Book: The Hunger Games
Author/Authoress: Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games is one of the best known dystopian young adult books and I loved it. It seems kinds of silly to me, that I dedicated this blog to young adult dystopian books and I still didn’t have a post about the Hunger Games over here. I guess I took it for granted that everyone’s read the series (and loved it too) but recently I wished a friend of mine ‘May the odds ever be in your favour’ in and got a blank look in return. To minimize my self-humiliation I prompted them- “You know, the Hunger Games?” and got a smile and a ‘I haven’t watched the movie yet’…
I haven’t watched the movie yet?!? <Shakes head in despair>. You poor, poor deprived person.
So, here I am, reviewing the Hunger Games not just for the sake of the people who think it’s just a movie but also for people who I know have read and loved it. Be warned, this may turn into a fangirling session.
I don’t really go for the minimalist style for book covers. So the stark black background with ugly white letters proclaiming that the book’s name was ‘The Hunger Games’ and watermarks of targets didn’t really inspire much enthusiasm for me. But I can admire how the background makes the mocking-jay pin stand out. It’s probably the most recognisable young adult series just for that golden shiny pin which appears in some form or the other on every single book in the series. And for good reason too, that pin is important. Every single event in this book eventually boils down to that pretty golden pin.
Katniss: The main character that everyone loves and even if you say you don’t love her, you know deep down you really do. Ever since her father died at the tender age of ten, she’s been shouldering the full load of her family almost single handily. She learnt how to hunt with a bow and arrow (actually let’s be fair to her father, he taught her before he died) and hunts illegally catching squirrels and rabbits neatly in the eye as well as bringing bigger game down. Like expected from such a character, she’s not squeamish about blood or even that squeamish about killing human living beings. To her, they’re just bigger prey. She’s suspicious and mistrusting (even of her own mother) but once you have her loyalty or do her a favour, she’ll do anything for you and do her best to get out of your debt. And her way of classifying everyone into predator and prey- totally charming. But she has her flaws too. Can there ever be a good character without flaws? Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question. Katniss is hot-headed and stubborn and while this makes her undoubtedly cool at some times, it gets her into trouble as well. Besides that, she has the annoying tendency to see everything in black and white and label everyone and everything as evil and good. She doesn’t see blurry lines and grey areas. Another thing that annoys me about her is her priorities- they’re seriously messed up.
Prim: Prim’s the kind of cliché sweet baby sister character who the main character has to protect. But Suzanne Collins is not content to leave her flat and two dimensional. With the help of memories and Rue, Ms. Collins manages to string together an amazing back story which not only shows just how gentle, kind and sheltered Prim is but her healing genius and tough inner strength as well.
Rue: Rue was a fabulous character. Just small and innocent enough for Katniss to protect and wise, clever and skilled enough to stand on her own. Through her, we learn more about the Capitol and through her death we develop a hatred for it. I’m not ashamed to admit- this is one death scene I actually cried for.
Cato: Is it weird that I actually liked this brutal, brain-washed Career from district 2? His intense temper and smug arrogance made me laugh, laugh, laugh. Suzanne Collins, would you please do a short story from Katniss’s archenemy’s of the 74th Hunger Games point of view?
In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
Honestly, how could I resist this plot? It’s like a twisted mix of awful reality television, a promise of lots of action and a chilling dystopian world. Just what I’ve always wanted.
The strange blend with old fashionedness (trains and phones as a novelty) and modern technology (mutated, genetically modified animals and food appearing at the touch of a button) that’s so common for these types of books worked fantastically for this one. The world building begins on page one of this book and continues on ’til the last page of the last book. It’s slow, gradual and inspired genius.
You would think that with 24 deaths, eventually all of the action will get boring. That’s not true. Not true at all. Right now I’m thinking of death by tracker-jackers. Definitely not a fun way to go. It seems weird to compliment Suzanne Collins on the imaginative deaths she thought up for her characters, but I have to. They were really innovative and cool in a gruesome sort of ways.
Peeta: For some reason Peeta really annoys me in this book. Despite him starring in a major part of the book either directly or indirectly, I feel that we’re not really given much information about him. Even the information we are given is in the form of telling and not showing. What we do know about him: he bakes bread, he likes camouflaging, he’s selfless, he’s a good actor (or the Careers are really dumb, either one or maybe both) he’s been in love with Katniss since he was five, he remembers everything about Katniss, he was too shy to tell her that he loved her for eleven years until he announced it on national television, he refuses to let Katniss put her life in danger for his sake, etc. etc.
I think you get my point. A large part of his personality is based on Katniss’s. So much so, he’s almost defined by her. If you take her away, you get a kind of cowardly guy who bakes bread and likes art. Not the dreamboat everyone thinks about.
Gale: We’re only treated to him for a couple of pages and it’s already obvious where this is heading. He’s angry, rash, masculine (which means he’s not into baking or art), anti-capitol and truly, deeply and madly in love with Katniss although she doesn’t know it yet. Other than that, he’s remarkably similar to Peeta.<rolls eyes> Oh boy!
Disclaimer: I am sick of love triangles in which there are obvious winners and carbon copy characters.
Just look up, the love in this book is riddled with plot holes.
I am reminded again why I do not read young adult dystopia for its strong, gradual and beautiful romances. But I loved the world building, plot, most of the characters, and the action of this book. I would recommend reading and maybe even buying this book.