Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I can't believe it took me so long to start the trilogy! The Hunger Games, Book 1 of the Hunger Games Series By Suzanne Collins. #booksWhen I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.
warning: this post contains spoilers
I generally try to cram my book reviews into no more than two paragraphs, because I've found in the past that longer ones generate zero comments. Also, I don't read reviews that are overly long. But this time I'm throwing all that out the window, because I actually have stuff to say about this one.

The seventy-fourth Hunger Games are about to begin. And if you don't know the story, you should by now. It's been all over everywhere since the first movie came out in 2012. 

I thought about this today. I thought about it regarding my book, and I thought about it regarding this story. My English teacher had said many times over the course of the 2013-2014 school year that no story is new--every one of them has already been written. Boy, do I wish publishers would figure that out. And so today, as I moved the irrigation pipes across the orchard grass field, I thought something to the effect of--when a book is called "original," that only means that the author took inspiration from more than one source. The more sources you draw your material from (and I mean fictional sources, I don't mean research), the more original is your work. For example, when I first started my book, my storyline was much like The Lord of the Rings, and the book itself I described as "A cross between The Lord of the Rings and Narnia." Is that very original? No. But now I can say that my inspirations are The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Captain America, and, to some extent, Star Wars. The fact is that the more you read and the more you watch--the more ideas you'll see, and the more you can incorporate them into your books. That's not plagiarism. That's adaptation. Plagiarism would be taking one stories and one idea and rewriting it with some changes. Remember, the more pieces, the bigger, the harder, the more intricate, the more thought-puzzling, the more time-consuming is the puzzle. Just like how they say the people in your dreams are made up of bits and pieces of all the people you've seen. So are your characters. (That's why I can say I want Colin O'Donoghue, Hayden Christiansen, and Richard Armitage to somehow become one person for my MC.) So is your plot. (Disclaimer, because I have to: I do not, and never would, advocate plagiarism. Ever. I sincerely doubt any aspiring author reading this would, or does, commit plagiarism with his or her works. Most book ideas that come to a writer wouldn't be plagiarism, because, as I said, inspiration can come--and should come--from so many different places. From a photo on Pinterest. From a landscape. From a piece of the plot in Captain America.)

I really want to read these books before the movies come out! (The Hunger Games series) -- UPDATE 5/16: Complete. And obsessed.I can assume that Suzanne Collins drew from many sources when she created Panem, even if she didn't know it. The history of the U.S. with the thirteen colonies--and the irony that history repeats itself. The coal mining days of America. I could guess that she watched North and South by BBC, but that would be supposing she were like me, which I very much doubt she is. I can assume she drew from many sources when she thought of the Hunger Games. I'm almost certain she looked at reality TV now and remembered the Colosseum (based on what I've heard). And she asked "Why not?" . . . an incredibly important thing to do, but unfortunately a topic too long for me to discuss in a post which is supposed to be a book review.

I can't fault the plot. The plot is original because it was taken from sources which melded together to create a bestselling series. So what about the characters?

Katniss Everdeen. The book, written in first person present tense, is entirely from her perspective. A bad thing? No. But Katniss is no-nonsense, practical, your typical strong personality, except--and this is a plus for her--not saucy, not opinionated, and not like most every other female protagonist in literature today. But I couldn't like her very much. I couldn't identify with her. She was too coldhearted, too unfeeling. Stylistically, this was Suzanne Collins's main problem: she didn't have near the emotional punch that J.K. Rowling had as I read through Harry Potter. (To be fair, Collins is, technically, a better writer than Rowling.) Or is that what she wanted? Because Katniss has to be unfeeling . . . because she has to survive.

hunger games catching fire costume mockingjay | Go Behind The Scenes Of Hunger Games: Catching Fire With Costume ...Gale. I honestly didn't like him. Team Peeta and Team Gale? Well, I'm definitely Team Peeta. Gale and Katniss are too alike for a good relationship, besides which Gale is angry and vengeful. If you could choose, which would you do: a relationship with a man who's been your friend for the last five years and helped your family survive, who you could call your best friend; or a relationship with a man who saved your life at least twice, who stood by your side and helped you when you were three inches away from death for two weeks? That's a hard question. I've heard it said that ultimately Katniss and Peeta went through more together than Katniss and Gale. I both agree and disagree. Without Gale's help, Katniss may have starved with her family in District 12. Without Peeta, she certainly would have.

Which brings me to Peeta Mellark. I'm most likely Peeta's same Meyers Briggs personality--if he is an ISFJ as I expect. But he was way sweeter than Gale, and much easier to like than Katniss. I really don't know exactly what he sees in her. She's an excellent hunter and she cares deeply for a few people ("There are a few people whom I really love, and even fewer of whom I think well," said Elizabeth Bennet), but outside she's pricklier than a thorn.

The most well-done portion of the entire book was probably Katniss's confusion over her feelings toward Peeta. She doesn't believe she's in love, but she can't stand being separated from him and she even says "I already miss him" as they hold hands, united by physical touch but sundered by the cold truth, before the welcoming crowds of District 12. She can't withhold herself from running to embrace him when she sees him after the Games, but she has to do it partially for show. She screams at the doctors who try to heal him--she wants to be with him. But is this because she loves him, or because she fears for his safety? Even the readers don't know the answer. To me, Gale should mean safety and security because he was unassociated with the Games, whereas Peeta should mean fear and isolation because his presence meant she was in the Hunger Games. Hmm.

What was my overall takeaway from The Hunger Games? I'm excited to read Catching Fire. But I hope that Katniss opens up more--and I hope suspense increases. And I hope the confusion with the love triangle lessens.

4.5 stars.


  1. I tend to be the type of gal who just waits for the movies to come out, and that's what I did with Hunger Games! I thought the plot is very brilliant and unique! Especially the second one! The whole clock thing was genius! Enjoyed it a lot! It was fun to read your thoughts! :)

    1. Ah.... :) I tend to discourage that when possible because I think it's better all-around to read the books: works your brain and gives you more information. But if you're in a time crunch or just don't feel like reading, watching the movies is great :)

      I haven't read the second one yet! I'm interested to find out what the clock is all about :) I need to order it from the library, speaking of which. :)

      Thanks . . . I really went out on a limb today. I felt like ranting. That happens rarely, but I feel so much better when it does ;)

  2. Aside from the plot itself (there's just something about kids killing kids...), Katniss is my biggest issue with this book. She's just.. boring. That being said, I think Jennifer does a really good job with her in the films and even though she's true to character, I don't know, she's somehow got "more" personality than the books. Or that has been my impression. Great review, Hannah!

    (And I love your comment about long reviews - I am constantly telling myself that as well, but once I get typing... I don't seem to stop. ;D)

    1. Katniss IS very coldhearted and insensitive, it seems to me. I love Jennifer's portrayal of her even though I probably will never like the character herself all that much. Thank you for reading :)

      Haha...your reviews are so great and inspiring though. You do a wonderful job!


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