Feb 18, 2012

Book Report: The Hunger Games trilogy


Warning: these books are highly addictive! If you pick one up and you have the other two at hand, be prepared for several very short nights! Or in my case if you're discovering your new Kindle be warned... when you reach the final page of The Hunger Games you will see the following:
"You've finished. Before you go...
(...)
More by this author
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games)"
I dare you to NOT click on the link to Catching Fire! When all you want is just a glimpse into how things proceed... and it's just a couple of bucks... what's the harm? And it's downhill from there... And repeat said proceedings once you reach the end of Catching Fire.... I think I read all of them in 3-4 days? Dunno, was a week ago and they all just kind of melded into each other! (they're also part of the reason I've been missing from the blog-o-sphere, too busy reading!)


I think I'm a bit late to the party with these, but just in case anyone reading this doesn't know what they're about: The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins is the story of 16 year-old Katniss Everdeen who lives in the post-apocalyptic world in a country called Panem, which used to be the US of A (no mention is ever made in the book of the fate of the rest of the world). Power has shifted from the East Coast to the Rockies, where the Capitol is located. This technologically advanced city produces nothing but lives off of the resources funnelled to it by the 12 enthralled Districts which form the rest of the nation. Each District produces one type of product (fruit/veggies, fish, clothes, weapons... Katniss lives in D12, the Appalachian coal country). There used to be a 13th District but they got wiped out as part of a retaliation for a rebellion which took place roughly 75 years before our story. As a reminder of the Capitol's power over the rest of the country, and on-going punishment for that rebellion, every year each District must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games... think gladiators in Rome's Circus Maximus turned into reality TV. Only one will come out alive, crowned with glory and a gift of food to their district during the following 12 months. I won't give away any more of the plot (for details you can click on the link in the name above) so as not to spoil anyone.

So, NOT a cheerful tale. People living in poverty? Check. People being forced to kill one another? Check. People being treated like slaves? Check. Abuse of power? Check. Death and Despair? Check.

BUT...

Hope? Check! Love? CHECK! Inspiration? Check. Heroism? Check. Selflessness? Check! Thrills and adventure? Check!

I was absolutely enthralled by these books, couldn't put them down! Absolutely loved the first (rebellious hand holding poisoned fruit? brilliant!), was intrigued and very much enjoyed the second (kept wondering what form the punishment would be as I was sure her efforts were doomed from the start) and in spite of the format changing drastically and things not ending the way I would have liked, I also found the third to be excellent (loved the choice of victim for that final arrow). Although had I read them further apart in time (as each one came out for example), I probably would have been more frustrated by the anti-climactic final quarter of the third book. It was heart-wrenching (ahhhh, the futility of war!) and oh so sad... and finally bittersweet. But I don't see how else one should feel after three books full of death and despair and revolution? War is messy and ugly and no one who comes through the other side does so unscathed, and these books do an excellent job in showing us that! Problem was the final bits are much too rushed, kind of felt like she just wanted to wrap things up asap... perhaps if she hadn't lingered so long on the training bits in 13 earlier on?

If you have read these books I recommend you head over to Pop Classics for a very interesting take on them: digging into Roman themes in the books (the Games, the names of several characters). Spoilers abound so be warned if you haven't read them yet!


Finally, next month we get to see how all this plays out on the big screen! Well, at least the first volume: The Hunger Games.


Starring the brilliant Jennifer Lawrence. I thought she was excellent in Winter's Bone a few years ago, an I'm really looking forward to her take on Katniss! :o)


Of course being an adaptation I'm sure quite a bit will have to be left off the screen and on the page... I wonder how fans of the book will feel? I almost always prefer the books to their cinematic counterparts, but I have been known to forgive and forget certain artistic licences taken by screenwriters and directors when bringing a complicated and lengthy tale to life. In this case I think they'll probably tone down the violence (it's one thing to read about a nest of wasps dissolving some people, it's another to see it!), and they might have some trouble with the outfits... what I'm most worried about is Katniss herself. Since the books are mostly in first person narrative, we are privvy to her thoughts as well as to how she presents herself to the public eye. But on screen we'll just see/hear the outside version of Katniss, and she can be a nasty piece of goods! So I'm counting on Jennifer Lawrence to be able to get past that and make her relatable and likeable! For more wondering about what might be left out or not from the films, great article here on io9!

Damn! I just noticed on that imdb page that I have to wait a month more, doesn't come out in Spain 'till April 20th! grrrrr....

Have you read these books? What did you think? Looking forward to the movie?

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out! :)

    I have to re-read the first book for a conference paper soon, and I've only bought the first one and not the other two (I borrowed them the first time) - I'm really curious to see whether they're as addictive the second time around! I'm hoping for fewer late night now that I know what happens, but I'm guessing they'll still be pretty compelling!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oooh, I knew I could count on you...I've been wondering about these books and whether or not they are worth a read. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)