A Realistic Image of the Future Or a Bad Nightmare?
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.
In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
(Backcover text.. I love that cover!)
Now I’m not going to say more about that, as I’m sure you have at least heard about this books(series). And I know that the third book is the thing on the web and this review a little late, but I care not.
You see, The Hunger Games and I go way back. What y’all don’t know, is that I’m always scrouging the bookstores for teh good books. I have to be very careful in what I buy, because I don’t have that much money. Well, back in 2008 I find a little book that I like the name of and it’s all alone in a corner. But the problem is, when I skim-read the first to chapters I’m like oh gods, boring! It reminded me of Matrix, which I never watch the whole movie. I only watch the parts in the Matrix. So, the beginning has me trying to forget the book. I avoid it for two years, nearly, until I find - believe it or not - awesome fake trailers about the series on youtube. It’s how I found TMI, so my curiosity spiked.
And guess what, I was right. Okay, don’t hurl a knife at me, the beginning was horrible. Katniss has me on my hackles throughout the whole time. She’s rather dull and I can see in her the things I’ve seen in other books about teenaged girls in danger, written by a middle-aged lady with a dozen of kids, loving husband and plenty of experience. (No offense to Collins!) So, Katniss’ voice does not please me and the book reveals itself to be one of those that begin slow-ly.
Luckily, Suzanne Collins has got me, even if Katniss doesn’t. As I read BOS (earlier review) before this, I’m gleeful about the difference, of how the books started. In BOS, the female lead has me reading the book and then I see the beauty in the writing. Here it’s the other way.
Because Katniss gets stronger. To me, it seems clear that she’s shut from people. She’s at her best in the woods, with a bow and an arrow and hunting. She’s best at survival and you could say, the Hunger Games are her games. As Katniss’ inner voice grows stronger and she grows into the boots(quiver) Collins has set out for her, she actually learns something! Yes, booyah, thank you! I like it how she’s definitely taking the opportunities as they’re thrown at her.
Also, Collins herself grows into the Hunger Games. She’s at her best at the Games themselves, not in the prefaces or - gods forbid - in the awful beginning chapters. But Katniss Everdeen? Collins, really? I mean..? It’s a plant, okay, it fits the story but...Katniss?
Bring out the red carpet, this paragraph is reserved for Peeta Mellark. He’s officially joined my list of awesome guy characters from books, such as Jace, Nick, Simon, Magnus...Okay, wiping the drool off now.
He’s sweet, check, he knows how to play the game, check, and wait for it, he acts for the camera, shows his feelings and lies better than the Joker himself! Of course, in the youtube trailers he was always played by Alex Pettyfer, so I liked him before grapping the book.
Except for this one little thing. Peeta?! Are you kidding me? Katniss, that I can deal with, even if it makes me shake my head, but Peeta? I have to constantly remind myself that this is a guy. A GUY. If there’s a fan or someone with more understanding out there reading this, tell me, what am I missing?
But still, he doesn’t kick ass as much as Katniss does. Here we finally have a guy protagonist, who does not have supernatural powers, but still feels the urgent need to protect his dream girl. And while he might have danced on the dangerous line between a one-dimensional character and a three-dimensional character, Collins’ writing saves the day. Also, because of the book being from Katniss’ point of view, we see only bits of him, as she is clearly not as understanding of him, as she is of the woods. What makes him a good character, is the fact that I liked him even before he’d made an entrance but, you never knew what he was playing at. At moments he’s so likeable I just wanted to pinch his cheeks. Then, he does something that makes you want to go for the pepper spray. Hm, good job Collins: you’ve made it so that even when Peeta is getting ready to kill the girl he loves, he’s still a teenager.
And then there were three. Or, well a maybe a little bit more characters that I felt like whooping over, but it sounded nice.
Prim’s the mandatory younger sister, whom Katniss loves. Except Peeta and whatshisface. Believe it, but I started to like her only when she got out of the picture and we got her from Katniss’ view. She’s not perfect, but Katniss’ love for her and the way she obviously cares for her is touching. Especially when she mixes her up with Rue, it was beautiful. I still feel that she is a little one-dimensional, but Katniss loves her and the Big K knows what she’s doing.
