Thursday, June 24, 2010
As you've probably figured, The Hunger Games is a re-read; though, I don't technically own it yet. So, any of you who'd like to buy it for my gem shelf, feel free.
Honestly, I don't know where to begin with this one. The characters are well developed and unforgettable, the plot gives so many twists and turns, you never know what is coming next. Let me tell you, Collins is a master of giving the reader the unexpected at just the right moment. Even the setting commands attention.
It's a future America called Panem. But this future isn't so bright. After the thirteen districts rebelled against the government and lost, the leaders of the nation though fit to implement a annual reminder to the people proving again and again that they are the ones in charge. Hence, the Hunger Games. Each year, everyone is required to attend the reaping during which one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the twelve districts are chosen to play in the Hunger Games. Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, this is not a prize you want to win. Definitely not. You see, it's a fight to the death.
Now, just saying that may turn many of you off. You don't want to read about teens fighting. It's too grotesque or violent. That's what's so amazing about this book. It's the reason I had to read it. How could Collins make this appropriate and still have the kids kill each other? The question had to be answered, and I refuse to answer it here in this blog. Read it. Just know that it was not at all what I had expected. I figured it had to be horribly violent, but Collins is amazing at capturing the story without turning off the reader. (Though I'm sure many a teenage boy would love more gore filled details.) Which brings me to another point: this is a fantastic book for boys and girls alike. Yes, the protagonist is female, but the elements of hunting, survival and fighting could easily suck boys into the story.
The characters are incredibly believable. I had no problem thinking that Katniss was a hunter or that her talent lay in her bow and arrow. Even the little bit of a love story (No, that's not the focus, thank goodness.) wove itself intricately into the rest of the story. From the strange people who live in the capital who don't understand what life is really like outside, to the avoxes--captured rebels maimed for their rebellion.-- to Greasy Sae down at the Hob-- a local underground trading center, to the other children chosen to fight, Collins's characters jump off the page. We feel for them. We don't want them to be punished for hunting outside the perimeter. We love when Katniss forms and alliance with Rue, a twelve year old from District eleven. We hate The Careers-- kids from those districts who have the resources to train their children for the games-- kids who usually win because of their prowess and strength. We even pity Haymitch, the drunk former games winner and Katniss's mentor.
There's so much more I could say. I could go on about the story line, but then you wouldn't have to read it, and I don't want that to happen. I could speak of it's ties to governmental control books like Orwell's 1984. Big Brother is always watching! I could talk of sacrifice for family, young people taking responsibility before their time, unrequited love, or brewing rebellion, but these are all themes you will see when you pick up a copy for yourself.
Don't forget, don't just buy The Hunger Games. It's Sequel, Catching Fire is out as well and the third, Mockingjay, comes out this summer. You can bet you'll see them on my gem shelf eventually.
I think I'll end today with a question or two: What parts of the book made you the most angry? Which character did you identify with most? And lastly, what would be your strategy to win the games if you were chosen? (Note, you can have no special training other than the skills you possess at this very moment.)-- Me? I'd die for sure.