Monday, 30 June 2014

The Hunger Games ~ A Review

I read these books on Kindle....but I did get this copy out of the library today
to read. Nothing beats a real-life book:-)

So I've finally read The Hunger Games. It took me a while to be allowed to read them, and even longer to decide if I actually wanted to read them or not. I'd heard so much about them, both good and bad, so I finally realized I was going to have to read them myself to find out what they were actually like. I won't go through the plot in too much detail.....
here's a basic synopsis.
It's set in a futuristic dystopian country called Panem, which used to be North America. Divided into twelve Districts where the people are poor and hungry, Panem is ruled by an all-powerful Capitol, wealthy and cruel. There used to be a District Thirteen but it was destroyed by the Capitol when the districts revolted. The Capitol has absolute control over the districts. To remind them of this the Capitol holds a huge televised event every year called the Hunger Games. Two kids or 'tributes' are chosen from each district to fight to the death in an enormous arena over a period of a few weeks. The winner takes, money, fame. The rest die. Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old girl living in District Twelve who has to provide for her fatherless family. When her younger sister Prim is chosen as tribute she volunteers to take her place. The boy tribute chosen from 12 is Peeta Mellark, who gave Katniss bread when her family was starving. The problem is that she has to be prepared to kill him to win.
So what did I think of these books? I loved them! 
The story gripped me from the first page. I had read all three books within a week. The charcters were real and the narrative at times funny, terrifying, or heartbreakingly sad. I cried when Katniss left for the Games. I cried when Rue died. I cried when....but I shouldn't give too many plot points away. I cried the most at the end, because it was finished, there was no more to read. 
I really admired Katniss. Her courage, her abilities and her strength. She didn't think twice before taking Prim's place. Her relationship with Rue was so sweet.....when she sang to her it was so sad. She annoyed me at times, she messed things up a lot, but she was human. There was nothing weak about her, she was determined and brave.
Peeta Mellark. The boy with the bread. He was loyal, funny, always knew the right thing to say. His rooftop speech about how he wanted to show the Capitol he was "more than just a piece in their Games." He volunteered to take Haymitch's place in the Quarter Quell in Catching Fire. He hardly ever complained, always protected Katniss. Half the time he was wounded, lost his leg, nearly died. In Mockingjay he is tortured and brainwashed by the Capitol. At first I liked Gale better than Peeta. Gale Hawthorne, Katniss's best friend and hunting partner in District 12. But by the end I was agreeing with Katniss. What she needed to survive was not Gale's fire. It was hope. Only Peeta could give her that. Gale was bitter and resentful. Understandable, but he didn't grow from his bad experiences, he just smouldered with anger. In Mockingjay there were some things he did I really didn't like. He was becoming cruel.
I think one of my favourite characters has to be Primrose Everdeen. She's sweet, compassionate and brave. She loves caring for animals and people. Unlike Katniss she is a great nurse, and it's amazing how much she grows up and matures over the course of the three books.
Katniss's Capitol friends, who she thought she would hate but ended up liking them: Effie Trinket, bustling, stylish, official; Cinna, her dreamy, brilliant stylist who ends up losing his life because of Katniss; her prep team, silly, clueless and helpless victims. 
Haymitch, a former victor in the Hunger Games. Drunk and depressed, drowning his horrible memories in liquor. He and Katniss fight a lot, but he is her mentor in the Games and makes sure she gets what she needs.
Then of course there are her fellow tributes: Cato, Clove, Thresh, "Foxface," Rue, and others. A bunch of the stronger tributes team up at first to pick off the weaker kids. The first death is horrible, but as the books go on, they become so frequent that soon it's nothing new anymore.
These books are violent and horrible, but I thought the violence was dealt with in a way that showed how awful it was. It wasn't gratuitous. The Capitol has become desensitized to evil. Is our culture getting that way too? The theme of the book isn't killing. It's what it does to you if it becomes normal, if it's what you have to do to survive. President Snow is an antagonist: a man who manipulates Katniss and Peeta and others to show his power. In the third book they discover that District 13 is in fact inhabited. And it's preparing for revolution. All the books are difficult reads, but especially the last one. Either I was crying, about to cry or I had a sick feeling in my stomach. Each character was real: Johanna, Beetee, Finnick. Katniss becomes the symbol of the revolution, the Mockingjay. Her aim is to kill Snow. By the end of the book Katniss is a mess. She's hurt physically and emotionally, and one of the biggest themes of the book was that war is not glorious. It's horrible and anyone who goes through it will be changed for life. One moment where I really, really didn't like her was when she voted yes to holding a Hunger Games for the Capitol children.(That didn't happen, thankfully.) There is a ray of hope at the end, though. The Hunger Games were abolished. 

Deep in the meadow, under the willow 
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow 
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy 
And when again they open, the sun will rise. 
Here it's safe, here it's warm 
Here the daisies guard you from every harm 
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true 
Here is the place where I love you. 

Please comment and tell me if you've read these. What are your thoughts?


  1. Hello again, Elizabethany;
    You asked for thoughts on The Hunger Games, so here are mine!

    Like you, I approached The Hunger Games trilogy with some apprehension, having heard just enough about them to conclude that they were not fit for all readers, though not thoroughly evil, either. ;) My Mom was reading them to see what exactly all the excitement was about and to find out whether they had any real merit, and so I read them around the same time.

