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 is forced to represent her district 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (from Amazon)
Series: The Hunger Games (you’re here!) | Catching Fire | Mockingjay
I put off reading the Hunger Games trilogy for YEARS, mainly because I’m one of those people who want to read a book in opposite proportion to how many other people love it. Everyone went NUTS over this series from the get-go, and for some reason that meant I didn’t want to read it. It’s almost like if I didn’t discover a thing first, I didn’t want to know about it! Which is hilarious, because usually when I DO finally read the thing I didn’t want to read because it was “too popular,” I end up loving it. So.
The Hunger Games wasn’t, however, AS GOOD as I was expecting it to be. Well, how could it? Anything that’s hyped that much and salivated over by, like, freaking EVERYONE just can’t be as good as it’s been built up to be. It’s impossible!
Even though it wasn’t as fantastic as I assumed it’d be, it was still pretty darned good. It took me a while to get into it– the beginning is kinda slow, and the sentences have a weird rhythm that kept throwing me off. I also found myself very hostile towards the Peeta-Katniss romance because I didn’t think it was all that romantic that Katniss was forced to be in love with Peeta AND Peeta himself was very annoying, what with his “oh I’ve loved you for forever but I never said” and “You do love me back even though it should be kind of obvious that you don’t because of how Haymitch said to play to the sponsors and you’re too busy running for your life and everything to think of romance.” HOW HARD IS IT TO SAY SOMETHING, PEETA. OF COURSE SHE’S PLAYING TO THE CAMERAS, PEETA. Holy cheese did that piss me off. I didn’t trust him, either; he could so easily have been faking it as well and thus deliberately playing with Katniss’ emotions, and that’s not a cool thing for a romantic hero to do. On the other hand, Katniss isn’t the most reliable of narrators, and so he COULD have been legit after all.1
By the end of the book I was actually really pissed off, and it took me a while to calm down enough to want to read the next book in the series. Actually, and this is kind of funny, but I read some non-spoilery reviews for Catching Fir that said it wasn’t the best book in the series, and that made me want to read it more than anything else. lol, right?
So, what did I like? I liked the dystopian world. You don’t get a whole heap of details of what it’s like to live in Panem (although what you DO get is infodumped every two pages and it’s almost always horrifying), but it was enough to interest me and keep me reading. I LOVED the classical Roman/GReek references, most of which were rather cleverly referenced.2 I also really liked Katniss, for all that her POV was annoying.
I liked that she wasn’t just a stereotypical “strong female character.”3 Yes, she uses weapons and kicks butt, but she does it in a way that stays true to her original personality. She doesn’t suddenly become Action Katniss, Now with Guns. She’s still Katniss-from-the-block, and that shows even after she kills people and sees others killed. I especially liked that she was vulnerable and had trouble figuring things out,4 but that she didn’t let that or her emotional instability from keeping her from surviving/saving Peeta. She’s as realistic as a dystopian heroine could be, and always in a way that made me want to root for her. Yay Katniss!
It’s not a perfect book by any means, but I can see why people love it so much. And now that I’m (as of writing this review) halfway through the third book, I can see why people were so obsessed with the series as a whole. It’s got romance and action and thriller-y things, and of course the dystopian elements are always fun! Maybe the writing is a bit annoying, depending on your tastes, but it’s good enough to have made me want to read the rest of the series. That’s a pretty tough accomplishment, I think.
If you’ve put off reading The Hunger Games for whatever reason, I think I can safely say that– if you’re interested in the genre, at least– you’ll enjoy reading it. I don’t think that it’s the sort of book that’ll make people who only read political non-fiction books love it, for instance, but anyone who likes YA or dystopias or even romance would.
Read: March 23, 2012
I joined up at thecapitol.pn last week, and I ended up in District 4! Which is a lot more exciting if you actually knew anyone from D4, which you don’t really get to do until book no. 2. But anyway, check it out:
- and then I saw the movie and Josh Hutcherson’s adorable little face and I was like FUCK, okay, now I like Peeta and he was totally legit. ↩
- the cleverness gets lost somewhere between books 2 and 3, though. ↩
- a trope I have a lot of problems with, anyway. ↩
- this changes with book 2, where she figures NOTHING out. ↩