Why I Picked It: The hype, quite honestly.
Quick Take: In a dystopian future, North America is divided into 12 districts ruled by the Capital of Panem. As punishment for a rebellion 70+ years ago, each year a boy and a girl are chosen from each district to compete in the Hunger Games, a battle to the death for the entertainment of the Capital. When her 12-year-old sister is selected, our heroine Katniss Everdeen volunteers to go instead.
My Thoughts: Full disclosure, I spoiled myself for the ending of this book. I’d heard all this talk of The Hunger Games series, and didn’t quite understand the appeal, so I went on wikipedia and did a little skimming. Says my mother “you ruined it for yourself!” Maybe, maybe not.
First, Katniss is kickass. I don’t know how you could spoil yourself from loving her. She’s strong and tough and independent and loyal and smart and rebellious, and she takes care of her family–especially her little sister Prim. Personally, part of the appeal of The Hunger Games is that Katniss is the anti-Bella Swan, without being so dark she goes into Lisbeth Salander territory.
My mother read the books first, and said she could see why they were so appealing, since they are such quick reads. I noticed immediately that Collins wrote in the present tense, instead of the past tense, which increases the immersion factor.
I was reluctant to read the book because I wasn’t sure if I could get past the kids killing kids for entertainment premise. My teenage cousins read the books and loved them. One explained to me that while the world is very dark, the story itself is kind of inspiring. Another friend said no it’s completely dark and depressing but the books are so good you have to read them anyway.
The story isn’t finished, and perhaps I’ll be more in love with the trilogy as a whole. I liked the first book, but I haven’t crossed that threshold into obsession that so many of my friends have. I have some thoughts on the violence, but there are spoilers, so look below the jump.
I do love a heroine who has little interest in romance (so refreshing), doesn’t want to get married or have kids. I like that she’s rebellious without being a poser rebel, that she’s a fighter. and that her I-love-you-so-much-I’ll-die-without-you performance is indeed a performance (take note Bella Swan).
In reading, I also found myself thinking about the Harry Potter Alliance’s Hunger is #notagame efforts surrounding the release of the film. Did Collins do any research to write her descriptions of hunger? Are they accurate? Will these books increase our awareness of food insecurity, or make us more likely to help address those issue? Will Oxfam America or Mercy Corps or local food banks see an uptick in their donations? Probably not, which is too bad. Personally, I’ll be dropping off some canned goods when I pick up book #3 at the library. I’ve already started reading book #2.
The violence wasn’t as tough to handle as I expected. I certainly have no desire to see Cato’s death, and Rue’s hurt, but for the most part I was able to separate and skim the violent passages. They are also not as gory as the Kate Daniels books, or Now You See Me.
I also think it’s noteworthy that Katniss survives without really becoming a killer. Yes, she kills the District 1 boy, but it’s in vengeance for his killing of Rue. She finally ends Cato’s life, but this is a mercy killing. She survives the savagery without become a savage herself.