    My main impression is that... well, it's kind of hard to select one main impression, isn't it? In truth, there were several portions of the story that made me uneasy - moral compromise and/or depravity, presentation of violence, unpleasant details of various sorts, etc. Perhaps this is to be expected from what is essentially a war story, a struggle for survival against an oppressive system. But it wasn't what I had expected when beginning the series.
    The characters were... well, what they were - some for better and some for worse. I could sympathize with Katniss at times, but rarely felt any liking for her. Peeta was reat, though, and became more so throughout the trilogy. Indeed, the author wrote Peeta so well that, in reading Mockingjay, I felt sure that she really would kill him off as she had so many others!
    One thing this series has going for it is the immediacy of it all - in reading it, I actually had mental pictures of what was being described (not sure if that's actually a good thing in this case), which is remarkably rare for me. It was the first thing I had read in first person present tense, a writing form I found highly annoying at first, but soon grew used to and now have almost become fond of using myself!
    Your review of The Hunger Games is very good indeed, sharing the main points and giving the primary cautions without giving away too much of the story. Well done!
    Have you seen the movie versions of The Hunger Games? And if so, what did you think of them?

    One note on that part where Katniss voted for the Capitol to suffer through their own series of Hunger Games: I felt exactly the same as you when I read that part, nearly slamming down the book in disgust and feeling that everything was going to pieces... however, my Mom pointed out afterwards that Katniss never intended for that plan to go through - she just needed to look like she was on the side of what's-her-name (ruler of District 13) long enough to get rid of both power-hungry rulers at once. With President Snow and D13 gone, there wouldn't be a vengeful person trying to retaliate against the other side with a treatment so cruel as more killing of children. Katniss was not advocating the reinstatement of the Hunger Games - she was merely buying time and favor to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. The ending wasn't nearly as bad as I initially took it to be, then. :)

  2. OH. I never even thought that she might just be buying time...I thought it was something President Coin would do and I was so disgusted. That's a relief then!!
    The ending was bittersweet wasn't it! Moral compromise, yes. Could have done without some of the details. One good point, though: there is no bad language. Which is nice to find in a modern series!!
    I haven't seen the movies...have you?

  3. Yes, a huge relief! It really wasn't very well written, that last portion - at least, it wasn't *clearly* written, and was still harder to unravel since I was sort of skimming the last several chapters in hopes of missing some of the graphics if possible.

    Moral compromise... yes indeed. In some cases there was outright WRONG being done, but in many more there seemed to be a sort of gray zone... of course I know that all actions must fall into one of two categories, namely, either right or wrong, but some of the situations made it difficult to tell quite what the right thing was. Like the part where the group of good guys promised to kill each other if they were to be captured during the invasion excursion... is it ever right to kill a friend or one's self, when the alternative is torture, probably ending in a painful death anyway? This series had too many such questions and scenarios for my liking.

    Hmm, I hadn't even given that any thought! But you're right, I don't remember any language issues in The Hunger Games trilogy - that's good!

    I have not seen the movies either. Immediately upon completing the first book, I knew I wouldn't be able to handle them. :) Maybe someday... I'd love to see the costumes! :D

    Who is your favorite character in The Hunger Games trilogy?

    Thank you kindly for following my blog, and for your comment on it! I love receiving comments. Who doesn't? ;]

  4. Yes, I found the last few chapters confusing, and I was so eager to find out what happened at the end that I kind of skim-read Mockingjay. I'm reading the series again more closely and thinking about them a bit more.
    The problem is that few things and few people are, in terms of right and wrong, plain black or white. We're all sinful, and even if our intentions are good we do bad things or make mistakes. Human beings are complex:-)
    About agreeing to kill a way it would be an act of mercy, but I'm not comfortable with that idea. I'm glad nobody actually did it.
    I do want to see the movies but I hope they're not too gross:-)
    Yes! The costumes would be amazing!!
    My favourite character(s) would be:
    Peeta. He represents hope and he does everything to protect Katniss.
    Prim. She grows from a cute, softhearted little girl to a courageous and gifted young girl.
    I do like Katniss but she isn't my favourite.

    You're welcome!! I love your blog! And your lovely long comments!! God bless:-)

  5. Humans are complex indeed - complex, and prone to breakage and malfunction.
    Yes, I also am glad that no one actually killed one of their friends! It was looking pretty bad there for a minute...
    Peeta is my favorite character as well. He was self-sacrificing and constant all throughout the Trilogy, and nobly protective of Katniss.
    Prim - why did she have to die? The series would have ended just as well if she had been given a happily-ever-after!
    (By the way, I like that final photo in your post. For some reason it had never occurred to me to take a picture of the text of a book - that could have many neat applications, though!)
    Oh, thank you! I'm greatly pleased when people read my writings, and still more so when they express interest in and/or liking for them! Unfortunately, I'm rather at a stand-still writing-wise at present... once I get some inspiration, the posts will be up and running again!

  6. Yes, I think what Peeta went through can be underrated sometimes. I mean, in the first Games he had a terrible wound and had his leg amputated, he volunteered for Haymitch in the Quell, and went through terrible torture in the Capitol...all for Katniss. I just love prim, especially in Mockingjay.
    It's a neat quote, too. The 'Real or Not Real' game. :-)
    Keep writing!! can't wait to read your posts:-)