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Review: The Hunger Games

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Title:The Hunger Games

Author:Suzanne Collins

Series: Book 1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

In the future, the city of Panem is all that is left of North America. In this society, the Capitol is surrounded by 12 outlying districts. Because they tried to rebel in the past, the Capitol created a cruel game to punish and remind them who is truly in charge. In these annual Hunger Games, each district must send two tributes–one boy and one girl–to compete. Winning means everything: food, shelter, riches, fame. Losing is death. Katniss, who has only ever had to worry about survival, is prepared to win–or at least go down fighting, but it is her fellow tribute Peeta that makes her see that there is more to life than surviving. The Games will try to change them, but they will change the Games.

divider-51Favorite Characters

My favorite character in here has to be Cinna. I’m sorry, but Cinna definitely takes the #1 spot. I love the simple kindness that he shows Katniss, how he makes statements with fashion and isn’t afraid to do it. There’s something really powerful and likable about Cinna and I’m hoping to see more of him in the series. He’s not a fighter, but he’s not entirely compliant. He really knows how to bring the best out in people and how to read them. I love Cinna ❤

As a second character, probably not too far behind would be Katniss. I actually really enjoy her as a character. In the movie, she seemed very … bland. Emotionless but not in a good way. In the book, she talks about projecting herself that way to hide/protect her feelings and thoughts. I think I’m enjoying the book a lot more because I can actually read about her reasons behind things and her indecisiveness.

divider-51Favorite Scenes

► Because I’m actually reading this to prepare for my Hunger Games class next semester, I tried to look at the book probably a little differently than I usually do. I focused more on themes in the book. One of them was the fear that the Capitol used to keep everyone in line. Control. Power. People in District 12 live in constant fear of standing up against the Capitol, but I found this passage powerful in its own simple way. This is right after Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games.

To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps. Not even the ones holding betting slips, the ones who are usually beyond caring. Possibly because they know me from the Hob, or knew my father, or have encountered Prim, who no one can help loving. So instead of acknowledging applause, I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. We do not condone. All of this is wrong.

► The book also does a better job of explaining the relationship between (or lack thereof) between Katniss and her mother. In the movie I didn’t get much in the sense I couldn’t figure out if she loved her or not. In the book, you get to understand why there’s this distance between them, why Katniss refuses to depend on her in any way. After Katniss’s father died her mother went through some kind of depression where she just kinda checked out.

When I am done with instructions about fuel, and trading, and staying in school, I turn to my mother and grip her arm, hard. “Listen to me. Are you listening to me?” She nods, alarmed by my intensity. She must know what’s coming. “You can’t leave again,” I say. 

My mothere’s eyes find the flood. “I know. I won’t. I couldn’t help what–“

“Well, you have to help it this time. You can’t clock out and leave Prim on her own. There’s no me to keep you both alive. It doesn’t matter what happens. Whatever you see on the screen. You have to promise me you’ll fight through it!” My voice has risen to a shout. I n it is all the anger, all the fear I felt at her abandonment. 

► This is one of the moments that makes me curious about Cinna. Right before this, he had a small moment too that made me curious where he says that he asked to work with District 12–which is usually considered the least desirable of the districts and given to new stylists (which he is, it’s his first time working in the Games).

My face is relatively clear of makeup, just a bit of highlighting here and there. My hair has been brushed out and then braided down my back in my usual style. “I want the audience to recognize you when you’re in the arena,” says Cinna dreamily. “Katniss, the girl who was on fire.”

► This is definitely one of the more badass moments that Katniss has in the books, and it absolutely made me love her. This is when she’s supposed to show off her skills for the Gamemakers, but they are more distracted by the food in the room/bored because she’s literally the last one.

It’s an excellent shooting. I turn to the Gamemakers. A few are nodding approval, but the majority of them are fixated on a roast pig that has just arrived at their banquet table. 

Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don’t even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I’m being upstaged by a dead pig. My heart starts to pound, I can feel my face burning. Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers’ table. I hear shouts of alarm as people stumble back. The arrow skewers the apple in the pig’s mouth and pins it to the wall behind it. Everyone stares at me in disbelief.

“Thank you for your consideration,” I say. Then I give a slight bow and walk straight toward the exit without being dismissed.

► There’s a couple moments like this in the book, but I’m choosing the first. I like how Haymitch in this book is able to communicate so effectively with Katniss. And how she can understand and calculate so well to figure out what she needs to do/what he wants her to do. For so much of the book he’s just seen as a drunk, but once he sees them as actual contenders he gives it his all and comes alive. This passage is during the Games when Katniss is nearly dying from dehydration. She asks for water, hoping Haymitch can get a sponsor to send it, but it doesn’t arrive.

I bury my face in my hands. There’s no danger of tears now, I couldnt’ produce one to save my life. What is Haymitch doing? Despite my anger, hatred, and suspicions, a small voice in the back of my head whispers an answer.

Maybe he’s sending you a message, it says. A message. Saying what? Then I know. There’s only one good reason Haymitch could be withholding water from me. Because he knows I’ve almost found it. 

divider-51Review

Internally screaming because there are so many other moments I’d like to talk about more towards the end of the book that really shows how Katniss goes from just wanting to get through the Games to actually giving a damn about what it all means. Plus one moment that showed how messed up the Gamemakers can be (if you know what I’m talking about holy crap, the dead tributes).

But anyways, on to the main event: the review.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m actually taking a Hunger Games class next semester so it’s why I finally decided to read the series. It was on my TBR for a while but I just never got around to it and I have to say I’m really glad I did. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about them since I’ve seen the first movie, but the books are a completely different experience. They go into so much depth about the world, what people experience, their struggles and fears–it’s something that they move failed to explore. There’s less focus on the Games in the book and more about the actual people, which I personally enjoyed.

Of course, starvation is a big theme in the book. It’s all anyone thinks about in District 12 (and others). I like that Collins thought to include moments in the book where characters are wanting to devour food but are forced to limit themselves because they’re so unused to decent food that it makes them sick.

There’s also a theme of self-exploration. Katniss has only ever been worried about making it to the next day, surviving. But as time goes on and she starts to think she may have a chance at winning, she’s forced to start looking at her relationships with Peeta and Gale, and what they actually mean to her. For those of you who dislike love triangle: yes, there kind of is one. It’s so subtle in the book that it’s not really a major aspect of it. And it’s also for a good reason. She’s oblivious to any kind of romantic relationship because it’s simply not on her mind. It’s not a priority when all she can worry about is making sure they don’t starve that day.

In the book, Katniss really comes off as not only a great hunter but as very observant. She understands the implications of many people’s actions, especially when it comes to the little people out in the districts. And the people know how to protest in small ways like when the refused to clap, or when one of the other districts sent Katniss food in the Games. I loved reading those small ways that Collins showed the spirit of the people.

This book is interesting just as a story, sure, but it offers a whole lot more. Don’t come into the book just looking for the action and killing in the Games. There’s some, but really it’s a great book for how it explores ideas of government power and abuse, censorship, starvation, survival–this book is really good at looking at these other things. Not just looking at some bloodbath competition.

I’m really looking forward to reading and reviewing the next book. I know plenty of people have told me that it’s not as great as the first or that it’s kinda mixed, but I think I’m really going to enjoy them.

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