Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: The Hunger Games

This week is Hunger Game week on my blog! With Catching Fire hitting theatres this Friday, I'm devoting every post to my favourite series. 

I've started a re-read of the series in anticipation of the new movie. I've been waiting a year and a half for my favourite book in the series to hit the big screen, and now that it's so close, I knew it was time to finally do the re-read I've been wanting to do since the first movie came out. So I watched The Hunger Games, then started to devour the series. And since I haven't had a chance to review these books yet, what better time than now!

The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: September 14, 2008
Hardcover, 374 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

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.

Imagine a world where the government forced 24 children to fight to the death. That's the world Katniss Everdeen lives in. Panem - a futuristic United States where the Captiol has the only say. Divided into twelve districts, Panem has more rules than ever since an uprising 74 years ago threatened to destroy everything the Captiol had put in place. The Captiol has reminded citizens they're in charge by holding The Hunger Games, a game where two tributes, a boy and a girl, are chosen from each of the twelve districts to compete in a horrible televised fighting match where only one will come out alive. In one swift sacrifice, Katniss finds herself separated from her family, her best friend, Gale, and in an arena unprepared for what she must do to survive.

Collins creates an entire new world, describing it in great detail with little resemblance to our Earth now. Each district is in charge of a different aspect of living, District 12, Katniss's district, is in charge of mining. They are the outer most district and therefore the poorest and it's unlikely one of them could win the games. Although the world is different, the way its run is unsettlingly similar to ours. We are ruled by the government and the power of money and greed. Some people will do whatever needs to be done to achieve fame and fortune. The Hunger Games takes this further by involving the nation's children while the rest of the world allows this to happen. The scariest part is that it seems like something that could actually happen in the future. By putting children in this arena and turning it into something that everyone needs to participate in, and those who are poor need to put their names in more in order to survive the year, citizens will obey as much as possible in fear of worse things happening. Katniss does not go into the games set on rebelling, but she does it naturally, hating the Captiol and what it does to the world just like most everyone else. She does not want to kill, she simply wants to survive. The way humanity works for some people os amazing. Even though Katniss is in this arena where she knows she won't survive unless everyone else dies, she still does not go around killing people. Instead, she does what she has to do to survive, she becomes allies with a young girl, and she finds Peeta, the boy from her district that saved her when she was a little girl and may be in love with her, when she knows there's a chance she can save him. 

Katniss is the perfect female heroine. She is brave and strong but at the same time she is still a teenager and therefore makes mistakes like the rest of us. She has betrayed yet loved, fought and killed yet saved and enlightened. She has always only known one life, a life of survival and fear of what will come next. In the arena, she learns what she's made of. She escapes her shell and does what she has to do to survive. She doesn't see how other people see her, but throughout the book she learns more about those around her and those she left behind. She is told to play up her relationship with Peeta, something that was sprung up on her right before she had to enter the arena. She makes the effort, knowing it will save her, if not both of them, from the death around the corner. The romance between them is swoon worthy. Peeta is desperately in love with her, but Katniss doesn't know how she feels. At first, it's all for the cameras, but we all know throughout the game, she falls more and more for him. It's heartbreaking and endearing and I knew the minute they kissed the first time, that it would not end up just for the cameras. Some people are convinces she belongs with Gale, but there was never a doubt in my mind that she was meant for Peeta. 

The Hunger Games is beautiful in its brutality. War and death linger around every corner and the words and events will shock and destroy you. But there is always hope, love, and family to make the world seem like a better place. This series started the dystopian craze. Many have tried to recreate the feeling of living in Panem, but not many have succeeded. The writing is wonderful, the plot is terrifying, and the characters are memorable. This book will go down in history for a good reason and it's certainly one to be added to everyone's to-read list. 

“And while I was talking, the idea of actually losing Peeta hit me again and I realized how much I don't want him to die. And it's not about the sponsors. And it's not about what will happen when we get home. And it's not just that I don't want to be alone. It's him. I do not want to lose the boy with the bread.” 

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