Anyway. I'm done now…

  16. simply_shipping says:

    Also, someone needs to make a new page for Mark Reads and Mark Watches. Not me though, I'm lazy.

  17. Moonie says:

    I'mma have to say I have…. issues with this series. I like it… kind of. …not really.. I LIKE PARTS. hahaha.



  18. tgyr says:

    I'm planning to read this along with you once I get my hands on a copy, so this time I get to be on the "Don't spoil me pl0x" side of it. I haven't even held the book, and just based on this review I think I am SO GOING TO LOVE IT.

  19. Kimberley says:

    So this is totally random but my senior song is Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars. When they announced it I scream “Mark was in that music video!” hahah no one understood it besides my favorite teacher who read MRHP and MRT. Anyway everyone (or it felt like everyone) looked at me like “whatthefuck is wrong with you?” ha I thought that I should let you know that now (nearly) every senior at Winter Springs High school knows that Mark was in that music viedo. 😀

  20. phoebe says:

    haha i felt the exact same way when i read the tvs. at first i thought it was before our time, but then they said it came out of north america and i got really connfused. then i thought they had no technology and once again, confused when they said tvs.

  21. megan says:

    Hurrah, my hold came through at the library, so I can read the first chapter and now your review! And now perhaps Chapter Two….

  22. xkcdhobbes says:

    I am so excited, I am going to read along with Mark for the first time a series completely new to me. This will be so awesome! I will start reading tomorrow, because I have to go to sleep now (if I want to be in shape tomorrow for my abusive amount of orals/work to do.) I have a feeling that the experience of sharing a book with someone will be quite interesting, and I really can't wait for some more!

    • BradSmith5 says:

      It is, Hobbes! GET PSYCHED!

      • xkcdhobbes says:

        Good thing I checked to see if I had a reply…I have absolutely no idea how to get a warning that i have a reply! Meh, I'll just continue looking.

        • BradSmith5 says:

          Well, I just clicked on my name so that I go to that "intensedebate" site. Then I hit "My Account" at the top, then "Account" under the "Edit Profile" section on the left side of the window. On the screen that follows I found a little check box that lets you get emails when someone replies to your comments.

          I also heard that you can reply to those emails and it will reply in the blog automatically. I didn't try that out yet, though. I also can't get pictures to work. :S

          • xkcdhobbes says:

            Just did that, thanks a lot 😛 as for images, I'm pretty sure I'll figure it out sooner or later if ever I need it 🙂

  23. Paige says:

    I am really glad you made a reference to the Lottery because that is totally what I thought of when I read The Hunger Games 🙂

  24. momzter says:

    Prim's intro bugged me: Look, sweet, lovely kid loves ugly unwanted cat and so must be an angel! She must remain as unsullied as possible for as long as she can, don't ya know? Whey isn't Katniss teaching her how to hunt?

    I'm thinking that the writing style could help with the world building, especially from the protagonist's perspective. It would be cool if Collins matures the sophistication of the prose as the character changes and develops throughout the books.

    Things do improve for me as the chapter goes on and I do think the premise offers a lot of promise. All of the manipulation surrounding the game is really messed up and I suspect that there's some other *gain* to be had from the Games other than diabolical crowd control

    Can't say whether I would have been surprised about the end of the chapter if I hadn't read the synopsis on the back first. In fact, I think that I've known the basic premise of for a while.

  25. Hedjie says:

    Haven't read this yet myself, but am certainly going to enjoy you doing the legwork for me *wink*. If you like it, it'll be on my "spend the gift card from Mom excursion" list after Giftmas.

  26. chyeaitskim says:

    I really couldn't believe Prim was chosen either, but figures, huh?

    I'm reading along with you, and only reading this because you are 😀 I'm reading online, since I'm not getting my books until Christmas!

  27. DragonTickler says:

    I've said this a lot already but I think it's necessary now, I don't know how you can do this Mark. I finished the book in the day and the other two in the two days after.

    For some reason I didn't really think I would like it since it was in first person and usually authors make girls really weak which annoys me to no end. I was actually suprised that Katniss was so awesome.

