I refused to read this book at first. Everyone was excited about it, and hyping the story, and saying how great it is to read about children killing each other (my ignorant assumption) that I was turned off from it. My sentiments towards this book back then was similar to how I felt about The Game of Thrones last year, when each person on the metro was glued to a copy of it.
Books that are too hyped and too talked-about turns me off. It makes me see them more as a trend than a really good story that has spell-bounded everyone who glimpses at it. But for some reason, I am always drawn to read them; though it is not of my own volition that this occurs. It is some force outside my being that draws me to Barnes & Noble and makes me pick up the talked-about book, buy it, and read it. Such was the case with The Hunger Games.
One fine Wednesday, I took it upon myself to venture into my favorite Barnes & Noble store and torture myself with indecision before dragging myself home. While perusing the shelves trying to find a novel that will grab-me-and-not-let-go-until-done, I was ambushed by a bookseller who raved about The Hunger Games fanaticism before dragging me over to the “best sellers” section where she pulled a copy of the novel, shove it into my unwilling hands, and commanded me, “Read!”
And so I read.
That is, after she chattered about how this is the best time to read the book since the movie will be out on Friday and that I would love it and will be hooked as soon as I begin. I replied with an unconvinced, “Yeah, sure,” to which she nodded before moving on to find another customer to ambush. I proceeded to checkout.
As I waited for my train, I scanned the book and read the first line. Nothing captivating but since I had the novel in my hands, my curiosity began to build and I became impatient to see what the hype was about. I got past the first paragraph and proceeded to the next and the next and the next. An hour later, I realized that I was half-way home, still reading, and unable to put the book down.
I was hooked.
How could I not? The story is damn good and the pacing is great. The story builds gradually, carrying the reader through the life of the protagonist, Katniss, letting the reader fully understand her, her community, her society. At first, I found the pace of the story to be a bit slow but this is done to give the reader a strong sense of the protagonist and also to ensure that the reader understands what type of society Katniss resides in. The development of Katniss was well done. She is unforgettable. I apologize for going on like this about her when I haven’t even given a brief about the story but Katniss is one of my favorite female protagonists. She jumps out at you as soon as you begin to read and stays with you after you have finished.
But anyways, here’s the low-down on the story.
It’s basically about a girl, Katniss Everdeen (the bad-ass), who lives in the future, totalitarian, post-apocalyptic America which is then called Panem, and how she survives the Hunger Games, a sadistic event devised by the Capitol (the government) to remind the people of the Districts (similar to states) that they lost when they first rebelled. Children are randomly selected to participate in the Hunger Games and must fight to the death. The last one standing is crowned victor. Two children are chosen from each District, a boy and a girl. Katniss is poor and has taken over as the head of the family after her father died and her mom fell into a deep depression that rendered her helpless, for a while. To support her family, Katniss turned to hunting. Good thing she did because those hunting skills came in handy while she participates in the Hunger Games.
I agree, along with everyone else, that this is a great novel. It has kept me up late at night saying things like “wow,” “damn,” “what the f#&k?!” I went through various emotions while reading. Sometimes it got so intense that I had to put the novel aside and remind myself to breathe and that it’s just a story.
Not only is this story entertaining, but it’s also informative. I see it as a social commentary on the type of society that we all live in today. Though it may not seem totalitarian, I believe that the portrayal of the people who live in the Capitol was a critique of the superficial concerns of some people today. The concerns of today seem to be more about appearances than things that are worthwhile.
While reading, I couldn’t stop thinking of novels like 1984 by George Orwell (because of the totalitarian government, “Big Brother is watching,” and the need to rebel and fight against those constraints) and Lord of the Flies by William Golding (this popped into my head when I began to read the Hunger Games scenes simply because it’s children being forced into “adult” situations (situations that many adults could not face themselves); the children had to face the harsh, basic dilemma of “kill or be killed; how do I survive”).
Though entertaining, The Hunger Games is a hard book to read once you understand what it’s really about and the dynamics of the society in which it is set. It makes the stomach flip-flop in uncomfortable ways. It is unsettling.
- May the odds forever be in your favor… (lesliedouglas.wordpress.com)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – review (guardian.co.uk)