Leisure Literature: The Hunger Games

When I can find extra moments, there is always a list of books I want to read. Some I anticipate for months, some for years before I find the time to get to them, and some of them live up to the hype and some don’t. Leisure Literature is a book review column that details my thoughts on my recent readings.

Good day, I’ve been late to the bandwagon my whole life. I read Harry Potter for the first time this past January, I saw Star Wars for the first time last year (and at that, I’ve still only seen 4, 5, and 6!), and I’ve yet to finish Tolkien or read John Green. The Hunger Games received so much publicity back in 2012 due to the movie, and I knew I’d have to read it eventually (my mom cited it being a ‘candy book’ as a reason for me not to read it). It’s like being the only one left in your friend circle who still hasn’t seen Mean Girls (nope, I still haven’t) or doesn’t have a cellphone (that too). You miss out on a lot–the jokes, the references, the understanding, heck!

I finally took the liberty to check out The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins from the library. By now, I assure you that every bit of the plot has been spoiled for me. I knew exactly what to expect–the love triangle, the rules of the games, the Capitol-districts relationship. I thought I was just checking it out to have read it, to be in on the references. I thought I was just reading it to have read it. I thought it was just another poor candy book that received a too-large amount of attention and publicity due to a catchy killing game and a large-scale movie. How wrong I was.

Yes, I loved The Hunger Games. I’ve become too indifferent to truly love the concept of the games, or join the fandom, but the book was far more stunning than I expected. The powerful first person, present tense keeps the suspense going, as if things haven’t happened yet. Katniss’ thoughts run free on the page, her love for her family strongly displayed, and some very direct symbolism explanations unexpectedly ‘working’. Since I knew what the themes were going into this book, it was so fun to pick out the little nuances and symbolism. “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”

The games themselves were just another of those fantastically mechanical things that I love to read. Katniss clearly goes through somewhat stuttering phases (first thirst, then fireballs, then Rue, then Peeta, etc.), but somehow it’s still coherent enough to like. The themes with rebellion and playing pretend love to keep herself alive are surprisingly well-woven into the action itself.

I cannot stress how well Katniss’ love is conveyed, and it’s displayed in every move she makes–for her family, for her friends, everything she does to rebel against the Capitol’s grip. It’s so powerfully written that you can’t help but cheer for the heroine. She doesn’t come across as another ‘very strong girl protagonist’, but her character is so defined yet vulnerable.

One of the plot points I liked the most was Katniss’ relationship with Gale. They were the best of friends, a perfect pair, and ‘nothing romantic between [them]’. I personally envision finding friends like Gale, who are true friends, who truly love you, yet they don’t have to be your romantic relationship.

I think one strange, problematic thing with the Games is that you look at the rest of the thickness of the book (and, if you’re as late as me, the rest of the series), and observe how it’s all first person Katniss, and see how she cannot possibly be doomed to die. Although a lot of her thoughts are built on impending and seemingly inevitable death, it’s somewhat softened by this obvious ending. To compensate, Collins has to add enough twist to the ending of the Games so it’s not that predictable.

Overall, The Hunger Games is so worth a read. Although, as I’ve said already, I was indifferent and already completely spoiled when it came to the plot, the writing was nonetheless stunningly beautiful. Laced with diction, imagery, vocabulary choice, and more well-placed choices, it shows that Collins is a great writer.

In the coming days, I’m going to be working through Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I’ll likely not post about these, but I’ll be finishing. For the sake of finishing or because I now know Collins is a great author? We’ll see.

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Leisure Literature: The Hunger Games

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