Monday, September 19, 2011

thoughts about The Hunger Games(to take the place of a legit review)(no spoilers)

This is just one of those messy posts that I felt like I had to write. You can skip it if you want. I've pretty much given up on book reviews, because I usually can't detach myself enough from books enough to write an unbiased review. So this will just be my interpretation.

http://www.suzannecollinsbooks.com/images/Hg--jacket-330.jpg


The Hunger Games was not an enjoyable book for me. To me, reading the book was an intense, gripping, thrilling, experience that I found rather unsettling.  

Suzanne Collins, is, as Ron would say, "bloody brilliant". Her writing isn't my favorite, but she is incredibly talented. Her books are extremely suspenseful and forcefully grab you and make you not stop reading until the end, often in one sitting. Her writing is haunting, poignant, and darkly humorous, and her plot seems so real it's hard to believe that a mere mortal could have thought it up.

The Hunger Games have a seemingly simple premise. An oppressive government, that rules what used to be North America, forces each of its twelve slavish districts to send one boy and one girl each year to the gladiatorial Hunger Games, a competition in which they fight to the death. Whoever is left standing receives fame and fortune.

This all sounds very fine and well on paper. It has the potential to be just like any other book you've ever read(although a bit more violent).

But when you actually get to that part, you're not just reading about it. You're in the arena, watching innocent people your age kill each other in violent ways. You're being oppressed along with Katniss, and seeing what happens when rage and poverty and desperation go to extreme lengths. You're in Katniss's world, a world with no hope, no mercy, and  virtually no hope of improvement.

And no matter how disturbed or how unsettled you are, you can't stop reading, until you get to the end. And when you're finished reading, your experience doesn't stop there. You just keep thinking..and thinking..and thinking.

I read The Hunger Games last Tuesday, and stayed up till three in the morning thinking about it. It's been a week, and I'm still unsettled. I know I won't be the same for a long time, and I'll never forget this book.

And is that a bad thing?
The Hunger Games carries several extremely important themes on its shoulders, themes that a lesser author might be overwhelmed by. The story punctuates and emphasizes every one of them. The book, like many other dystopians, highlights and satirizes important issues in modern society.

Despite all the violence in the book, none of it is gratuitous. It's always used to highlight something. Some values in The Hunger Games-

Desensitization of violence-This is one of the more disturbing themes in the novel. The fluffy, naive, shallow, silly Capitol people love fashion and are seemingly harmless, but they don’t bat an eyelash when children are mauled by animals, impaled, or beaten to death for their entertainment. SC mercilessly demonstrates this again and again, and you can’t help but think of the similarly violent video games and movies that are gobbled up by children young enough to not be able to ride a bike.  Sure, they’re not real, but the message is the same:  Human life is not valuable-just another form of entertainment.

Value of human life: Sort of like the previous point. I’m not going to get all controversial here, but can you think of ways our society is objectifying and devaluing innocent lives?

Extreme poverty-Poverty is more than just not being healthy. Extreme poverty can drive people to desperate lengths. The Capitol’s oblivion to the districts’ plight(In a memorable scene, a Capitol citizen criticizes starving children's’ table manners) can be an exaggerated nod to most Americans’ views toward starving, third world countries today, where people still starve to death and children are still enslaved.(Most know about it , but few do anything about it).   

Courage and hope- People have mixed opinions on the main character, Katniss. I feel that she carries an important message about courage and mental strength. Her world is one, that at first glance, seems devoid of hope. But Katniss never gives up, even when things seem like they’ll never change, because she knows her sister and mother depend on her. At first, she doesn’t feel like she can change anything, and is absorbed with just surviving from day to day. At the end of The Hunger Games, she realizes that The Hunger Games have given her the potential to change things, and she starts to rebel(this is continued in the other books).

Trust-Katniss has been critisized for not making her own decisions. But she does make the decision that helps her win-the decision to trust Haymitch and Cinna and not stray from what they told her to do. Even though she does not come up with her own strategy, the decision to trust Haymitch’s strategy was probably one of the hardest ones she ever made, especially since she is used to being independent.

So would I recommend The Hunger Games?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. -Phillipians 4:8

The Hunger Games kind of dominates your mind for a while. You just keep thinking about it, sort of like The Game(haha. I just lost it.) It’s not that I want to think about it-actually, some parts I’d rather forget-it’s that The Hunger Games has that sticking quality which worms its ways into your thoughts.

What goes in in the Hunger Games is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, but the grim themes and lines of thought it leads you to are.

I can barely understand how people can be all “The Hunger Games were AWESOME! They’re my favorite books ever! Yay!” They are so grim and jarring, but they have this unmistakable otherworldly quality that makes them worth reading. They are so absorbing and realistic. Liking The Hunger Games isn’t like liking Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl. You just sort of have to like them, you have to be obsessed with them, because somehow you don’t feel you have a choice.

