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.