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Author Topic: The Hunger Games  (Read 1677 times)

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The Hunger Games
« on: July 03, 2012, 10:36:50 AM »


I know this isn't terribly current for most, but I cannot believe there has not been a larger discussion on these books other than a few notes about them here and there in the 50 Books in 20xx threads.  So, can we talk about these, please?  Come on, I said please.... thanks.

I know everybody loved book one, and I did too.  I wish I had read it before I saw the movie.  Everybody talks about how faithful the movie was to the book, and it's true that they didn't alter any plot points for the movie but man alive did the movie leave a lot of important stuff out.  You don't even really get the full impact of why they're called The Hunger Games, you don't get the desperation or that other districts have it WAY worse than District 12, you don't get that the relationship with Peeta is all fake, you get no sense of the inner turmoil she feels about betraying Gale... what the movie really needed was some first person narration by Katniss, so that you would get those things.  Yeah, that may be ugly but really the movie is such a superficial overview of the book it's kind of pathetic.  Other than that I don't have much to say about book one, because I really did like it but taken on it's own it's not super special until you start getting the ways the rest of the books are being setup.

Book two is where Katniss really started falling apart for me.  Early on I realized that just like Harry Potter and that stupid dame from Twilight I was going to end up hating the main character of these books.  She's so self centered, and dumb it's painful and her fight and determination never materialize again after book one.  If it were not for the other characters she'd have been dead in the first book, though you don't realize it all that much at the time... you think she's just doing what she has to do.  She also shows no real character after the first book... where was that sense of love, duty and sacrifice that led her to give up her life for Prim by taking her place as tribute?   Once you realize how much Peeta is willing to sacrifice himself for her, and how wise Haymitch really is about how to keep her alive in the arena her crap of not trusting them and doing things her own way wears thin pretty fast.  Her taking so long to come to the realization that people, even important people, are rallying behind what she's done is frankly hard to believe, nobody could be that dumb, the evidence is overwhelming... especially once people start throwing themselves into situations that are going to get them killed for her.

I wondered from the very beginning of book two how Katniss was going to end up back in the arena, somehow I knew there would be some way.  However, I expected some very lame reason, like Snow would just demand it or some such, however the way it was done was pretty brilliant and the setup to other victors becoming allies was a fine piece of plot work.  The puzzle aspect of the arena was really cool... much better than than the high stakes paintball game the first one was, and obviously the pace was refreshing compared to the first Hunger Games.

I really struggled with book three, at least in the beginning.  I did not at all understand Katniss's abject hatred of the people of District 13... I thought she wanted to see the Capitol overthrown, I thought she wanted to see Snow killed, I thought she understood that she was the face of the rebellion, nope, not at all... she just hated them for not saving Peeta and she's pissed that she wasn't in on it.  She just wanted to mope and be a bitch, for no apparent reason.  Her dislike/distrust of Coin was spot on and quite the saving grace, but the rest of her defiance/attitude made no sense to me.

The stuff with Peeta in this one was pretty compelling, though I wouldn't have had to be brainwashed to want to kill Katniss.  On the other hand, her treatment of him made no sense... why was she mad at him?  Her rekindled relationship with Gale was confusing, especially in light how it is later is resolved.  Had to add some drama, I guess, but I personally couldn't have cared less who she ended up with by this point.  For someone that supposedly didn't see herself being interested in having a man, or having children she sure leads these dudes on, and they let her.  Do. Not. Understand.

The plot device of their mission into the Capitol was well done.  I enjoyed the fact that in the end they remained nothing more than pawns in the greater political struggle, again just a rallying point that ultimately has no real hand in the overthrow of Snow.  I'm glad Collins resisted the temptation to have Katniss save the day and her end up being some kind of reluctant spokesperson for the people.  This easily could have lead into yet another set of books in which the rebels are forced to turn against Coin, but I thought that was handled smartly.  Katniss being dropped off in 12 to live out her days, basically in exile, was a good way to leave things.  She was not a believable catalyst for change and all in all the fact that we were not expected to swallow a 180 turnaround for Panem shows real respect for the readers.

The resolution of the love interest... well, I just don't know.  Peeta seems rather pathetic to me for not walking away from this bitch, what more reason did she need to give him?  And even after he does show up, proving to her that come hell or high water he wants no one else but her she still takes her sweet ass time being convinced.  Good on Gale for letting it go and moving on.

