Dear readers of the blog,
Recently, I finished reading The Hunger Games, a 374 page dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins, published in 2008. Suzanne Collins is the author of numerous Y.A books, her most popular ones being The Hunger Games trilogy. This novel has accepted many awards throughout the years, such as, The Hal Clement Award, The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award, Cybils Award for Fantasy & Science Fiction, and The California Young Reader Medal. The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy of fantastic novels. It is preceded by the second and third books Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. I chose to originally read this book due to its increasing popularity, and my curiosity over the plot. My older sister had also read so I thought I would give it a shot. Since my first time reading it, I am pretty sure I have completed it twelve times, because I love it so much. When reading this book, I find myself isolating myself for hours during the day so I can keep reading all day.
The Hunger Games is about a 16 year old girl named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss lives in a country called Panem, which is the ruins of “a place once called North America.” The country is divided into twelve extremely poor districts, each specializing in a different type of trade. These districts are run by the Capitol, a place that governs the districts and runs a very strict dictatorship. The citizens of the capitol live in a material world corrupt with immense amounts of money and high levels of superficiality. Katniss lives in District 12: the mining district. Each year, the capitol hosts a televised show called “The Hunger Games.” This consists of one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 being placed into an arena to fight to the death. The winner, gets showered in riches and will return back to their district to a luxurious life.The losers, die. This year (the 74th annual Hunger Games), Katniss is chosen to go into the arena, along with the male tribute, Peeta Mellark. Katniss finds herself in a situation where she is faced with not only her own mortality, but the lives of others. Katniss goes to great lengths to preserve her own life, but will it be enough?
Something I thought that the author did very well was create emotional attachments and deep relationships between the reader and the characters. For example, Suzanne Collins made the reader have such a connection to the main character Katniss, that I realized that while I was reading, that I was extremely nervous as she was lifted into the arena. This may have been because I was so invested in the novel, but I had to consciously remind myself that I was still sitting in my safe, quiet bedroom, not about to fight to the death with 23 other teenagers. The author also developed such a deep relationship between the reader and another tribute from district 11, Rue. She was chosen at only twelve years old, and was exceptionally small for her age. The author starts by having Rue talk about her difficult life back in her district. The reader is introduced to Rue, the oldest sister in a large family, fiercely protective of her sibling, lover of music, and a definite underdog to the games. She seems like the sweetest girl and I don’t know about everyone else who read this book, but I was secretly hoping that Rue would win the games over Katniss. After Rue *spoiler alert* was speared through the abdomen and very sadly and dramatically died, I was heart broken. I have read this book twelve times and everytime I read it I still hope that that part of the story has magically changed, so that she wouldn’t die. I believe that it takes a great writer to be able to create such deep-rooted emotional attachments and relationships between a fictional character and the reader.
One of the many themes of the novel “The Hunger Games,” centers around the extremes people will go to for entertainment. The people of the capitol find the Hunger Games as less of a gruesome fight to the death, but as a platform for entertainment and something to be celebrated, and force the district to view the games and treat them like a sporting event. Many of the citizen gamble and bet on who the winner will be like you would in a horse race. They truly don’t see anything wrong with watching innocent children die just for the fun of it all. Even though we do not live in a nation with a psychopathic dictator as a president, this country sometimes goes to extremes for entertainment also. For example, a show called “Kid Nation” aired in 2007 was canceled soon after its debut, because of reports of “being cruel to its child contestants.” This show was about 40 kids ages 8-15 who were placed in a western city for 40 days without any adult supervision, to see how they would survive on their own. They were expected to form a community and do everything for themselves during this time. This shows that humanity’s need for entertainment can sometimes be overwhelming, both in “The Hunger Games”, and in real life.
I wish that the author included more information about some of the characters. I felt that some of the tributes lacked personality and having more information about them personally would have given the plot less holes. For example, the “career” tributes are the tributes (usually from districts 1,2, and 4) that have trained for the games from a young age, and planned to volunteer. I thought that getting to know their ruthless character would be interesting, but by the end of the book, all I really knew about them were their names and who they killed during the games, and their districts. I think that if the author included just a small glimpse into their tribute interviews, it would go a long way in terms of getting to know them. This would have given the reader a sense of knowing them more personally, like we did for characters like Katniss and Rue. This would have also helped us have a deeper connection with Katniss, knowing what she was truly up against so we could sympathise with her and put ourselves better into her shoes.
A excerpt of the book that I feel was very well written is when Katniss is first lifted into the arena, and has sixty second before she is allowed to get off of the platform.
“Sixty seconds. That’s how long we’re required to stand on our metal circles before the sound of a gong releases us. Step off before the minute is up, and landmines blow your legs off. Sixty seconds to take in the ring of tributes all equidistant from the Cornucopia, a giant golden horn shaped like a cone with a curved tail, the mouth of which is at least twenty feet high, spilling over with the things that will give us life here in the arena. Food, containers of water, weapons, medicine, garments, fire starters. Strewn around the Cornucopia are other supplies, their value decreasing the farther they are from the horn. For instance, only a few steps from my feet lies a three-foot square of plastic. Certainly it could be of some use in a downpour. But there in the mouth, I can see a tent pack that would protect from almost any sort of weather. If I had the guts to go in and fight for it against the other twenty-three tributes. Which I have been instructed not to do.” (p.179)
I think this passage of writing is so well-written because as a reader, you can literally feel Katniss’s mind racing. The short sentences and quick observations give off the illusion that Katniss is panicking, which she probably is. You can feel her nervous anxiety starting to creep up, and almost want to go out into the arena to help her. This was a very smart tactic that the author chose to use.
I would have to rate this book a definite 10 out of 10. This is among my favorite books, and would recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian and action-packed, adventure novels, or one you just want to get so hooked on that you can finish it in a day.