So I’ve been meaning to write a proper post for a long time. My apologies to all those who follow this thing, BUT I’m coming back with a bang! I’ve been meaning to write a review of the Hunger Games for a while, and now I’ve finished all the books and seen the movie, so here we go!
I’ll admit it, I didn’t have high expectations from the latest Hollywood adaptation fad series. I went to see the first movie without reading the book first because I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read them. The movie was pretty good though. What I could see of it anyway, I think they tried to maintain a lower rating by blurring the violent bits but that ended up obstructing a large portion of the movie. The whole Games were pretty much a bloody blur. The parts the camera was still enough to show were pretty impressive though, I am seriously impressed with Jennifer Lawrence. I’m going to go ahead and say that I think she’s the best actress in my age group. I’m sad the Gale doesn’t play a big role in the first book, because Liam Hemworth is WAY better to look at than Joshua Hutchinson. I really think he was a poor choice for Peeta, I thought so before reading the book and I definitely think so now. Beyond barely being taller than Jennifer Lawrence, he didn’t really play Peeta’s feelings for Katniss correctly. It definitely seemed like he was playing along, not like he didn’t realize she was faking her feelings.
That’s really all I have to say about the movie. Sorry for any spoilers, but I will be really shocked if anyone hasn’t seen it by now. There are definitely spoilers below here, so if you haven’t read the second two books, STOP READING. I will love you anyway.
Now to the books! I read them a bit out of order, having seen the movie I started with the second book, Catching Fire, and I was hooked from the beginning. I think it was a combination of the use of present tense and the fact that every chapter ends with a cliff hanger. It’s like True Blood (the vampire show in HBO), every episode ends in such a way that it makes it impossible for you not to want to see the next. I’ve never read a book like this written completely in present tense, it was really driving and made it impossible to put the book down. I wanted to know what was happening and I had the sense that the story was waiting for me to get back, and the action was so urgent I couldn’t stay away for too long.
At the beginning of the story, we catch up with Katniss and find out what she’s been up to since the Games. It turns out she and Peeta haven’t spoken in the months since they returned to District 12. Katniss and Gale on the other hand have tried to return to business at usual, but that has been complicated by him confessing his feelings for her, furthering complicating her own. This soon becomes the least of her worries, as within the first three chapters the tension between her and the Capitol is re-established and this time the stakes are even higher than when we left.
The safety of everyone she loves now depends on her being able to quell the rebellion starting in the Districts by convincing the nation she’s not a revolutionary, but just a stupid girl in love. This mission is doomed from the start, however, because as the title suggests once a spark is lit fire is soon to catch.
I love the theme of accidental hero, Katniss never intended to start another revolution. She has noticed the injustices around her, but her survival instincts are too strong for her to ever take anything other than implicit action on them. Being forced into the spotlight as a Tribute in the Hunger Games, however, even her subtle acts of rebellion are picked up and broadcast to the world.
After she knows her performance wasn’t satisfactory during their Victory Tour, however, she seems less inclined to hide her feelings. Especially after the theme for the Quarter Quell, a heightened version of the Games to celebrate every 25th anniversary, is revealed. This year, all the tributes can only be selected from that district’s Victors. Katniss and Peeta go back into the arena, this time facing off against opponents who have also managed to survive once already. I won’t go into details about the second Games, but suffice it to say the second movie will be just a blurry as the first, and they end with a bang!
The end of the final chapter of the book is the cliff hanger to end all cliff hangers. I was so happy that I found the second and third books at the same time.
The third book, Mockingjay, is all war. The Districts have rebelled and Katniss and everyone she loves has fled and taken refuge in the supposed-to-have-been-destroyed District 13. It turns out this district, that was supposedly nuked beyond inhabitation in the first rebellion, moved underground and has become a self sustaining nation of their own. They have also taken the lead in this rebellion. While Gale and most of her peers have bought completely into the rebellion and the leadership of District 13, Katniss is having eerie feelings of deja vu as she is used as the face of the Rebels, their Mockingjay.
This is the book where I decided I truly liked Peeta and not Gale for Katniss. Having survived the Games, Peeta had the same understanding of authority and the ways it could be misused that Katniss has. Also, he has been in love with her since he can remember, honest and truly, and loved her still in spite of her faults when he got to know her better. Which is why the most heartbreaking part of the whole series is when he turns up brainwashed and wants to kill her. From that moment on, no matter what else was happening I kept reading to find out if he ever came back to her.
The way the war plays out is quite well written. Like Katniss, I never fully trusted the leadership of District 13. I was happy when she chose to kill their leader at the end of the war, in spite of having the chance to kill the man who put her through so much hell. This is her first conscious act of rebellion, the first time she knows what statement she’s making with her actions and she follows through anyway.
The end of the third book is where the first person/present tense fails the reader. She is taken away for her actions, and held in her room in the training center. Apparently there is a trial that goes on else where, where her fate is being decided. But all we get to read about is how she’s so distraught by everything that’s happened she’s trying to kill herself. Yeah, she’s been through a lot and is pretty sure she’s going to be executed, but still. It’s a rather winey couple of chapters for our heroine. I kind of wish she would have owned up to her actions, finally take charge of the hero role she was forced into. She wreaks of Bella freaking Swan in the last couple chapters.
When the trial is finished, she is exiled back to what was District 12. Peeta goes with her, they get married and have kids and that’s the end. It was a little anti-climactic now that I look back at it. She becomes the face of a successful rebellion, then cuts off the head of the snake that was soon to take control and her next move is to accept exile and go away quietly? I mean, she didn’t need to take over the government herself, that wouldn’t have been true to the character either. But it seems a bit like the author took the easy way out on the ending.
I didn’t really talk a whole lot about the first book, like I said, I read it last. It didn’t strike me quite as much as the second two, probably a function of my knowing what was going to happen. It was just as well written as the second two, and I definitely liked Peeta a lot more than I thought I would. Which proves my suspicion that he was improperly cast, which makes me sad for the next two movies.
So there you are. Those are my thoughts on the whole shebang. Sorry for those of you who haven’t read the books. I hope I didn’t give too much away.
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