The Hunger Games

by - Sunday, March 18, 2012

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The Hunger Games 

 by Suzanne Collins

Once you read The Hunger Games, you have to talk to someone about it, because the emotions it causes are enormous and you must release them. That simple human quality, the need to let go of our emotions to someone, hopefully someone who will encourage and uplift us, is what has made The Hunger Games trilogy such a popular series among teens and adults. Collins was able to tap into this human quality and then also write it into the heroine, Katniss Everdeen.

There are a million reviews on this book, so if you are reading mine, I feel privileged.

Oh and this book discussion (yes discussion, not book review, you can find millions of reviews on the web) will include spoilers, so if you haven't read this book (go read it!) and don't want to know what happens (how could you not already know?) then stop reading.

Alright here goes...

About a quarter of the way through this book I thought Collins has to be crazy, I mean truly insane, like she might need medical attention. How could someone create such an extreme sci-fi world that puts innocent children into a habitat where they have to kill each other kids? And just in case that wasn’t enough, she created creatures and bio-weapons to help the killings along! Then I started thinking about Rome and the Colosseum, where they slaughtered children as entertainment. So at that point I looked online for other reviews and found an interesting one that discussed Collins' reasons for writing these books (check it out here), where she mentions watching coverage of the war and flipping back to reality TV.

So I started to see that Collins wrote a series that brought back important stories in history to make a point to a new generation – genius! That is why this book (and the other two books in the series) will continue to be read for years, maybe decades or more to come.

Since we are limited to only Katniss' view (an amazing feat, to write such a compelling story through a first person narrative) I feel that is where some of the anger over the books comes. We (fiction readers) are so used to some kind of third-person view to a story; a way into each character so we can feel like we are watching it all from a stage. But since Katniss is our storyteller, we are limited to her knowledge, and as the book goes on we see just how limited her knowledge is. I wanted to know more, so for this book I kept reading because I was walking this trial with her.

Some of the most compelling parts of the story came once Katniss was in the Capitol for training - when she first encountered the other tributes and watched them prepare for the Games. This is when the reality of the situation for our heroine really started to tug on my heartstrings. I am willing to bet these feelings were a direct result of the fact that Katniss also started to see the magnitude of the life and death situation she was in.

For me, another heart-touching moment was with Rue. Yes, the murder of Rue was ruthless and heart wrenching, but for me, the scene where Katniss and Rue are in the trees staying warm through the night hit deep. Katniss mentions how it reminds her of Prim. It was just a real moment, a human reaction. Here Katniss is fighting for her life and yet her emotions take her back home to a place where she is safe.

Another point, one that Collins wanted to make clearly, is the power of the media in our culture today. Once Katniss and Peeta are preparing for the Games, it becomes clear that the people of the Capitol see the Games as pure entertainment because that is how it is packaged for them (remember they don’t have a tribute fighting for his or her life; they are just watching a reality TV show). Although Katniss seems to take a while to catch on to the power of the media, Peeta catches on quickly. Near the end of the book the readers realize he has a talent of speaking in a way that attracts an audience, and that fact is not lost on President Snow and Panem’s media.