Wednesday, January 18, 2012

the hunger games


For years, I've seen The Hunger Games series on the bookshelves of libraries and Barnes & Nobles. Thinking they were geared for an audience much younger than me, I never gave them a shot. But this year, I came home from Greece to find that my whole family had either read them or was in the process of reading them. If four very different people, all of whom are over the age of 18 (my constantly reading mom, my rarely reading dad, my 24-year-old sister, and my 19-year-old brother) can enjoy them, they must be pretty good, right?

If you don't know the story, here's a plot summary of the first book courtesy of Goodreads:
"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 Primrose, 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. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love."
It's been awhile since a book captured my attention and held it so well. Short enough and quick enough to finish in a couple of days, I was completely absorbed in the world of Panem in that week or so it took me to finish the three books. The plight of the districts is absorbing and so are the main characters- archer and hunter Katniss Everdeen, her best friend and fellow hunter Gale Hawthorne, fellow tribute in the Hunger Games Peeta Mellark, and mentor and drunkard Haymitch Abernathy. 




This series is action-packed. I can't elaborate on the second two books without spoiling everything, but the first book, as you might assume, is entirely consumed by the Hunger Games. The twenty-four contestants roam the arena and kill each other off one by one. It's such an interesting plot for any book but especially for a YA book, which are sometimes a little more tame. For some reason, throughout the first few chapters I doubted that any of the kids would be killed. I thought maybe they'd band together, protest, escape . . . Obviously I didn't understand the cruelty of the Capitol at that point! Within minutes of the Games beginning, kids are killed off and Katniss is running for her life. It definitely sets the tone for the rest of the series.

Like so many YA books, there's a love triangle that splits readers into pools based on their favorite romance. Throughout the books, I was always rooting for Peeta, but I know there are plenty of Katniss/Gale shippers out there. Really though, I just felt sorry for both of them. Katniss can never seem to choose between them (which is understandable, she's got a lot going on in her life), and she toys with both their emotions by showing affection to whoever's around at the time (which is not understandable and just plain rude). 

The first book was by far my favorite and the second and third went a little downhill from there. But even then, I still really enjoyed them and was always interested enough to want to keep reading. This is a true case of plot trumping writing style, I think. I had a lot of little problems with the story and I didn't write down any quotes I particularly liked, but I'll always remember and enjoy the plot as a whole.



Anyone else a fan of The Hunger Games? Excited for the movie? It comes out in March and I can't wait to see how they've interpreted it.

And if you haven't read these books, give them a shot. And "may the odds be ever in your favor!" (Okay, that's one quote I liked, but it's really more of a slogan).


TITLES: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
PUBLICATION DATES: 14 Sept. 2008, 1 Sept. 2009, 24 Aug. 2010
VERDICT:
The Hunger Games: 4/5 stars.
Catching Fire: 3/5 stars.
Mockingjay: 3/5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I read those two summers ago (wow, was it really that long ago?), and I felt pretty much the same way about them. They totally sucked me in, but I felt like they went progressively downhill with each book. Mostly I felt like the author just wanted to meet her publication deadline and got lazy at the end of the last book. But the story was very original and, I agree, surprising in a YA novel. I don't think I'll ever re-read them, but I did enjoy them and I'm really excited to see the movie.
    They reminded me a little of the Uglies series. I can't remember which I decided I liked better.

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