  28. EruditeWitch says:

    I am so glad you're reading this. i very literally just finished the third in this series. Yet another journey of Love with you, Mark! This one is much more controversial for me based on the amount of debate among my friends.

    And for me, in this first chapter, I was a little turned off by Katniss. I like my characters with a little more elegance. But that's what this story is meant to be: rough, bitter, and clenching at your heart with every paragraph.

    The world that is painted even from here is incredible though!

  29. SusanBones says:

    I found your Harry Potter blog on the day you viewed the Order of the Phoenix movie. I started reading your HP blog from the beginning and loved the way you dismissed the Sorcerer's Stone until you got to the part where Hagrid tells Harry that he is a wizard. I knew you would be hooked from that point on. I caught up just as you began Half Blood Prince, and followed it daily, even when I was on vacation. I love smart phones.

    Anyway, I didn't know a thing about The Hunger Games, except that a lot of people love them. I decided to read along with you, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop.

    I found it rather odd that a government would choose to hold an annual contest in which children killed each other. One of the strongest human emotions is for parents to protect their children. Look at the Harry Potter books, with Lily sacrificing herself, or Molly fighting Bellatrix. How did this society become so oppressed that the death of children became sport?

  30. insanity-genius says:

    Hey Mark!

    I never actually posted as Buzznet, but I was a huge fan of your Harry Potter blog; it kept reminding me of the magic of reading it all for the first time that I can’t remember feeling (probably because I was eight years old when I started and wasn’t so interested in all of the analysis and deep thinking) and also made me fall in love with it all over again.

    I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I found out you were reading The Hunger Games, because I love them. They aren’t HP, but they’re very good. Collins’ writing is a bit jarring, but the further you get in the less you’ll notice, because the story really fits it later on. At least I think so.

    I’d actually start reading along with you (I want to), but I gave a friend my copy to read, and it’s taking her forever. My bookshelf feels so empty because it isn’t there.

  31. angelllla24 says:

    I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to Mark and everyone on this site. Your first review here that made me realize exactly why I love these reviews and comments. When you mentioned Gale and his possible shipping potential, I realized that unlike every other discussion forum out there (and I tried them all) the discussions and issues that are brought up here by you and your followers are actually insightful, intriguing comments that make you stop and think. Literally every other site I read about HP or Twilight was nothing but shipping wars and stupid fans drooling over themselves to gush about thier favorite fictional crush. Now I'm not a literary genius, but I'd much prefer discussing the sexism of Twilight rather than my vehement desire to be on Team Jacob. So THANK YOU for giving me this place to actually discuss and learn about the books I love! ____And also I'm very excited to embark on THG. These books kept me up at night and gave me nightmares. It was very very disconcerting. But of course, I loved it!

  32. rainbowsinside says:

    I'm gonna try to read along with you Mark! So here are my first thoughts on chapter 1:

    First person doesn't really bother me, but present tense really does. It can make the parts where Katniss is telling about how this world came to be sound more natural, but on the whole I just don't like it.

    So far, I don't care about Katniss. Yes, she's a gritty, independent heroine, and that does make for a strong female lead, but she just seems so typical. I've read characters like hers a hundred times and until there's something about her that stands out, I don't think I can even care about her. I realize this is only the first chapter so I really hope to be pleasantly surprised.

    I really love morbid themes in books, so this world is pretty interesting so far and now I really want to know what happened to District 13. I bet there's going to be some crazy conspiracy shit and District 13 was a part of it or something. Like they were doing medical experiments on the citizens or some creepy shit like that.

    Now I think we're supposed to not like Effie Trinket, but I just can't because omg spring green suit and bright pink hair wut. I think Harry Potter has taught me to automatically like anyone in strange clothes.

  33. Kaera says:

    Oh my god, you are going to LOVE THE HELL out of this shit! The Hunger Games is one of my favorite series! I can't wait to read your thoughts on it all! EXCITE!

  34. Flowerstar says:

    Yay, first review! I started the book yesterday afternoon, too, to read along with you – and it's probably a good thing that I read it online (my copy hasn't arrived yet) because I hate reading books online, so it was not hard to stop after the first chapter. Now, will I be able to keep that up when I got my books (hardcover edition box set, fuck yeah!) and shit gets even realer?!