Case in point: Even though I just wanted to sort of forget about The Hunger Games, I still spent an hour on Tumblr on Saturday, looking through THG pictures and memes and listening to different versions of Rue’s Lullaby. Here's my favorite one:
 


So, the verdict: Would I recommend the Hunger Games? Yes to those who really want to read it. But not to anyone a month under the age of 12.

11 comments:

  1. AHHH, another mention of The Game. No one will tell me what in the world it is. xD But about the review: I really didn't think about THG like this until now. And it's cleared my mind that I wasn't the only one up until three in the morning thinking about it. But it was a really great review, and it brought to my attention some things I didn't notice before.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just look it up on Wikipedia! XD and argh I just lost it again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. GOOD, GOOD post. I'm reading Mockingjay right now, and we're pretty much thinking the same thing; particularly about Collin's writing. She's an amazing writer, but as far as content.... o_O

    Also, about the people in the Capitol and desensitization: for them it's like us watching an R-rated violent movie. (Collins birthed the story from channel surfing between a war movie in TV and a newscast, btw.) I don't think they get it, while everyone else does.

    Anyway, great post Amaranthine. Seriously. (And once I finish Mockingjay, probably tonight, I'll be doing a post like this :|)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for posting this review! You've addressed the book in a very thought-provoking way -- a way that told me what I really wanted to know about this book. I haven't read it yet. I requested a copy from my library, but to judge by the waiting list, I have a feeling it's going to be a while before I get it. :/ Anyways, I think I'll enjoy reading this book, especially since I'm studying ancient Rome right now and learning all about the original Gladiatorial 'games.' I'm interested to see how a modern author tackles the subject, with a unique twist thrown in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, won't be reading this series anytime soon for the same reason. I considered it for a while, but after reading some of the details, I realized it was NOT a series I wanted to read. In fact, I believe my mother wouldn't even allow me to read them!

    -Ley <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. Several of my friends are obsessed with these books. I read all three of them and thought they were pretty good, but there are so many other books to read! Great post. I might be sending people here to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Finished Mockingjay. Now my reaction when anyone tells me they're reading The Hunger Games is, "I. pity. you."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I completely identify with you- but don't worry it fades. except- you know what? that's not always a good thing. When I first read the book I thought exactly what you did- the clear criticisms of violence and poverty and the people who allow it to happen. I thought "What kind of horrible monsters ARE these people?" and then guess what happened? Katniss went into the arena, and I was just as entertained as all those fictional Capitol citizens watching her on TV. I aggressively counted the cannons, devoured the scenes in the cave, got a little misty-eyed at times. and I thought, "What kind of monster am *I*?" it kind of scared me, but I loved the story. So I kept reading, and I year later I was almost completely desensitized. But not all the time. The biggest power of The Hunger Games is that you remember that its WRONG. Don't comfort yourself by saying "It's not real". Imagine that it is real. Your best friends little sister just turned twelve and was reaped. In a week, she'll be dead. Gone. A life time of love and laughter and math tests and boyfriends and someday a husband and family of her own... gone. For some one else's amusement.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I finished Catching Fire around two AM a few weeks ago, and now I'm waiting on Mockingjay to be checked back in at the library... O.O
    I hadn't thought of it the way you do, but reading this gave me a new perspective on it, and I really agree with you. Thanks for posting! :D

    I'm following, by the way! :)

    -Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was 11 yrs old when my 6th grad class read it all together. And Everybody loved it!!!!!!!!! Then I got my 9 yr old sister to read them and she and her friends loved all 3 books. I am 12 now and I am still totally addicted to these books. I am wearing hunger games wristbands and T-shirts everywhere,Except school I have to wear a uniform there. So No one under 12 should read them? That is where your totally wrong, because these are the best books in creation and My class might even get to go see the movie. In the school hallway we have a poster for the movie up. So even the little kids know about the hunger games. And btw it bothered absolutely no one in my school. We're not wimps and can handle this book!!!!!!!


    Omg did that come out really nasty? I am so sorry if it did, I tend to do that when expressing my opinion.
    - Sam

    ReplyDelete
  11. I had been considering reading them(one of my friends is) but really, I think this post has just changed my mind, Even the good parts don't seem to be good enough to get me to read it. I have a book called "No Longer A Slumdog" and it's about real stories from people from other countries that are being persecuted. it really opened my eyes. I guess I'm saying, I have sources for all of those values without reading the books and getting myself engrossed in them.
    Thanks, Amaranthine. :)
    --Aay'liah

    ReplyDelete

Amaranthine <3's you. Thanks for the comment!