The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
“You’re not leaving me here alone,” I say. Because if he dies, I’ll never go home, not really. I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena, trying to think my way out.”
Warning: This review is all over the place, and isn’t really a review. I just have feelings and blogging is about feelings. You are welcome
Like a lot of the YA community, I have recently been re-reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins in preparation for the prequel which comes out tomorrow. This series is incredibly important to me. It was what got me into writing. I started off writing fan-fictions for The Hunger Games (anyone remember the SYOT craze?). I have so much nostalgia and love for this series, so maybe I am a little bit bias, but bias is not always bad.
I was nervous going into my re-read because I was certain that, like most series’ I read when I was fourteen-years-old, it would not be as good as I remembered. Boy, I was wrong. This review will be somewhat spoilery at the end. I will warn you before I dive into spoilers.
This series still, in my opinion, holds up to today’s standards. The character work is pretty incredible when you really look into it. The writing style is simplistic and easy to follow- which I respect in YA- and there are things throughout which make you realise how talented Suzanne Collins actually is, even when you do come back to the series with a more critical approach.
If you do not know, (
although, I am sure most people do by now?)The Hunger Games follows our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, in a dystopian world where there is a Capitol where the rich, privileged people live, and the Districts which work to support the Capitol. Because of an uprising 74 years ago, every year each district offers up two tributes between 12 and 18 to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. Yes, it is morbid and hard to read at times. Yes it is hard to imagine a world where this is possible, but you know what, there is a lot of things that I find relatable to todays soceity. Do we not watch shows like Love Island- where we see people getting their hearts broken and break down on TV but we still tune in to watch it? Do we not watch things like Survivor where people actually get injured? Obviously, neither of these are as extreme as The Hunger Games, but I’m just saying, some of the messages it portrays do make you think about our own consumerism.
The first book really gives a great set up to the world of Panem. Our hate towards the capitold and hate towards President Snow is built immediatley- and that is exceptionally important for the following books.
I love how the first book only really focuses on the games, they are the conflict that Katniss has to fight through and, with each book, our perspective widens. We see Panem in a bigger picture. The conflict becomes- if it was possible- greater- the real enemy, becomes more obvious, as Katniss is pretty much dragged into something she did not want to be apart off. All Katniss ever wanted to do, is protect her sister and protect the family. Who would have thought that volunteering in the place of a young Prim would lead to the events in the later books?
Katniss is a somewhat relatable character. She is flawed and even unlikable at some times. All she wants is to stay alive and who can blame that? The characters in the first book are all quite interesting. We obviously focus more on the other tributes in the games. We have Peeta who comes from Katniss’ district who is the boy with the bread, a total soft boy, an actual sweetheart. We have Rue who, I forgot how much I loved. She is amazing, and let’s face it, she’s the real heart of the rebellion. She is twelve, potentially one of the youngest tributes and she is often compared to Prim- Katniss’ sister, but she’s also kinda badass for a twelve-year-old (Fun fact: I have a hamster named after Rue). The concept of the careers- who train for the games- who see volunteering for them and winning as a form of glory is so interesting. Foxface is freaking fantastic, as is Thresh. Each bring something different, showing how different people’s brains work and how different people have different strengths and strategies that set them apart. Somehow, the first book makes you fall in love with characters who barely have any page time because you find yourself wondering what their own story is. For example; I freaking love Foxface and she has about two scenes in the entire book. The first book is all about survival. It is desperate, heartbreaking, and chaotic, and I love it, because it feels real although completely impossible at the same time.
Now I’m going to talk about the second and third book. So, spoilers?
The second book is debatably my favourite because we have both elements of the games and elements of the rebellion in one book. We have secrecy. We have Finnick and his sugar cubes (I also love Finnick). We have Mags. We have a development of Peeta and Katniss’ relationship which is potentially at the best in this book. What I love most about Katniss is how unreliable of a narrator she is in this book. Even more so than the first. She has no clue what is going on. She is confused and is just trying to keep Peeta alive. The twists and turns of this book keep you guessing, even when you’ve read the damn story before and should know this stuff, but it’s exciting. I love it, and the end, to me, is beyond powerful.
