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The Hunger Games

Book #3 (of 2012): The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

Okay so here it goes,
The book: The Hunger Games
The author: Suzanne Collins

There you got all the information, now go buy it. Forget the library, there’s a reason you’ll be the 98th person in the queue for the book, just buy it and read it and then pay it forward.

John Green says something wonderful in his book The Fault in Our Stars which completely applies to how I feel about The Hunger Games, “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” (Page 33) There, now you know why you must read this book, the world will not be fixed until you do.

I had heard about The Hunger Games, knew lots of people liked the book, knew there was a movie coming out, saw some gifs on tumblr…eventually I decided to see what all the hullabulloo was about. Then I remembered last year, one lunch hour at school a friend in my class had been reading this book and I picked it up to read the back/first few pages. Two chapters in and at the end of lunch hour she pried it from my hands and I never remembered the author to track a copy down in the library. Then all this ruckus started with the movie coming out and I went to the library to try and get a copy.
I was 99th on the list with 6 books in the city.
The next day I was at work and saw the softcover copies were on for 40% off so I decided “What the heck, I don’t normally buy books without reading them, but if I don’t like it, for this price, I can resell it off to one of those die-hard fans!”
Ya that ain’t happening…

So Friday, I bought it.
It’s Saturday. I LOVE it. I will keep it. In fact I’m gonna go buy hard copies of all three of the books and then give away my softcover version. That’s right GIVE away, I need to give someone the opportunity to read this book without charging them.

Basic spoilerLESS (that means no plot spoilers) summary:
The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic novel about North America, after, (wait for it) the apocalypse. (high fives for cap’n obvious there!) What remains of the continent is the Capital, Panem, and it’s outlying districts, of which there are twelve. Originally there were thirteen but years before the book takes place there was a rebellion among the districts against the capital and the capital struck back, destroying district 13 and leaving the other districts quite aware that they were little better than slaves. As a reminder that rebellion is a bad idea the Capital hosts the annual “Hunger Games”. In these Games each district sends in two “tributes”, a boy and a girl to compete in the arena in the capital. The twenty-four 12-18 years olds chosen through a draw are then put in an arena and forced to kill each other for the entertainment of the citizens of the Capital who watch through televised  broadcast off of the cameras that are hidden throughout the arena. The last tribute standing wins and (get this!) gets to live and be provided with food (because food is scarce in many of the districts and starvation is not uncommon). The story follows two of the tributes as they go from their district to as far as they can get in the Games.
**From here on I do not apologize for spoilers; consider yourself warned.**

I love Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is the female tribute from district 12 (the lowest of the districts) I love how we start seeing her vulnerable with Prim and with Gale while hunting with him, and then we see her possibly giving up her life to keep her sister safe. I love that she thinks, she’s clever, she’s a survivor. I like that she is so humble about her skills, they’re just there, they’re nothing to boast about but she’s confident in them; she doesn’t boast about them, but she’s well-aware of them. Somehow she manages to be so likeable while being unlikable and sullen. I like that she doesn’t give up and that when she has an opportunity to win with Peeta, she goes for it, even though he’s wounded and will slow her down and make her an easier target herself. She works so hard to treat him, she works for that broth and medicine from the sponsors. I like being able to watch her slowly get confused about how she feels for Peeta. As the reader, we’re sure she’s in love, but she is utterly confused… Also, before the games her delight about the dresses that district 12’s stylist, Cinna, creates for her makes her seem more girly and watching her slowly become (more or less) friends with him is also neat, we see that Katniss doesn’t trust without time and reason to.

Peeta Mellark is also a wonderfully thought out character. He’s utterly charming in the sweetest way possible. He loves Katniss, this is something we learn along with Katniss very suddenly and rather surprisingly during his pre-Games interview, but it’s something that once we know it, clicks into place and makes perfect sense. Of course Peeta loves Katniss! How could it have been otherwise!? But Katniss…does she love Peeta or Gale? Or either…? Peeta is open and real and sweet and yet in the Games he’s strategic and clever. He keeps Katniss safe by appearing to side with the “careers” (the term used for the tributes from the better cared for districts where the tributes are trained for the games as careers). Then, once he’s injured, he continues to think of her and worry about her. Once she finds him, all he wants is for her to survive, he’s doesn’t care if he lives Peeta just wants Katniss to win the Games. He is very humble and very caring even when it puts him into danger. We, as the reader, feel his pain at the end of the book when he realizes most of Katniss’ affection for him has been strategic, to keep herself (and partially him ) alive. We understand how hurt he is by this, he thought it was real, and Katniss herself is completely unsure if it is or not. Even through that “betrayal” by Katniss though, Peeta doesn’t get angry or bitter, he’s hurt, that’s obvious, but he’s not going to hate Katniss for it. That’s admirable.

I also feel that Haymitch deserves an honourable mention. He’s district 12’s only living previous Games winner (they’ve only ever had two though…) and is the town drunkard. He makes a fool of himself at the district’s “reaping” (the drawing of the tribute’s names in each district) and manages to stay drunk until Peeta and Katniss take a stand against it. As their “mentor” he’s a big factor in how things go for them in the arena. He arranges sponsors to send them gifts during the games (food, or medicine, something they might be needing) and he decides when the things get sent. When he sees them take a stand against his drinking I think it wakes something up in him. He realizes they haven’t given up on themselves and that they want a running chance in this so he agrees to stay sober (enough) to be of help to them and in all fairness, he ends up being a great help to them. Katniss and Haymitch don’t openly get along, but being very similar they understand each other. When he allows “gifts” to be sent her in the arena or withholds them, she is able to work out why they’re been sent or kept back. In this way they are able to strategize, and in the end, keep Katniss and Peeta alive.

All in all I’d give this book a 9 1/2 out of 10. It’s a wonderful book, but I didn’t cry. Now granted, I may have read it too fast, but as it stands, it didn’t catch my emotions the way some books do. Still a great book though! Well worth the read!

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult