WINNING MEANS FAME AND FORTUNE.
LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.
THE HUNGER GAMES HAVE BEGUN. . . .
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
The first time I read The Hunger Games, I was 12 years old. While I don’t remember a whole lot about reading the series the first time, over nine years later, the book still has a profound effect. To be fair, when I was in 7th grade, we didn’t have a cheap, orange version of President Snow (for all Snow’s faults, it seems disrespectful to compare the two) nor were we dealing with a global pandemic brought on by incompetent leadership. But I digress. The point is, there are a lot of similarities between Panem and 2020 America.
Reading the book now, I had a hard time not imagining the characters as the actors that play them in the film. This made them feel older, but as I worked through the book and made the effort, I was able to separate the two a bit better, which made the characters seem a lot younger. As I said, the first time I read this book I was 12, but I don’t remember thinking a whole lot about how I was the same age as the youngest kids being killed in the games, especially since I was relating more to Katniss, as the protagonist. But now, as a 21 year old, the 16 year old protagonists feel really young.
Even though I know the plot like the back of my hand, I still found myself racing to the end. I read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes right before this, and immediately started the trilogy to draw comparisons between Snow’s story and the future events. (I’m still trying to work on the theory that Katniss is a descendant from Lucy Gray, but I’m certain she’s descendant from the Covey — that’ll be it’s own blog post, too.) The struggle that the characters have with maintaining their humanity while being placed in a situation that lacks it is present throughout; Katniss struggles with it with Rue, Thresh with Katniss, and Peeta with, well, everyone.
Collins does a great job taking us through all of the experiences and emotions with Katniss, as well as making us care about the other tributes…at least, a few of them besides Katniss and Peeta. Although Katniss doesn’t have a lot of allies in the Capitol, it’s interesting to me that she views the interviewer, Caesar Flickerman, to be genuinely trying to help her, Peeta, and the other tributes. The interviews aspect of the Games is intriguing to me, because although emotional connection and appeal is useful to get Capitol citizens to watch and become invested in the Games, I would think that they would then feel upset when the tributes get brutally murdered in the arena, which would then make them be against the Games. After all of these years of the Games though, I think that the entertainment sports aspect of it makes the tributes seem very removed from the Capitol citizens; they’ve been conditioned to move on, since it’s not their family members being slaughtered.
The red-haired Avox girl caught my interest, too. Her being from the Capitol and escaping seems like a story worth telling, if Collins was looking to write another book.
Overall, The Hunger Games was just as good as I remember it. At this point, I’d assume that most people have read it or seen the movie, but remember that the book always has more detail, so even if you’ve only seen the movie, make sure to pick up the book as well!
Note: This review was posted in 2022, but I reread the book and wrote about it in the Summer of 2020!