    Also, I love you for your first reaction! I also went, oh fuck, first person narrator, ugh, I hate it! But it grew on me. Hopefully it will continue not to bother me for the rest of the book ^^.

    Other than that I don't have much to say yet (I'm also running on little sleep and it's early, so …), I'll just read on along with you! This will be great <3!

  35. Dragonizer says:

    Oh man, I just read this trilogy a couple of months back and I am SO EXCITED FOR YOU. I kind of love how intense the very first chapter started off as.

  36. CMBguy says:

    Hi Mark. First, I just want to say I stumbled upon MRHP when you were about half-way through HBP. I spent a weekend catching up through all of your comments and eagerly followed every new post, but this is my first comment. The first I heard of the Hunger Games trilogy was your announcement somewhere in the comments about you reading it next. I immediately bought the books and slammed through the trilogy in a couple of days, having every intention of when I started to read it chapter-by-chapter with you. I have nothing but the deepest respect for your will power and determination to stick with one (or two) chapters a day. I have absolutely no idea how you managed through the last few chapters of Death Hallows…

    "Heavy handed" were exactly the words I used when I tried to describe this book to someone else after having read only the first chapter or two, but as you can already tell it's a quintessential page turner, and for that I forgave all. Best of luck on a new series, and I look forward to your future posts.

  37. sophpoph says:

    This book seems alright. Once you've done the next few chapters I'll decide if I want to read it! Also I am very disappointed because I discovered that wordpress is blocked at my school unlike buzznet, so now I can't read at school. I'll have to do WORK.

  38. tlc says:

    I'm sooooo interested to see what you think of this series, Mark. I had some issues with it, but I couldn't put it down. I'm afraid you're in for some serious mental anguish if you keeping sticking to the chapter-a-day rule. It is SO INTENSE.

  39. lothlorien76 says:

    So happy to see more reviews! I've never read these books so I don't know anything about them either. Based on your first review, it sounds pretty fucked up. I kind of like it so far…bleak and foreboding. Can't wait for the second chapter! I think I'll actually not sleep in and check this book out from the library so I can read along too!

  40. Jessica says:

    Yeah I just read the first chapter of this book right now and I was like !!!!!!!. So surprised. I've heard people rave and rave about this book but what no one ever raved about was the clear depiction of the divisions of a class society, and I am pleasantly shocked to see this. The divides between the workers and the middle class in this chapter are so clearly defined, and there's also the arbitrary cruelty of the ruling class based in the Capitol. (I'm pretty sure not everyone in the Capitol is ruling class because then THEIR SOCIETY WOULD NOT FUNCTION but Katniss clearly doesn't live there and probably hasn't thought about this so this perception is excusable.) The function of the tesserae is also interesting. Gale clearly has his theory about how they sow divisions between the workers and the middle class (or workers who aren't starving? WHO KNOWS this book doesn't seem to distinguish between better-off workers and an actual middle class… at least not in chapter one) and hrmmmm. This may be. But from the perspective of the ruling class, it makes much more sense to sow divisions within the working class, not try to pit the working class as a whole against all the other classes. In fact it doesn't make any sense at all to try to give the working class a sense of unity and cohesion (in their misery). Of course if the point of this book has nothing to do with class and is more about the Capitol trying to stop nationalist secessionist movements, this strategy behind the tesserae makes rather more sense 😛

    omg I know I just rambled but as someone with solid left-wing, socialist politics this book just thrilled me with its focus on the divisions of class society. Like I'll be disappointed if the whole class focus is ditched and this turns into "Districts v. The Capitol".

  41. for2005miles says:

    Mark, I am following your reviews completely blind too. I'd never heard of these books until people mentioned them on MRHP. I might read along eventually but for now, I'm just going to enjoy your reactions!
    BTW, I was proudma05 on buzznet. Yeah, I need to think of better usernames. Sigh.

  42. lamuerta says:

    I totally thought Katniss was a boy too!

    Unfortunately, due the way the writing seems to indicate setting up for MAXIMUM ANGST, I figured it'd be Prim who would be chosen.

