Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feeding on Words: May the Odds be EVER in your Favor

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

From Amazon: Book Description

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.


My take on the story:



When I first saw this book, I didn’t even mind it. I was used to hearing about great reads but I tend to avoid going with the trend. When Christmas time came, I decided that it would be a great gift, especially having a 3-in-1 set of books so I didn’t need to wait until I could proceed with the next book. Now that I’ve got all three, I realize what a loser I must have been for not taking the trend seriously. Here’s what I think about The Hunger Games, book 1 of the trilogy.

I knew that it was a young adult novel, yet so many of my older friends seemed to be captivated by the book. When I went to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore, some sessions kept repeating the wonderful achievement that this book imparted on all writers and readers. They said that it is a great example of young adult fiction that deals with more than relationships but the natural instinct to survive. It tackles issues of war and alliances, of truth and trust and of what true victory may mean. To all these descriptions, I say YES.

Redeeming the thrill of reading.

I’ve spent a couple of months reading older type novels and I seem to have forgotten that reading is also supposed to give you excitement. When I started the Hunger Games, I was a little uneasy because the fonts were bigger, like reading Sweet Valley or Brida in the bigger format. So I conditioned myself that this was written for 12-18 year olds. Right then I was transported into a world that verges on reality. I no longer thought of stopping and switching to another book. I kept on turning the page because that's what the book requires of you. The story itself wants you to keep moving forward, to push further into the lives of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark and all the people in between. The pacing of the story is amazing with just the right slow moments to let you catch your breath for a while. The scene descriptions were also distinct yet not too specific that you had to rearrange the rooms you’ve already imagined in your head. The book wants you to swallow it hard and move on to the next troubling issues the protagonists face. For a reader whose last exciting book had been The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The Mystery of the Indigo Moon, The Hunger Games had definitely pulled me into seeking more books like it.

Object observations.

As I have already mentioned, the scene descriptions had been written in a way that readers don’t have to research what items actually existed in the rooms. It has general descriptions with bits and pieces of specific items that would make the terrain more realistic in our imaginations. Using the first person voice also contributed to focusing on what Katniss was thinking. It focused the readers to think how Katniss thought and to feel what Katniss felt. Having it any other way might not have been as effective. The historical timeline and the way it has been explained also proved to be very detailed and well-planned. Though scattered in areas around the book, readers will be able to piece together what really happened in the history of Panem.  What also intrigues me in the story is the way Collins pulls you into the past to talk about Katniss’ experiences and then quickly brings you back to the present. Sometimes, I tend to forget that I’m reading about an experience Katniss is reliving until the voice turns to present tense and I have to look back a few paragraphs to check where the transition was.

Collins did a wonderful job in creating a sense of place and a sense of community. The people in each district were given characteristics unique in each person and place. It highlighted their strengths and their personalities which made the story more interesting.

Questions and lessons:
  1. In a game that requires one to murder so that only one can win, is it really still possible to trust anyone? Did the alliances of the Career Tributes and Katniss and Rue’s prove to be useful?
  2.  “Cross the bridge when you get there” goes the popular saying. In the story, Katniss had to decide what she would do to Peeta if ever they find themselves face to face. It would be difficult to kill the boy with the bread, the one who helped her find hope but it would also be difficult to let him kill you. At that point in time, what would you have done?
  3. Peeta acts as if he’s in love with Katniss and she does the same. How could Katniss not know if Peeta was actually being honest with his feelings? How would Katniss fare if she believed him? (Personally I was figuring out why Katniss still hasn’t gotten it, especially when Haymitch said “he’s already there”.)
  4. What if you had a mother like Katniss and Prim’s? Someone who would leave in the sense that she just sits there and waits to die. Would you also have the strength to do everything for your family to survive? Would you still be able to forgive her?
  5. Madge gave Katniss the mockingjay pin. Where did she get it from and what was the importance of it? (Okay, so the answer to this can be read in Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy)

Basically, the book was wonderful and thrilling and suspenseful. Even though many readers would classify it as violent, I really didn’t see it that way. I saw it as bright and hopeful and challenging.  Actually, throughout reading the whole book, the pictures in my head were in sepia or vintage brown whereas the colors in the movie were in blues and grays and I realize that the story was supposed to be dark and dim and steel-like in atmospheres. This shows that every reader has a different idea of what the book is actually saying.

All in all, I love the book. I love the way it talks about life and survival and all the tips it gave me. I love the characters and how each of them tried to work things out on their own. I love the mystery and even the vanity of the Capitol people. It was refreshing to finally get my hands on something that deals more than love and relationships. It dealt more on humanity and how you can choose to live your life even when you seem to be under the authority of those who have power.

Starting to read Catching Fire. =)


4 comments:

  1. http://bookinsane.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. visited! your blog is awesome. Really great reviews. I might read some of the books you're reading. I need something to keep my mind away from The Hunger Games Trilogy or I might end up reading them all again. =)

      Delete
  2. I love the Hunger Games!! A book thats smaller than that takes me FOREVER to finish!!!!!! The first day I was already on page 160, I got it after I came home from school which was about 4:30. I LOVED IT! I couldn't put it down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right?! I started reading it all skeptically but I didn't realize I was devouring it in one day. If I didn't have to go places that day, I'd have finished it in one sitting, literally! Awesome book. =)

      Delete

If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to leave them here. Blog links are also welcome. =)