Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Hunger Games

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 one 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 death before - and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But is she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I wanted to avoid the hype and make up my own mind about Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games.   I managed to prolong reading the book - especially as the reservation queue at the library was long - but at the time my sister dragged me to the cinema to see the film.  Nearly a year later, there was a copy available on the shelves at the library and I decided to give it a try.  I'll only offer up one thought in relation to the movie: I found it funny how my attention waned in the same place in the book as it did in the film.

In a bizarre way, I went into reading The Hunger Games with a Katniss-like mind set.  Survive.  Just get through it and establish feelings about it later.  I've got to admit, that even though I got a little bored, I thought that Suzanne Collins had created a fascinatingly brutal world.  Collins certainly has a great imagination.  Some parts made me laugh (the word Muttations, anyone?), but there was always a darker undercurrent ready to stop me from acting like a resident of the Capitol.  I now understand why she has inspired, and perhaps created a gateway for, similar dystopian YA.

This may come as a surprise, but I thought that Suzanne Collins presented me with a believable love triangle; if you can call the relationship between Katniss, Gale, and Peta that.  My understanding of the whole situation was that because Katniss is so singly focused on survival - at home and in the Games - of course she would be thrown by Peeta's admissions of love and want to question them.  Is he saying that to distract her?  Or does he really mean it?  Throughout the book Collins expands the scope in which Katniss sees the world and the people around her.  Because of this Katniss begins to question her relationship with Gale, something that she had always thought of as a brother and sister type dynamic.  This is the type of story-telling I like when it comes to book characters giving each other smooches.  Give me reasons as to why they feel this way, not a just because he/she is pretty.  Logic is always your friend. 

Overall, colour me impressed.  I'm not in a hurry to read Catching Fire, but I'm sure I'll get around to it some time in the future.

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