  43. Meagen says:

    Yeah, you guys have fun, I’m gonna be over there.

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

  44. Laura says:

    I'm so glad you're reading this book. Its a very intense series, and it seems just like the type of book you'd enjoy, Mark. And its intense from the get go. I can't wait to see your reactions!

  45. rissreader says:

    When I started this book I was reminded of The Long Walk, a Steven King novella. I think that was in first person too, but it fits the story.

    • calimie says:

      Stephen King's review of this book is excellent: he praises all the good things it has and then he mentions the book reminds him of Battle Royale and a couple of books by that Chapman bloke. It's here

  46. grlgoddess says:

    I’m going to try to read along with you, but I think I lack the self-control! Seriously, how do you do it? The only reason I haven’t crumbled and read the whole thing is because it’s almost 4am here and I have class at 10.

    I was also surprised at the first person present, first person is fine, but the present tense threw me a bit. And Katniss/Gale? I ship it already. If it wasn’t so late, I’d be writing the fic myself.

  47. Mim says:

    I cannot coherently express how excited I am that you’re reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these books and re-live the “Holy fuck!” moments with you (Warning: There are A LOT of those).

    Wow, I can’t believe you haven’t even read the blurbs on the book jackets! There are a lot of people out there who won’t even bother picking up the series because their first reaction is to sneer, “Oh, kids killing each other. Like in Battle Royale. It’s been done.” However, while the two might share some basic similarities, I found that their messages (especially the way they critiqued society) to be extremely different. Once you’re finished with the series, I’m interested to hear what you think.

    Anyways, judging from the comments, you’ve hooked a massive following into starting the series. And for that, I can only applaud you.

    Also, shit is going to get so much realer than this. J.K. Rowling is positively benevolent when compared to what Suzanne Collins does to her characters

  48. rowanlee says:

    All right! After a couple weeks without internet, I get to have a Mark Reads!

    And already I am… not really that impressed. I tried to read this book before, and couldn't make it past this chapter. Katniss… pretty neutral towards her. Generic "LOOK AT HOW BADASS AND CYNICAL I AM but i love my younger sibling/best friend/pet catcus". And I wasn't too surprised by Prim being chosen. Perhaps it's Collins's writing style, but all I could this was "I HAVE READ THIS STORY SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE AND I LIKED IT BETTER WHEN IT WAS BATTLE ROYALE".

    But Gale seems interesting, and I'm a sucker for dystopian stories, so I'll stick with whatever Mark chooses to read. :3

    (and I really hope there are zombies PLEASE GOD LET THERE BE ZOMBIES)

    • tethysdust says:

      Yeah, seriously, I'd be willing to forgive a lot of literary weaknesses if there can be zombies! I agree that it's generic YA fiction so far, but I don't actively dislike it. I'm hoping it'll pick up some depth as we go along!

  49. MaryJackie says:

    i'm so going to start reading with you..i've been planning to read this one for a while…:)

  50. Hannah says:

    Yay! I just started reading this along with you. I also have NO IDEA what to expect, all I know is er…Adam Lambert enjoyed it?! (don't throw things!) 😡
    So yeah, I'm going to guess it's going to be somewhere in the spectrum of That 4-Book Series With Sparkly Vampires That Shall Not Be Named and the Bible Of Wizarding Greatness. Yeah, I'm all about the specifics.
    So, first chapter. So far, so dystopian. Mmm I do love me some ruined civilisations + Battle Royale shit. ^_^
    It wasn't just Mark who did a double-take at the tv's, I guess the electrified fence should've made me realise they weren't in some pre-industrial times but then all the talk of bows + arrows and paraffin distracted me.
    Anyway, I have to say, thats some pretty efficient info-dumping for a first chapter, AND managed to fit in a genuinely shocking plot twist.
    So predictions: Katniss will attempt to swap herself for Prim, or follow her and take part as an 'illegal' 25th contestant. Probably Gale too, if he doesn't get picked anyway (actually I think he will and will vow to protect Prim)

  51. Rimma says:

    So after reading your chapter 1 review, I was intrigued. I sat down and started reading this book last night with the full intention of following along chapter by chapter with you, but as of this morning I'm in the middle of chapter 7…oops! Let's not kid ourselves by pretending I have any will-power.

