*Not My REAL Bookshelf

*Not My REAL Bookshelf

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"The Hunger Games", by Suzanne Collins -- A STUDY ON A SERIES, PT. 1/3

Most of you by now have at the very least heard of the phenomenon that is The Hunger Games. This novel by Suzanne Collins and its sequels have engendered such a tremendous buzz, that Hollywood felt the need to stick their own fingers into the popular pie and generate a film series based on the trilogy. While I have enjoyed the films most ferociously, that is not why I'm here today. We all know that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie, and this case is no exception.

My first knowledge of the story came from my then twelve-year old Mini Munchkin, who insisted that I simply HAD TO read this! Since her literary tastes in those days typically ran more towards the Junie B. Jones set, I was reluctant to take her advice on the subject. To be perfectly honest, it sounded godawful -- children being chosen by lottery to fight to the death for entertainment, like some sick and twisted reality show?? I was appalled. It wasn't until after her thirteenth birthday party, which consisted of taking her to see the movie in the theater the day it was released, that I finally saw the light. I positively devoured The Hunger Games, which took me approximately 3.87 hours to do, and quickly followed up with the other two tomes in the series. I've been utterly addicted ever since!

Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen-year old girl living in a dystopian wasteland once known as the United States. It is now known as Panem. She shares her life with her little sister Primrose, and their mother. Their father was the victim of a mining accident, and that one event has served to shape their lives in ways that will come to decide the future of every citizen of their nation.

The ruling city of their homeland, better known as The Capitol, has decreed that one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts will be offered up as Tribute in an annual event called The Hunger Games. The Capitol citizens view this monstrous affair as the last word in entertainment -- the rest of the nation has no choice but to follow along with these Games in order to preserve the lives of them all. As fate would have it, Katniss winds up taking her sister's place in order to spare her from a terrible death. The boy chosen to accompany her is Peeta Mellark. Peeta is the person who quite literally saved her life years before, though they have never spoken to each other before. The tale truly begins with their journey into the arena, to fight to the death with twenty-two other Tributes from the other districts.

After a dizzying trip to The Capitol and a round of spectacular makeovers, the Tributes are prepared for what they are about to face. Interviews, strategies, training, and subterfuge collide to create a powder keg of emotion, hubris, and fear. Little by little, we come to know these kids and the forces driving them. Once their time in the arena begins, only one can emerge victorious, and it is the fear of letting down young Primrose that drives Katniss forward into survival.

Fighting off injuries and the elements proves to be a Herculean task for most of those who survive the opening moments at the Cornucopia, where all of the supplies are stored before the Tributes arrive. Each day brings death, and often the nights do as well. After the calamitous losses suffered on all sides, Katniss and her district partner are eventually forced together into a pact to survive the Games. The difficulties they face as they carry on toward the ending are both harrowing and grave. By the end, the showdown is so brutally disheartening that it left me breathless with horror. Imagining my own children being left to such a fate is the kind of thought that keeps me awake at night.

Throughout the novel, Katniss' journey into a jaded sense of enlightenment keeps the reader guessing start to finish. Her actions as she comes to realize the depth of the deception they have faced has consequences that are incendiary and far-reaching. By the time I reached the conclusion, I was so intrigued that I could barely concentrate on day-to-day life. I simply HAD TO continue the saga and learn the fate of the so-called "star-crossed lovers of District Twelve".

All in all, I was swept away by the storytelling elements of this book. Collins' simple prose and powerful imagery made for one hell of a good read. The immediate appeal reminded me quite a lot of the Harry Potter saga, another set of tales yet to be covered in this particular blog. Anyone who skipped the books in favor of the films has done themselves a grievous disservice. There is so much more to this trilogy than can be properly addressed in the condensation process of turning a book into a screenplay.

Rating: ★★★★★


  1. Aggg! I lost my comment!
    I haven't read the books, but have seen the movies. I agree that movies aren't usually as good as the books that they are based on, but I usually can separate the two (trying to avoid the letdown). I don't think I'm in the intended audience for the either book or movie, but my granddaughter talked me into it. I have to admit that I liked the movies. thanks for the book review!

    1. Thank you, Pat! You never fail to put a smile on my face.