Panem Et CircensesPosted: December 26, 2012
So I finally read “The Hunger Games.” I debated about whether I should review it or not; it’s been out for a while and is so popular that at this point a review of it is about as useful as one of Harry Potter. But I want to make a habit of doing the book review regularly (I’m trying to keep it on a weekly or at least bi-weekly schedule), so for what it’s worth, here’s what I think about “The Hunger Games.”
First of all, a quick synopsis, for those who are not familiar with it (but who isn’t, really?): It is set in a post-apocalyptic North America (now called Panem), which is divided into 12 districts and ruled by a totalitarian Capitol. There has been a rebellion in which all districts were defeated, and from then on, to remind the districts that they are at the Capitol’s mercy, a yearly event called the Hunger Games is held, in which 24 tributes – a boy and a girl aged from 12 to 18 from each district – fight to the death. Our protagonist, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to be a tribute to replace her younger sister, thus capturing the entire nation’s attention and unwittingly creating a revolution.
It’s a great series. I would compare it to Back to the Future, in the sense that it starts out with a fantastic concept and an awesome first movie/book, followed by two sequels that are not as great but very good too. Thought-provoking social commentaries aside, I think what I like best about these books is that they don’t have a perfect happy ending. They address the emotional and psychological scars these characters will have to carry for the rest of their lives, and how they learn to live with that.
On to the parts that I don’t enjoy quite as much: I appreciate a strong female protagonist, but I did get annoyed with Katniss a few times in the second and third book; I think there are too many scenes where she checks out mentally and just curls up feeling sorry for herself. I like the movie version of Katniss better – she talks less and does more. I don’t quite buy the central love triangle of Peeta – Katniss – Gale either. I mean, kudos to Suzanne Collins for making her books relatable to her audience – despite everything, Katniss is still just a teenage girl trying to choose between two guys – but I feel the romance slows down the story a lot, especially in the third book. The writing is a little too straightforward for my taste too. I don’t mind prosaic proses (my writing is often too flowery for its own good, and I’m trying to fix that), but I want a more distinct voice.
Finally, some quick thoughts about each of the book:
– “The Hunger Games”: my favorite. I watched the movie without having read the book first, and while I liked the movie well enough, I had a hard time buying into the story (plus my brain kept screaming “Battle Royale rip-off!!!”) Having now read the book, I liked the movie a lot more.
– “Catching Fire”: my least favorite. Up until the point the Quarter Quell (a special Hunger Games that occurs every 25 years) starts, I just wanted to tell the author to get on with it already. Then the Quarter Quell starts and the structure is almost too similar to the first Games, so it feels a bit repetitive to me.
– “Mockingjay”: this one moves faster, since it has more actions. And while I like the resolution (thank you, Suzanne Collins, for showing us that things won’t be just peachy after all that pain and suffering), I think it’s a bit rushed towards the end. But then I didn’t want more pages of Katniss being mentally disordered so I guess it’s OK.
So that’s my thoughts on “The Hunger Games”. And this is my attempt at a Katniss outfit (luckily what she would wear is pretty close to what I often wear myself) – I don’t have a mockingjay pin so my arrow pin will have to do.
Have you read the trilogy yourself? What do you think of it?
Sweater: J. Crew (thrifted), Jeans & Coat: Forever21
Pin: Etsy, Boots: thrifted (this old battered pair would make more sense for Katniss than my brand new one.)