    Also, I'm going on vacation in 2 days and I really should be packing, but I'm reading this insanely addicting book instead. MARK WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME

  52. xpanasonicyouthx says:


  53. Sadie says:

    Mark I loved your Mark Reads Harry Potter reviews and watching you fall in love with the series! I've followed you over here and started to read Hunger Games.

    Just like another reviewer I read the entire first book in one sitting yesterday! How did this happen?! Anyway I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did. Personally I though Prim being chosen was foreshadowed heavily since Katniss went on about how she cared for her sister.

  54. LamoreVincera says:

    I don't know if anyone pointed this out, Mark, but an FYI in case you didn't know (and when I began reading, I didn't): panem is Latin for bread, and short for "panem et circenses" – "bread and circuses", an old way of saying that a government is using superficial means to shut its people up.

    Just, erm, food for thought. (Bad pun unintended.)

  55. simba says:

    i finished reading the Hunger Games in one day, even though i had a test the next day 🙁

  56. malarkiness says:

    THIS is why I love this book. Shit wastes no time in getting real.

  57. Newbia says:

    Alright, Mark, this isn't a spoiler, but I want to warn you: stop saying "shit just got real", because there isn't a single point in the ENTIRE SERIES when shit is NOT real. It's just an eternal state of "HOLY SHIT GUYS, WHAT JUST HAPPENED."

  58. Newbia says:

    PS: Like, seriously, did I mention that you are not prepared? Because I'm 100% serious when I say that, it's just to be funny.

  59. Alex Steiner says:

    I'm in the same situation as you Mark, I haven't heard anything about the plot (or characters, or setting), and am just about to start.

    Should I read each chapter before reading your review, or at the same time?

    Or should I give in to temptation and read it from cover to cover?

    Chapters one and two from , the rest from the local library on Friday 🙁 .

  60. 1foxi says:

    I only just read the first chapter – DEAR GOD!! Some real sh*t goes down, I feel slightly sick!! Must read next chapter pronto x

  61. barnswallowkate says:

    I found first person present tense excruciating at the beginning of The Time Traveler's Wife. I almost couldn't get past it to read the rest of the book (which I found excruciating for other reasons, haha). But in this book I'm so interested to find out what happens that I didn't even notice it in this first chapter. Hopefully the style will fade into the background as you read further (it sounds like it's starting to in your newer reviews).

  62. BinahtheBold says:

    Hi Mark! I've followed you over here from Buzznet; I like the spiffy spiffiness of the new site.

    So… I'm so utterly addicted to your reviews, I went out and bought the Hunger Games series. After reading the first chapter, then reading this review, I'm utterly hooked. (Must not skip work to stay home and read…)

    Look forward to reading more!

  63. gredandforge says:

    Hmm, I loved reading your Harry Potter and Breaking Dawn reviews (I'll be reading your reviews on the rest of the Twilight series soo!); I read them all in 2 days, and that is not an exaggeration lol. I'm excited to read more of your reviews, and this time, I'll be able to read them in real-time instead of being months behind and reading after you've finished the series already 😛

    I read the Hunger Games trilogy over the summer and I have to say: The Hunger Games was fantastic, Catching Fire (book 2) was enjoyable but not quite as good, and Mockingjay (book 3) was a fucking disaster. I hated every minute of Mockingjay and it nearly ruined the series for me. I'm getting angry just thinking of it! I wrote a long-winded rant on Goodreads to let my anger out, and I'm over it now, but man, it was so disappointing. I'm excited for you to get to Mockingjay so I can hear your opinions. In the meantime, enjoy the Hunger Games!

    And keep us updated on your Harry Potter re-reads and anything HP related!

  64. lindseytinsey says:

    I haven't heard anything about this series until Mark mentioned it and I think I found a few people on twitter talking about how much they liked it. I just read the first chapter and I'm already excited about it. So horrified that Prim's name got fished out of the ball! She only had one slip????
    Please everyone, don't post spoilers or any hints even. =) On to chapter 2

  65. F.A.R. says:

    Mark, if you didn't expect Prim to be chosen, you should probably spend more time on TV Tropes. Wait, what am I talking about — your over-the-top reactions are basically the best part of these blogs. Stay surprised!

