Author: Suzanne Collins
Source: Bought @ Barnes & Noble
Excerpt from Goodreads:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.
If she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
*I was required to read this book for my Literature and War class.
This was my second time reading The Hunger Games and after seeing the movie multiple times. I was very familiar with the work, but when I read it this time, through the eyes of a critical reader, the experience was extremely different. As a novel to read for pleasure, I found that I enjoyed the story much more than I did when I was required to read it for class and dissect the literary aspects of the characters and plot.
I’m assuming anyone who wanted to read this book already has or has seen the movie so this section isn’t going to discuss spoilers as much it is going to discuss the differences in the way I interpreted the novel the second time around.
One of the main things I disliked when reading the novel this time, was Katniss and Peeta’s relationship. To be clear, I wasn’t annoyed with how their relationship progresses in this novel, but having read the entire series I’m simply frustrated with the way I know their relationship will turn out. Throughout The Hunger Games Katniss repeatedly mentions that she doesn’t want kids, doesn’t want a relationship with Peeta or anyone, and yet it is forced upon her. I also think their relationship takes away from the overall message of the book, and depletes the integrity of the story. I felt like the relationship was only added to appease the targeted, young adult audience.
We discussed this aspect of the novel many times in class, and even though a few students argued for the relationship, saying that it was an interesting challenge Katniss had to overcome and deal with in order to survive, it still doesn’t sit well with me. Again, I’m not as upset by the relationship displayed in this novel as I am with the ones in the later novels, but I’ll leave that for another review.
Another thing that annoyed me while reading this time was realizing how much Collins ‘told’ the reader instead of ‘showing’ us. I felt like the book was dumbed down in some ways and that the author or publisher assumed the audience wouldn’t be able to interpret or comprehend Katniss’ actions, so she told us everything that was happening, instead of letting us come to our own conclusions.
I didn’t mean for this review to turn into a rant, so I’ll try and turn it around. The things I really enjoyed about the novel is the fact that I hate that I enjoyed it. By liking this book, I’m playing right into Collins trap and becoming no better than a member of the Capitol. I think it’s amazing that this book, while showing us the horrors of the Capitol and of the Hunger Games, pulls us in and reverses the situation, making us, the consumers and readers and everyone who saw the movie, observers and willing audience members of…well, the Hunger Games. It’s such a brilliant and existential concept that I’m having a hard time adequately explaining it, but hopefully you get what I’m hinting at.
I’ll openly admit that I enjoyed this book much more the first time, when I was 17 years old and reading it for fun. Picking it up again and reading it critically and analyzing every sentence, every plot twist or character motivation, has definitely given me a new and drastically different perspective.
I think what Collins was able to accomplish with this novel, and through the movie, is an amazing feat that leaves audience members and readers alike examining the world we live in and contemplating what could happen. I’m excited to go and reread the second and third book in the series before the movies come out, and wondering what I’ll like or dislike about those novels after I’ve read them more critically.