Book Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger_gamesYes, I admit, I hadn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy until, well, this past week.  I finished The Stand sometime on Thursday night, and needed something to read that wasn’t Stephen King… so I poked around on Amazon until I saw The Hunger Games, and realized that while I’d seen the movie, I hadn’t read the books yet.  And usually I’m the type to read the book WAY before the movie comes out!  (With the exception of Twilight.  I only read the books after the first movie came out because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I’ll hold back on my opinions on the Twilight series, haha.)  I was in the mood for something new to read, and I really did enjoy the movie version of The Hunger Games, so I sat down and read it.  And blew through it in a day and a half, and ended up signing up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited when I realized it would cost less than buying Catching Fire and Mockingjay combined!  (And once I’ve got some more experience with that, I’ll likely be reviewing that too!)  And then blew through most of Catching Fire.  And then I realized – hey, I should write about these books.  They’re good.  So, here’s part one of my review of the Hunger Games trilogy!  There will be spoilers.  You have been warned.

The Hunger Games

I knew the plot of The Hunger Games before I even opened the book – people living on Earth, in North America, in the far future, somewhat dystopian world, where every year the 12 districts of Panem (situated where the United States once was) sent up two tributes to participate in the Hunger Games.  And what are the Hunger Games, you ask?  Well, the Hunger Games involve a bunch of kids, ranging from 12-18 years old, fighting to the death until only one victor stands.  In the 74th Hunger Games, our heroine Katniss Everdeen shows extreme bravery when she volunteers to take the place of her younger sister Prim, who was chosen via lottery to be one of District 12’s tributes for the Games.  When her co-tribute is announced, Peeta Mellark, Katniss has a moment – it’s the best way I can think of to describe it – where she remembers when she first met Peeta, just after her father died.  She was scrounging for food to feed her family, and he “burned” some loaves of bread (and caught hell from his mom for doing so) and tossed them away so Katniss and her family could eat.  And that’s all Katniss can think about when she sees Peeta.

Anyhow, the rest of the book details how the pair are preparing for the games, how Katniss and Peeta are to play up the “star-crossed lovers” routine to earn themselves some sympathy and a lot of sponsors to ensure at least one of them survives the games.  And – big surprise – Peeta actually does have the feels for Katniss.  Big time.  And apparently always has.  And Katniss never realized it, and is all sorts of conflicted about it.  But their mentor, Haymitch (who annoys the crap out of me most of the time) encourages the lovey-dovey stuff, saying it’ll help them in the end.  The Games start, a lot of people die, and it’s pretty depressing and very gripping.  I couldn’t put the book down at this point.  The committee leading the Games decides to play a wild card, and says if two tributes from the same district are left standing at the end, they can both win.  At that point, Peeta’s likely in rough shape – Katniss isn’t sure, but she remembers hearing from some of the other tributes that he was seriously hurt and left for dead at some point.  When she realizes that both of them could live (it seems to me like she’s gotten rather attached to Peeta at this point, even though she doesn’t love him), she rushes to find him and ends up nursing him back to health, and the pair of them stick it out and fight their way to the very end, where they’re the only two left standing.

And of course, the Games committee says “LOL NOPE, changed our minds, only one can win!”  Katniss and Peeta come to the mutual conclusion that if both of them can’t win, then neither of them will – they’ll commit suicide together, with some poison berries.  This is one very small act of rebellion that has huge consequences for both of them in the future – just as they both put the berries in their mouths, the committee backpedals, says they both win, and they spit out said berries and absorb the fact that they didn’t die, they both won the games.

The suicide-by-berry thing will come back to haunt Katniss and Peeta, though…

I’m incredibly glad I picked up this book.  And I’m also incredibly glad I started to read it over the weekend – I pretty much read all through Friday afternoon, and most of Saturday too.  The book felt way more powerful than the movie – possibly because of how it’s written, possibly because it’s much easier for me to immerse myself into a book than into a movie.  Either way, I absolutely enjoyed it – and ended up jumping right into Catching Fire.  When I’m finished reading that one, I’ll review it as well.  🙂

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