    – A Devoted Latecomer <3

  66. forthejokes says:

    I got onto MRHP just when you were reading Deathly Hallows, so I'm glad I'm able to read along with you for this series, which I also love (though not as much as Harry Potter). So I'd like to agree that shit is indeed real, and that YOU ARE NOT PREPARED 🙂

  67. I'm so glad a friend directed me to your site, I just finished reading the trilogy (Hunger Games) and I've been longing to read some reviews and discussions about it! I found the books very exciting, so much so that it was hard to get to bed on time (I read the last two in one sitting for each). I hope you continue to enjoy them as much as I did (and yeah, the humor is very dark… like the line you laughed at about entrails being the only love between our heroine and her sister's cat).

  68. Cathy (catd94) says:

    I love that you're reading the Hunger Games!
    While it's not Harry Potter, I have to say I really liked this series too

  69. Warmouth says:

    Okay, I have not kept as well with this because I have been busy with school and work or not, but now that I finally get a moment to breathe I am going to start reading along.

    First impressons so far (good)
    1. I like the setting Collins has given us. It's very Orwellian and one of my favorite books is 1984.
    2. I had no idea what the Hunger Games were and the explanation is a lot better than I was expecting. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I was expecting some dumb reason.
    3. Exploding fathers what?
    4. I like the names, because their weird but not over the top. I'm weird with names like that. Though I don't know if I'll ever quit thinking of Katniss as Katpiss. Don't tell me no one else was thinking that?

    The bad:
    1. I'm not digging how infodumpy this can be, but it's not anything I can't deal with as long as the story is good.
    2. The foreshadowing with Gale and Katniss is pretty obvious.
    3. There's a quote from Stephenie Meyer on the back of my book. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE SMEYER LEAVE NOW.

    Overall though, I'm intriqued. On to chapter 2!

  70. thefbm says:


  71. Stephanie says:

    I drew the exact same parallel between the Reaping and the Lottery when I first read this. It has that combination of everyone being sad for whoever is chosen, but at the same time, extremely happy that it wasn't them. I also want to say how excited it makes me to see other people get into books that I love.

  72. Mary says:

    I just started this book last night. This book is fucking crazy, literally. I could not put this thing down.

  73. Matteh says:

    I am like.

    Just got my copy yesterday and managed to read chapter one today after work.

    I agree with you that Collins' style of narration is uber direct but sometimes that works. I think this has the potential to be one of those times.

    I had a nagging feeling Prim would be chosen as soon as Katniss mentioned she only had one entry. Not sure what's going to happen next though, I'd imagine she'll somehow replace Prim in the Games.


  74. Stephalopolis says:

    The first review always has it's own special place in my heart 🙂 Something about first discovering the book, deciding if you like it or not, immersing yourself in the new world, confused about words/situations that eventually become common knowledge.

    I must say- I did love this exchange…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.

    😀 Yep.

    Yay for Chapter 1! On to Chapter 2!!

    Oh… and yeah- Primrose being selected? Out of NOWHERE and I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped to the ground when I read that sentence.

  75. notemily says:

    I agree that Prim is kind of unrealistic as the sweet, perfect, innocent character. But I think since we're viewing this through Katniss's eyes, that's what she sees, not necessarily the truth. Katniss wants Prim to remain innocent, because then she feels like she's doing all of this–the hunting, the starving, the working to feed her family–for a reason, not just to stay alive but to give Prim a happier life. The kind Katniss didn't get to have. And she feels a natural big-sister protectiveness towards her. So I think her view might be a little bit warped.

  76. Kelly L. says:

    Yeah. Don't read the plot summaries of the other books. They're spoily. >:(

  77. cdnstar says:

    Okay – so very very way behind here, since I have been too busy to pick up the book, even though I had it. BUT! Today I had a nice long almost-six-hour-flight, and now I've not only started it, but caught up AND finished it. I shall not spoil, but I have a few comments from my initial thoughts in starting the book/Chapter 1.

