The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games, 1Suzanne CollinsYA DystopianScholastic PressSeptember 14, 2008Hardcover374

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

The Hunger Games takes place in post-apocalyptic North America, now known as Panem. The government requires one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen from each of the twelve districts to act as “tributes” in the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight-to-the-death where the lone victor becomes rich.

Katniss Everdeen becomes District 12’s female tribute and has to fight to survive not just for herself, but also for her family (especially her sister, Primrose “Prim). Peeta Mellark is the male tribute from District 12 and he has a few secrets he’s never told Katniss. Haymitch Abernathy, District 12’s only victor who spends his life at the bottom of a bottle, is Katniss and Peeta’s mentor and their lifeline.This book was really amazing in my opinion. It created something “new” (although obviously it owes a debt to previous dystopian novels like George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World), and completely immersed all readers in Katniss’ struggle. Well, almost all readers. I have one cousin who couldn’t get over how messed up children killing children was, and put down the book only 5 pages in. I really felt for Katniss and felt my heart racing multiple times while reading this book.

Some people didn’t like the movie. When I first saw it, I loved it. However, as I’ve watched it several more times, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied. Not because of what they cut out (which was a lot, including certain things I think needed to be included) but with how the director, Gary Ross, filmed the movie. He used a handheld camera to show “subjectivity” because he felt if he used normal filming techniques with stable wide-angle lenses, movie audiences would become like the flamboyant and ignorant citizens of “the Capitol” watching The Hunger Games, instead of understanding fans of Suzanne Collins’ visceral book. I understand his thinking, but I still wish the screen didn’t shake every two seconds making some people experience vertigo rather than watching the movie.

Also, as much as I like Jennifer Lawrence, whenever she gets emotional onscreen, I get pulled out of the experience. I don’t know what it is, but seeing her cry just makes me know I’m watching her play a character in a movie who is currently crying. BUT when she’s being all prickly Katniss, I totally buy it.

I highly recommend this trilogy, I read all three books in 7 hours and stayed up until 2 in the morning reading it last Thanksgiving, and it certainly made me grateful that I didn’t live in Panem. I suggest everyone stops reading my blog (but please come back soon) and buy The Hunger Games!

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