Category Archives: The Hunger Games

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale
The first time I read this book, it was recommended to me by my high school theatre teacher. I admired her so much that I didn’t even bother to read anything about the book before I checked it out. Three years later, I reread it in one sitting with the same sense of urgency and dedication that had so intrigued me then. I absolutely loved the ending, which (not to spoil anything) puts the whole story into a new light and makes you think even more. Highly recommended for fans of The Hunger Games who were bored/disappointed with the love triangle and wanted more world building and political talk.

Read earlier reviews of The Handmaid’s Tale, here and here.

Availability:  SMCM, USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Molly McGowan
Rating: Highly Recommended

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is the first in an apocalyptic trilogy of books by Dashner. When Thomas wakes up in a moving box, he’s without his memories and is surrounded by a large group of boys who can’t remember their pasts either. Each boy only has memories from his arrival in “The Glade.” Thomas quickly learns that the boys all have jobs in order to ensure their livelihood (farming, raising/slaughtering animals, cooking, cleaning, etc.). Supplies arrive weekly in the box, but the boys have no contact with anyone outside the Glade. Thomas is intrigued by the maze outside the glade doors and the boys whose job it is to run the maze and map it as it changes each day. The boys believe the maze holds the key to their escape from the Glade, but it is also filled with Grievers – dangerous creatures who can attack, injure or kill the runners. Thomas begins to have flashes of memories, especially after a girl (Teresa) arrives in the box.

The story leads up to an exciting cliffhanger as the boys and Teresa race against time and the “creators” to escape the glade and the maze. Looking forward to completing the storyline in the next two books. This book reminded me of The Hunger Games, but it is not nearly as good as that novel.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Sandi Hauenstein
Rating:  Recommended

Red Rising by: Pierce Brown

Red Rising

Red Rising is a futuristic type book where the “classes” of society are highly controlled and limited. We experience the book through the eyes of Darrow, a “Red” who experiences loss, pain and grief. He strives to excel above his (class) color in vengeance to those who have controlled him and his community for so long. If you enjoyed “Hunger Games” this is right up your alley!

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Courtney Roberts
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: A color in the title

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

On Such a Full SeaImagine a future without Natty Boh.

Set in a near-future Baltimore (“re”named B-Mor), On Such a Full Sea tells the story of Fan, a teenage employee of an Inner Harbor fish-farm who abandons the relative, repressive safety of her walled corporate-police state to search for her lover, Reggie. Reggie has mysteriously been disappeared by the corporate overlords of B-Mor after Reggie scores literally off-the charts in the frequent, dreaded, medical tests administered to all employees of the company-town.

Though the narrative follows Fan and Reggie, the story is told in an eerie, communal voice of the second-person plural which centers the story on the fate of B-Mor. Through this collective “we” we, the readers, learn that the present-day inhabitants of Baltimore largely hail from China, pressed into corporate slavery in order to escape an over-polluted and populated central China generations ago. Baltimore, and other cities alluded to in the Midwest, have also been largely depopulated by economic collapse and degraded food-supplies due to degraded environmental health before being repurposed as labor camps. The immigrants to B-Mor labor to produce “pristine” tilapia and other fish to sell to the “Charters;” walled enclaves for the rich, famous, and powerful. In between the company towns and the Charters lie the relatively lawless and impoverished “Counties.”

Through the community’s collective voice, the reader learns of B-Mor’s history, and speculates as to how Fan survives the routine horrors of the Counties, and later, a Charter Village in New York. The voice is haunting, and through this voice the dystopia presented in the novel comes across as believable and logical. At times the voice seems to grope towards both disquiet and outright rebellion before snapping back into the conciliatory and sheepish voice of a community held in total check by economic and police oppression. I found myself yelling at the community, “don’t you get how messed up that is? Or that!?” time and again. And time and again this line of questioning made me think about the grisly things about our culture and our time which we explain away or resign ourselves to as we try to make a living that is often complicit, if not downright supportive, of larger, destructive forces.

We live in turbulent times, and it seems there is a particular glut of dystopia in how contemporary authors are imagining the future in a world of growing economic inequality, climate change, globalization, and lightning-speed technological (and biotechnological!) innovation. Yet the deluge (pun intended) of apocalyptic and dystopic fiction– from The Hunger Games to Game of Thrones to Avatar, Oblivion, and other perennial summer blockbusters– can get tiresome and banal.

But to use a cliché to describe how Lee dispels them, On Such a Full Sea breaks free of the mold into which most dystopic futurescapes are cast. Perhaps that’s overstating it; its more that Lee playfully inhabits and shows off what a great literary talent can do with the chronically undervalued tropes of genre fiction. Lee’s other novels are largely realist; often taking up the lived experiences of Asian American immigrants facing exclusion, racism, and economic hardship both before coming to the US and throughout the rest of characters’ lives. Lee uses the near-future advances in medicine and luxury contrasted with corporate dominion to punctuate his metaphors of contemporary wealth-inequality in the world in On Such a Full Sea.

Elegantly written and especially gripping to those of us who have spent some time in Maryland, On Such a Full Sea is a dark story you won’t want to say goodbye to once you’ve come it its end.

We recommend it highly.

Availability: USMAI
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games (Book 1 of the Hunger Games trilogy) is a book that shows what one will do if they are truly faced with danger in order to save friends and family, what they will do to survive. Hallucinations, actual terrors, love and survival are all read in this book which creates a world unlike an other, one that you would not want to leave, but never want to live in. If you want to read a book for four hours non-stop, read this book.

(Hunger Games trilogy in order: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay)

Availability: USMAI, COSMOS and SMCM Library
Review Submitted by: Andrew Lachkovic (still Matt’s brother)
Rating: Highly Recommended

Read more reviews of The Hunger Games series.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching FireCatching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. It’s another great book, and I finished it quickly even though it starts out at a slower pace than the first. It can be found in the SMCM library.

Availability: SMCM Library and COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Heather Pribut
Rating: Must Read

Read Mandy Reinig’s review of Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesI read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in two days. I probably could have read it in one if I didn’t have to work! It’s an awesome book, and very fast-paced! Great for getting back into the habit of reading for pleasure if you haven’t done it in a while. A “must read”!

Availability: SMCM Library
Review Submitted by: Heather Pribut
Rating: Must Read

Read reviews of The Hunger Games,