    I don't mind first person present tense if it is written well, but I had a hard time getting into the speech/sentence structure that Collins uses. I understand that it is written as per how we should expect Katniss is thinking, and based on her education, her social standing, her thought process, her age … but I found it a bit too choppy and abrupt for my liking in the first chapter (or …. six). I did finally get into it and I think it helped me put myself in Katniss' place … but it took awhile. I think I'll need to reread it to fully appreciate the beginning of the book, as I was a bit … annoyed at it. But you know, stuck on airplane with one book – I stuck with it, and am glad I did.

    /sidenote/ The Lottery is flippin' awesome.

    My thought comparisons ran towards 1984/Handmaid's Tale, with the self-censorship/state censorship & monitoring/dystopian society – and I think that might also have contributed to why i had issues with the writing style, as I started comparing it in my head to other books that struck me similarly and yet were much more articulate.

  78. Saber says:

    She infects everything. WHY MUST YOU BE LIKE A SICKNESS MEYER

  79. Tasneemoo says:

    sorry for the delay, but I am here and I have read chapter 1 🙂
    I swear somebody in my hometown is following you too, the one and only book in the city library was suspiciously taken out at the same time you started…and returned when you finished :/ suspicious 😮
    But I loved this chapter very much, there's no beating around the bush about what these 'Hunger Games' are and even thought it is a massive info dump, I'm okay with it if it means getting to the main plot faster 😀 At least it's not a twilight where for 10 chapters [exaggerated, maybe] it was all 'is he or isn't he a vampire?!' even though EVERYONE knows he is. fail.
    Anyway, to sum up, I pretty much had the same reactions as you, although not as big a shock for prim because I read the blurb 😐 Can't wait for the rest of the journey!

    oh, and I was getting a bit put off by the books – the front page had a reccomendation from SMeyer herself.

  80. ScarlettMi says:

    I went into this book with the exact same amount of information. There was a whole lot of recommendation for the book but, thankfully, my Twitter feed was respectful of keeping spoilers vague and almost non-existent. Aside from some character names I was able to go into this story without even knowing the information on the back of the book.

    And I'm so glad. It sucked me right in. Now I'm sitting here, so thankful that you decided to cover these stories, because that will cover the bridge of time until I'm able to get books two and three delivered.

  81. elyce says:

    Okay, so I'm way late but I finally started reading the Hunger Games (not my fault – very difficult to find English language books in France, especially this kind). I'm only up to chapter 8 but I thought I'd pop in here and read your own thoughts on the first few chapters.

    Honestly, your first thoughts were exactly my first thoughts: "Oh God, it's in first person? Why didn't I check before buying it?" and "The writing is kind of choppy." and "First person and present tense? really?"


    I also was not expecting Prim to be chosen, despite having read the book jacket (apparently my memory is really short for that kind of thing). I fully expected it to be Kat. And I know we're not in this book at all, but I wouldn't be averse to Kat/Gale fanfic at all. Just sayin.

  82. Kadijo Said says:

    ok this kinda can be inapropriate or saying some not good words

  83. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing on your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

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  84. 123123 says:

    thnx that helped but still u rn't clean and oringized

  85. Celeste says:

    I have just started this book. I read chapter one. Your reaction = mine. Welp.

  86. Pingback: What the Movies Wear « toonerdygirls

  87. I?ll right away snatch your rss feed as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me know so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

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

  88. Eeyore9990 says:

    OMG, I haven't finishef yet, but I have to tell you that you're the first person I've discussed these books with (yes, this is totally a discussion, shuttup) that even KNEW The Lottery. And OMG, yes, exactly. *draws hearts around you*

    I can't wait to go on this journey with you. I wish I knew you IRL, Mark, because you would make an awesome friend.

  89. Alexis Angiano says:

    I like this 🙂 but HATED the comments…it was annoying

  90. Pingback: [Filmreihe] The Hunger Games - Die Tribute von Panem (Romanverfilmung von Suzanne Collins) - Seite 7 - Projekt Star Wars

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