Reread: The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins
ages: 12+
First line: “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Others in the series: Catching Fire, Mockingjay

I caught the Hunger Games hype early (not as early as some, but earlier than others), reading it a few months after it came out. And because I did, I mostly just linked to others’ reviews, and gave you my thoughts. I haven’t picked the book up since then (though I did read the other two), though I did go see the movie the weekend it came out with C and M.

Then, it was our choice for our mother-daughter book group, and we decided to go with this one. I couldn’t pass up the chance to read it again.

First off: it lives up to a second reading. (I was actually worried about this.)

So, if you have been living under a rock, the basic plot is this: it’s sometime in the distant future, and the US has dissolved into a country with a capitol and 13 districts. Then, at some point, the districts rebelled against the domineering capitol. Except that they were defeated — the 13th obliterated — and the other 12 were made to give one girl and one boy as “tributes” to the Hunger Games: a contest of survival, where the winner is the last one left alive.

Katniss lives in the poorest of the districts, 12, and she’s making it by. Her father was killed in a mine accident, and she’s been single-handedly keeping her family — her mother, and her younger sister, Primrose — alive. So, when at the Reaping (when they choose the tributes), Primrose’s name is called, Katniss does the only thing she can do: volunteer to go in Primrose’s place. She’s off to the 74th annual Hunger Games.

I’ve heard Katniss called a strong heroine, and after this reading, I’m not sure I agree. Don’t mistake me: she’s a survivor. She will do anything to make sure she keeps herself, and those she loves, alive. It’s her sole purpose in life. But I’m not sure she’s a strong character, someone who takes charge, who’s proactive about herself and her future. No, she’s more a reactive type, someone who deals with situations thrown at her. Which isn’t bad, but that doesn’t mean she’s strong, in the typical sense.

The second thing I thought of is that all the hype about Team Peeta and Team Gale is really quite misguided. Sure, there’s romance, but really: Katniss is too busy surviving to really pay much attention to the boy, and while we think Peeta likes her, we’re getting everything warped from Katniss’s point of view. I like those who say they’re Team Katniss, because honestly: there’s just too much going on in her world for her to spend time on a luxury as romance.

But, overall: worth the reread. It’s still a book I’d recommend to people, as a commentary on reality television, on the hoplessness of war. It’s tight, action-packed, and still unputdownable. And you can’t beat that.

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5 thoughts on “Reread: The Hunger Games

  1. I've read this one several times and it has always lived up to reread for me. I really enjoy it. I would disagree with you about Katniss and strength, though. She may not be proactive, but that doesn't make her any less strong. The fact that she can survive that many punches and keep going is a testament to her strength.

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  2. Kelly: I agree. Which is why I'm not rereading the other two.

    And Amanda: I can see your point. And I agree: it's her being a survivor that makes her a strong character. But I'm not sure I'd want her as a role model. I should have been more specific: I've had several people tell me that the reason they love these books is because Katniss is “a strong female character for our girls.” And I'm not quite sure she is that.

    But, she does have an inner drive that's admirable.

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  3. Thank you for commenting on the team Gale/Peeta thing. Drives me crazy cuz' there really isn't a love triangle in the books. That's not what it's about people! *Rant over.* Personally, I'm team Finnick. Not in a ohmygosh he should be with Katniss sort of way, but a he's the best character in the series kind of way. 🙂 I guess I'm one of the few who really loved the other two books as well. Actually, the second might be my favorite. Dang it, now I need to go reread these…

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  4. Kristen, I am the same as you! I love Finnick, I think that he is fab! When we are first introduced to him in Catching Fire I really didn't like his character, but as the book developed I thought that he was really charming and lovely! I really enjoyed the second book as well, it really made me want to read on and on, especially the cliff hanger ending! I am dead excited to see the film version when it comes out next year! Although, where I differ from you, is that I was hooked into the books for the romance, and Peeta's love for Katniss. But that is probably just because I am a hopeless romantic! Over all though, I think that everyone can agree that it really makes you think! x

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