Next up: “The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire”, and “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins.
I hesitated over reviewing this series, not because I didn’t like it, but because… well, it’s so incredibly mainstream and well-known. What can I say that hasn’t been said a billion times over? But I guess I want to build a portfolio. If you agree with my opinions on books you’ve read, then perhaps you’ll consider picking up books that I’ve read and you haven’t.
In a dystopian future, the USA has been repartitioned into districts, 1-12, under the complete control of the Capitol and President Snow. Every year, this nation of Panem holds a gladiatorial spectacle called the Hunger Games, in which two young people– one male and one female– are chosen at random from each district and made to compete in a deadly ‘game’ of combat and survival. If the arena doesn’t kill you, one of the other Tributes will, until there is only one child left.
Katniss Everdeen is preparing for another Reaping in District 12, the first Reaping in which her little sister, Primrose, is eligible. But Katniss is more worried for her friend Gale– Prim’s name is only in the bowl once, but Gale’s is in there over a dozen. And yet… the unthinkable happens, and Prim is chosen. Horrified and desperate, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place.
In this single instance, Katniss is thrust not only into the sadistic Hunger Games, but also a dangerous political game, because unrest has been brewing in Panem after seven decades of Hunger Games and repression. And the revolution may have just found its mascot in Katniss Everdeen. But all Katniss really wants to do is to survive, and possibly to help Peeta– the male Tribute from District 12, the baker’s kind son, the boy who had saved her life years ago–survive the Games as well.
Honestly, I think that if you watch the movies it is just as good as reading the books. The books do, certainly, have some extra explanations and small world-building threads, but by-and-large, the movies did a fantastic job. Also I think the music is lovely in them, so if nothing else, listen to the soundtracks while reading.
These are pretty emotional books. They are incredibly gripping, so I advise you to buy the box set of all three, or risk the agony of waiting until you can get the next one. Also perhaps keep a couple Kleenex on hand, because you can imagine from the summary that there is quite a bit of character-death going on in the series.
The portrayal of characters is fantastic in these books– there were so many that I really liked, and you feel for every hardship they go through. They are all so real and nuanced (Haymitch. Anyone who thinks he’s just a drunk is not paying attention). I really liked Katniss– her practicality, her love of her sister, her struggle with the games as well as the Games. In the later books, I really liked her struggle with PTSD and her unwanted celebrity.
Read the books, watch the movies, do both… But definitely get to know this story. It’s worth it.
Uh, violence. Yep, definitely violence. Torture.