Her mother was charmingly portrayed and I felt both bad for her and pissed off at her. It’s clear she’s been suffering from some serious hearbreak, but it still doesn’t authorize you to leave your kids to tend for themselves. Katniss is what, twelve when her father dies and Prim is twelve, when Katniss volunteers for her. Now that’s devotion and love. I liked it how she had a backstory, that got revealed in bits and parts, told by other people. It made me hate her less and helped me see through the hard shell that Katniss had created for herself - because her mother couldn’t pull through.
I feel like all the other background characters would deserve their own little paragraphs, but I’ll only mention a few. One is that, Cato and Clove are so sweet. I know nothing about this fandom, but I’m betting my money that he volunteered only because she got chosen. Don’t the girls get chosen first?
Then there is a whole bunch of characters that are all portrayed beautifully. Here Collins shows her talent too. She reveals little by little, first by the first impression Katniss gets, then as she later thinks about that impression, and as she later made to face them again. It really proves a good writer, when you don’t want to let go of any character. Except the ones that are meant to die, but they’re just...meant to. Which bothered me. I would have wanted to know more about all the contestants. But now, it has been brought down to Katniss, Peeta and...you guessed it Gale. He’s not in the Games, yet we cannot get rid of him!
Gale is one of those characters that I just don’t like about. The very first moment they appear on page and I wish them gone. He seems to be written very simply, but maybe this will improve in the next books. I have to read all the other books too, as I’m now rooting for Peeta to get Katniss.
Back to Gale. He’s very normal. The ordinary version of the hunter. Written in many other books in many other variations. Some of the things about him that Katniss thinks about seem very absurd to me, but that may be because I just don’t like him. He seems dull in the way that he doesn’t have any supreme charasteric to grab on to. Katniss basically lulls over the same facts and then compares him to her. Peeta is her opposite, so I’m just going to go that way and stop hurting Gale.
The plot? Well, when you think about it, it’s nothing surprising, until you get to the Games. It’s all pretty guessable, but what makes it special is the way it’s written. Collins has this veil of mystery and desperation hanging over the place the whole time.
And when we get to the real thing, it’s an adrenaline rush all the way to the end. Booyah! And here Katniss shines, so Collins has really put everything into this. The only thing that I’ve been left to mull over is the way Katniss and Peeta are described kissing. Well, okay the circumstances are not the best first, but this a stranger. It’s a lie, and she practically has feelings for the hunter-boy back home. Which of course she won’t realize yet. And then they’re described kissing many times over. In a passing. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems sort of hustled. The ending’s very fast-moving and is over faster than the speed of light.
The ending lefts your heart beating, but. Collins moves pace and it shows in Katniss’ actions, as the reality kick in. For all of us. Peeta isn’t very pleased by the sudden change of Katniss’ mind and neither am I. We’ve already obtained what I think about that relationship, so I’m between love and hate with Katniss’s behaviour. It’s a little too sudden. .... but that’s all I’m going say about it. I just realised how detailed this text is, so the ending can be left at that.
Basically, this book rules because of Suzanne Collins. She clearly knows what she’s doing. Or does she? One of the things I’ve held against the Hunger Games is that in 1999, a japanese writer, Koushun Takami wrote a book called Battle Royale, in which forty-something high school students from Japan are transported to an island, where they have to kill each other. The transporting? Operated by the government, whose new student-control program it is. The movie made about the book has the same feeling in it - as I’ve never read the book. It has this feeling of terror, desperation, disbelief and most of all, adrenaline rush. What differs is, that in Hunger Games, I never flinched when somebody died. Collins seems to have made a book about killing people legally, made into a show, without the blood splattering off the pages. I’m kind of pleased, but yet, the romance is lacking too. But I’m so high on adrenaline I can’t think! But hey, is that Gerard Butler from Gamer-movie? I think I’m seeing the future here...
Which reminds me. One of the most shocking things is that, a review reflected inside the book is true: it makes you think. While the review was puzzled by that, I find it obvious. This might not be so surprising, if it happens in the future. I’m not saying I’d support it, but think about it. The history given to us in the book? Perfectly possible, no deadly T-viruses here. And that’s the scary part, or a part of it. It makes you think, what would you do? Would you climb in a tree, trying to clear of others and find water? Or would you put up a fire, even if a small one, during the first night? When there are still lots of blood-thirsty people out there. Except that they are not blood-thirsty. Because this is a good kind of book. The kind, which you can put down and bury under your bed, if you wish. Or will you think, learn and be kind to others? It might just be the perfect game plan...