Then, we have the third book. I think that Katniss’ mental state is portrayed fantastically in this book through the writing style. It tackles hard subjects. PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, suicide. It’s a heavy book and I think it is done very well. Again, Katniss has no clue what is going on half the time, and I love it. Also, this book breaks my heart three times. I wonder if you can guess which three. I love how it plays with the idea that power is the problem, not necessarily one person, but the idea that any person who wants power and complete control has the potential to be equally as dangerous.
What I love (REAL spoilers here):
- The constant use of fire. She’s the girl on fire. The second book is called Catching fire to show the spark of rebellion in the first book is catching on, Katniss needs to dim the fire, but fails at that. Fire is used massively in the third book “Fire is catching, if we burn, you burn with us.” And that scene…where we do a full 180 and she goes back to being the girl on fire in the most real and painful way. I just think this running theme makes everything so much more impactful and important. I love running themes and I think the way it is used, as it grows, really displays the growth of the rebellion. It’s symbolic and I could write an essay about fire in this book (although can I point out that fire is my biggest fear soo)
- I also love – and hate- how we do the full 180 in other ways. Prim. Basically. The one person that started it all. The only girl she wanted to save. Yeah. Full 180 there.
- I love Katniss. She’s still one of my favourite protagonists. She isn’t some 17 year old who wants to change the world. She’s a lost 17 year old, who is doing her best, and being dragged through things she has no idea about, but somehow, she manages it.
- I love the concept as a whole- even if it’s hard to read and heartbreaking. It directly reflects some elements of our own culture.
Things I realised:
- I really dislike Gale. I actually started to believe that “I only disliked him because he indirectly caused Prims’ death” (which btw, I don’t blame him for that ok), which is what everyone told me. But, no. I dislike him for very real reasons. He was a bit annoying in the first book but we could look past that. He stepped in to drag a crying Prim away at the reaping. Good job. He was terrible in the second book. Selfish, and can I point out that he literally shoved Katniss at one point? For very little reason. But ok. Sure. He saved a lot of District 12. Great, he’s a hero. I am not denying that, I just don’t like him as a person. And let’s not start with the third book; sure, let’s kill a bunch of innocent civilians because of…war. Sure. It’s fine. I’m fine. I really don’t get Gale love- no offense.
- Carrying on from this: You can definitely tell this book was written during the love triangle era. The love triangle in this series is so stupid, but I do love how Katniss sees the stupidity of it and literally says that she has more important things to be doing than thinking about kissing.
- Peeta’s favourite colour is sunset orange. What is a sunset? It is the light of day going away, but with a promise that it will rise again. Anyone else seeing how that foreshadows what happens in the third book? You see??? Peeta is the light. I find that beautiful.
A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Ok, I just want to talk about the prequel which I have on it’s way and I will be reading it as soon as it arrives and I will be reviewing it, but I want to talk about some things I considered about it whilst on my re-read journey.
Snakes. President Snow is referenced to as a snake or as having snake eyes throughout the three books. That explains the title of A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. If you are interested in what my prediction is for the prequel. We know that President Snow poisoned his way to the top. I think we will get to see his rise to power through poison. We know that he was very young when he rose to power, and he is 18 in this book. Young. It is possible. I think there will be some sort of rebel act in it (not necessarily from Snow) hence the Songbird (Mockingjays) and I do think it will be more his fall from grace rather than any sort of redemption.
That is all. I am sorry it was all over the place and not really a review because it’s the hunger games, one of the few things that I will love indefinitely. It’s basically, to me, what Harry Potter is to others.
Also: Random question: do you guys like reading negative reviews? Because I was going to review a certain book, but I hated it, so I don’t know whether to post a negative review because I don’t wanna trash on someone’s baby or be insensitive towards something someone worked hard for. But at the same time, I feel like a balance is needed. It will be in my wrap up either way, but do I do a full review? Thoughts?