Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Hunger Games

When it comes to books and movies that are overly hyped and all-the-rage, I'm usually one of the last people to jump on the bandwagon. I get around to them eventually, sometimes I'm just five or ten years late to the party. I'm the one to whom people will say in disbelief, "You mean you've never seen/read insert really popular-movie or book here?!"

For instance, Star Wars. I've never watched any of the movies. I only picked up the Harry Potter books last year. Twlight - nope.

With that said, I apologize for my extremely belated recount of my experience in reading The Hunger Games - but I just (finally) read the series.

When I started hearing about The Hunger Games every where I went, I wasn't among those clamoring for a copy. I didn't know what the book was about exactly (I didn't even know at the time that it was a trilogy.) All I knew was that it involved a war and post-apocalyptic world. Without knowing much else, I decided The Hunger Games could wait.

It wasn't until I saw the movie trailer that I knew I had to read this book. And of course, I had to read it before I saw the movie which was being release within a matter of days. That turned out not to be a problem - I read it in two days and saw the movie in the same weekend. Both the book and the movie lived up to the hype.

Collins leads us inside the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, which rose from the ashes of North America. We meet sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen in District 12, a world of poverty and fear of the ruling Capitol - a Capitol so cruel it sacrifices its children an Annual Hunger Games - a fight to the death in which only one can survive. The Hunger Games serve as a reminder, and punishment, of a previous uprising against the Capitol.

I was drawn in the moment Katniss volunteers to take the place of her twelve year old sister Prim in the Hunger Games. I read on with horror at the concept of a game in which 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 must fight and kill each other in an arena controlled by the Capitol. I shook my head in disgust at the way the tributes must play along with these games, smiling for the cameras, giving interviews and waving to crowds of Capitol citizens in order to win gifts of food and medicine to help them survive in the arena. Perhaps the most disturbing part of all was the way the citizens of the Capitol who treat the games and the loss of innocent children's lives as a source of entertainment.

Because The Hunger Games was targeted for young adult readers, I was skeptical. I expected nothing more than a mildly entertaining read, however, the entire book is suspenseful and full of action. From start to finish The Hunger Games is engaging. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Collins doesn't soften the story for younger readers. Collins does not dilute the issues of poverty and oppression. Her writing is straightforward - easy to read without being overly simple.

I had heard the follow up to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, was not as good. I had to wonder myself if it would live up to The Hunger Games' intensity. More on that later!

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