“Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death.”
It is typical for me to be ages behind with the best books no matter how everyone is raving about it. Though being left behind is actually a blessing, it meant that I don’t need to wait for the next installment of the series every year and I don’t have to worry much about giving spoilers in my review. As much as I want to hurry this review and just pick up the next book, Catching Fire I can’t suppress my thoughts about this book. It’s overflowing right now and I don’t even know where to start.
“Happy Hunger Games!
And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
The story set in the nation of Panem, which lies in the post-apocalyptic ruins of North America. At its heart is the Capitol, the center of power and money. The Capitol is surrounded by twelve Districts that supplies sources of its wealth. The Capitol exerts its power over the nation by hosting the annual Hunger Games. Every year two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve to eighteen from each District are selected to take part in the Hunger Games. This game is a televised battle where participants called tributes fight to death and only one must survive. There is no option. Kill or be killed.
I am surprised how compelling the plot is, it’s not original but there were moments when I was able to get absolutely lost in the story and felt as if I was there with Katniss inside the arena or with the other televiewers watching the tributes play the game of survival.
Katniss Everdeen really stands out as a character. She is smart, brave, selfless and a real survivor. You could throw anything at her, and she would come out stronger than ever. She is able to think fast and act quickly. But she’s not all tough which makes her more real. She’s not all good handling her emotions especially about how she feels for Peeta and Gale. She also shows concerns and affection to other tributes which is not a good thing if you want to survive inside the arena. But I must say, her bonding with Rue is one of the best thing that was developed in the story. I love the connection that they had with each other. The hardest part was knowing that one of them had to die. The gripping part was wondering how it would happen. The friendship and alliances made throughout the story is one of the best part of the book.
As for Peeta Mellark, I enjoyed the mystery of his character and how the little things about him were revealed at a slow pace. It makes him more interesting. He is such a lovely person and so kind to everyone. His feelings for Katniss seams so real and I wish I can get a glimpse of what he is thinking.
Then there is Gale Hawthorne, Katniss bestfriend and hunting buddy. I loved the ease Katniss had with him while they were out hunting at the beginning. Gale wasn’t present much in this book but while reading I kept on thinking what is his reaction on the game. Seeing Katniss fight to survive and watching Katniss fall in love with Peeta inside the arena would definitely seem strange and hard for him.
Katniss and Peeta inspite of differences were perfect match for the game. They certainly worked the game to their full advantage. But I did imagine how will it be if Gale was with Katniss in the arena instead of Peeta. Given the fact that Gale and Katniss were both hunters and survivors, it is convincing enough that they can survive in the arena but maybe it won’t be much easy for both of them. I wonder if Katniss and Gale can turn the odds in their favor too. Will the star-crossed lovers tactic will work with them as well?
What Lies Beyond The Hunger Games Battle
The emphasis in class differences is very vivid in the story. It shows what kind of culture the Panem has. How each district is catagorized between highest social elite and the dirt poor. Katniss has lived a life being hungry, subsisting on a diet of squirrels, goat cheese and roots. Even Katniss’s fellow tribute, the baker’s son Peeta, who’s seems in a middle class family grew up on a diet of stale bread. Meanwhile in the Capitol, you can get any kind of food you wish by just pushing a button.
From the beginning of the story we see how people offer their lives in exchange of others. Katniss offers herself to be a tribute instead of her sister Primrose. Peeta is willing to sacrifice himself to protect Katniss in the arena. Then there is also Haymitch, we only see him as a mentor to Katniss and Peeta who is always drunk. But Haymitch offers his own sacrifices too – as a previous victor of the game his task is to mentor the next future tributes. That wouldn’t be easy. Imagine getting to know these kids, coaching them, hoping for victory and then watch them die. Year after year, that has been his fate that’s why he resolve to drinking. He also choose to live in solidarity, he never marry and have kids because he knows one day his kids will be part of the game too and that is not something to look forward.
- Politics and Government
The government of Panem is a totalitarian one, which means that it has absolute power over its people. The main reason that they do The Hunger Games every year is because the Capitol or the government wants to send a message to the public that they are in control of them.
“The news sinks in.
Two tributes can win this year, if they’re both in the same district.
Both can live.
Before I can stop myself,I call out Peeta’s name”
When the Capitol suddenly change the rule of the game, announcing that there will be two teenagers who can survive the game then at the end they switches back the rule again to where only one can survive, it shows how powerful the government is. How they can manipulate minds of their people in order to get what they want, when they want it. Imagine living in this kind of world, where free will doesn’t exist, people are not treated as individual who has own merit and value.
The story shows humanity’s survival at its finest, and on the other hand – at its worst. During the battle, tributes not just fight for life. They also fight internally for the will to kill or not in order to survive. Katniss struggle so much to kill any tributes but she knows she must, but this fight is not only about her own life, it also concerns the life of others she love both outside and inside the arena. The quest to keep her souls, while those around her are losing theirs is not an easy battle. So the question is – “Is it worth to forsake her humanity in order to win?”
- Reality Show
“Why don’t they just kill him?” I ask Peeta.
“You know why,” he says, and pulls me closer to him.
And I do. No viewer could turn away from the show now.
From the Gamemakers’ point of view, this is the final word in entertainment.
Reality shows is not a stranger to us and Hunger Games is no different, it is just a brutal version – group of teenagers killing each other in order to survive. But the saddest part is how viewers enjoy watching other people suffer. As if life is just part of their entertainment. I wonder, if is this a kind of reality show we will have in the future? I really hope not.
This book is more than just a game of life and death. It is a story of friendship, love and sacrifices. It shows a complex vision of reality – from politics, culture and morality. A very compelling book that gives a glimpse of a possible future if we don’t be careful in choosing our path.