All in all I ended up loving these books precisely because they weren't easy to swallow.  The Gale/Peeta thing is not nearly as ridiculous as the Jacob/Edward thing.  Katniss being a screwed up kid that got forced into a situation that she couldn't handle is much better writing than some cookie cutter hero rises from the ashes thing, which would have been far easier to do and do as well as this was done.  I do have to quibble a little with her being so freaking dumb/naive, seriously nobody is as clueless as this chick is.

How these are being marketed as YA is beyond me, these are pretty freakin' dark, even if you look past the kids killing kids aspect of the first.  I think my 12 year old has read the first one--she says she has, but I'm not so sure, she doesn't seem to have comprehended much--but I would really prefer she not read the other two, the themes and depictions are well above what I think she can handle.

Anybody care to discuss?
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Ella Minnow Pea

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Re: The Hunger Games
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 08:18:11 PM »

Great synopsis!

After a year, I still think my favorite part of the series is the competition in book 2. Book 3 hasn't stayed with me (other than the end), so I really can't say much about it.

I know a 5th grader who have read the first one. I don't know if he's read the other two. I'll have to check with his mom. She was going to wait until next year, but his friends had already started reading them.
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Re: The Hunger Games
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2012, 09:24:21 PM »

I thoroughly enjoyed all three.  It's been a couple of years since I read them, so I have forgotten some of the details.  Nice review, and some good insights.

I did really like that Katniss didn't become the permanent spokesperson/leader of the resistance. It felt true to form- she hadn't ever been able to clearly express her thoughts, could only sometimes plan ahead/manipulate people, and she really trusted noone. I didn't view her return to district 12 as a banishment-- she couldn't hack it in the wider world, and after what she'd been through, I think she deserved to stay out of the limelight.

I also like that it wasn't set up as an epic love story. When you're fighting for survival, love can be quite secondary. It would have felt off for her to have been agonizing over Peeta or Gale while she's tied up in a tree or getting stung by tracker jackers. And Peeta made sense to me as her significant other.  She and Gale were too much alike- they never would have spoken to each other! Peeta let her be a little softer than she thought she could be.

When I read them, I whipped through the first one quickly, had to wait a week for the second, and bought the third at the same time.  Read 2 and 3 in one sitting. Two was definitely the strongest, and most interesting seeing how a whole network of resistance had been developing, and she never knew. Girl is not smart, I'll give you that! I like that she didn't grow, or learn a valuable lesson. I think that is much more like the real world. I am not one who likes to read most serious adult fiction, but I liked the sense of realism in this fantasy world. The conflict with District 13 was awesome, too. On the one hand, they are also against the Capitol, but on the other, what they are offering is just as bad.

I will disagree about the conditions in district 12-- I think that they were worse off than most of the other districts, except a couple (Rue's perhaps). The fact they only had Haymitch as a winner in 75 years is telling. And the Quarter-quell challenges are clearly made up by the Capitol to crush whatever rebellion is happening at that time, no doubt about it!  Lies, all lies!

I thought Peeta was going to die, no doubt about it, and I was ridiculously pleased that he didn't.


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Re: The Hunger Games
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 01:18:18 PM »

I thought Peeta was rather pathetic.  He was a bigger pawn than anyone though.  Especially with the whole brainwashing thing.  But then the brain washing didn't take all the way thanks to the healing prowess of the 13 year old Prim.

Eh, I dont' know.  I also don't know how or why the general or sargent or whatever, the one who got killed on the mission to the Capital didn't just kill Peeta outright when they figured out that Peeta was basically sent by Coin to kill Katness.  The sargent guy really respected Katness, despite her hardheadedness.

yeah, Katness definetly got the Harry Potter attitude though.  Ugh.  It's what I hated about Harry in the last couple of books in that series.  I mean Harry began to believe the hype, and I think Katness started to get that way too, which made her disregard those around her.  She got people killed because she made the vendetta so personal. 

I also knew there was no way that Katness wouldn't go back into the arena after the first book.  I mean, if I had read it when it came out, maybe, but you could just tell that it wasn't over for the gamemakers.

They were very well done books though overall.  I wish there were more.  I wish they would have gone more into what happened to the other tributes, I mean we got the one guy's basic story, that they forced him to be a courtesean, and that Haymitch was basically exiled to live his days out as a pathetic drunk in the worst district, but what did they do to the others?  Was it everybody, or just the ones who wouldn't go along with the Capital?Did the winners from the favored districts have an easier time?  How did people not realize they were murdering those close to the winning tributes?
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