The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

12 May
Yo, I finally read The Hunger Games. It only took me, oh, a year or so to do it. And for no good reason other than I figured I’d get around to it. Sometimes, inexplicably, I can get buzz-averse, where if a book gets too famous, I avoid it because I feel like I’m supposed to like it, and then I get all defiant. Weird, I know. But after the movie came out and all my girlfriends were waxing rhapsodic about it, I knew I should give it a go. So glad I did, because it really is an exciting book worthy of the hoopla.

I think I may be the last person in the free world to read this book, so I’ll just give a very short synopsis here. The country of Panem now exists where America once did and consists of twelve distinctive districts surrounding the Capitol. Some time ago, the districts rose in rebellion and were soundly beaten, and since then, the Capitol has instilled the rather barbaric tradition of the Hunger Games. Every year, all twelve through eighteen (I think?) year olds must enter a lottery – a boy and a girl from each district are picked from this lottery to be entered into The Hunger Games as tributes. These Hunger Games are awful – 24 kids are dropped into an unknown wilderness and must kill each other to survive. Only one can win. It’s like The Lord of the Flies meets Brave New World, with a little bit of The Wizard of Oz thrown in (descriptions of the Capitol and its aesthetics kept reminding me of Oz).

As you can imagine, there’s lots of political and sociological implications in the setup of The Hunger Games. The Capitol frames The Hunger Games as a chance to honor your district, but everyone knows it’s little more than a punishment as well as a horrific way for the Capitol to amuse itself by placing bets and sponsoring the participants, like a giant, death-filled soap opera. There’s a lot of discussion among Katniss (the girl tribute from District 12), Peeta (the boy tribute from District 12), and their support crew on engineering their look, presentation, and “story” to appeal most to the Capitol, an effort that makes Katniss sick at the hypocrisy and lies. It’s very meta and kind of reminded me of The Truman Show, where somebody’s real life is being made into sport for the amusement of an audience.

I did love Katniss – I texted my friend that she was “a beast” at one point. I’m pretty sure if I was dropped into the Hunger Games alongside her, she’d kick my ass in 2.5 seconds. And she’s such a tomboy, really – she is almost willfully ignorant of how others, especially boys, are affected by her. Which brings me to Peeta [this is kind of spoiler-y, so please don’t read on if you don’t want to hear details], who seems like a really nice guy and I don’t fault the character for just being stand-up and kind. But…the love angle. It didn’t really work for me. The reader is supposed to believe Peeta has carried a torch for Katniss for almost his whole life, and he demonstrates this by repeatedly saving her life at great personal danger and risk to his own. But, Katniss doesn’t even know him. They’ve never even had a conversation, and she’s convinced he’s faking an interest in her during the competition to appeal to viewers. This honestly seems like a logical assumption on her part, and when he’s hurt by her admission that she’s confused about how she feels about him and had been playing up any romantic connection for the cameras, I got a little annoyed. I mean, dude, she was fighting for her life in there and she doesn’t even know you apart from recognizing you from her district as the baker’s son, and he gets all bent out of shape that she didn’t fall madly in love over the past two weeks? Just didn’t feel right to me, but it’s a minor complaint.

I was totally into this book, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy to find out how all the drama and intrigue plays out.

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4 Responses to “The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins”

  1. Aunt Linda May 13, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Thanks for the book report. I saw the movie but had not read any of the books. My movie companion had read them all, and was not displeased with the translation of the story between the two mediums. I am getting a Kindle today, and that may be the first book I upload (download?) and read. I was thinking of “50 Shades of Gray” for my first experience, but that might not be appropriate just yet. All the publicity is “tweaking” my curiosity. Luv Ya!

  2. Rebecca May 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    I’m so glad you read this.

    Hum, that sounded strange after I typed it. I’m happy that you read a book I thought was really good. I really like the way Collins builds tension, and I liked all the political underpinnings to the story. I agree with you about the love story, though I like the overall way she handled it over the series.

    I gobbled up this whole series. Now I wish I’d taken a little more time because it’s become somewhat of a blur. Have you seen the movie?

    • Amanda May 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      I love it when we agree on books too. 🙂 I feel like I need your book-organizing presence here – I’m finally unpacking books in the new place and figuring out where to put them.

      It seems like people agree that the love story gets better throughout the series, so I guess I’ll just have to keep reading. Poor me, right? 🙂

      I haven’t seen the movie, but am dying to! Oh, by the way, I’m reading A Discovery of Witches right now and really liking it. Do I remember that you also read this?

      • Rebecca May 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

        I actually picked that book up last week, then put it aside in favor of Native Star by MK Hobson. It’s on my list to read, though.

        I really wish I were there to help with the book organization! I love reorganizing my bookshelves. I was just thinking a few days ago that I look forward to moving, because the shelves need a good shuffle, and it’s so much easier to do it all at once. I suppose I could do that now, but it’s not THAT much fun. 🙂

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