The Morning After: The Hunger Games

3 Jun

Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking freely about the book toward the end of this post, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want me to ruin it, don’t read in between the lines! I also apologize that its a little lengthy.

I’ve been meaning to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for quite some time. Its been recommended to me by all sorts of people, and I usually don’t read a book any time near the opening of a movie, but I had to make an exception for this one. It was recommended so highly, that it was very necessary.

This book was phenomenal. I’ll be honest and say that it was hard to get started on, but once I found my footing, I couldn’t stop reading! It was probably around chapter 7 when it finally picked up and grabbed my interest fully, and then once it got to probably chapter 10 or 12, I couldn’t stop reading. I finished the last 11 chapters of the book last night, in one setting. That alone tells you that its a good read.

The Hunger Games is set in North America, some time in the future after what we know of life has been completely lost – think 1984, Brave New World, orThe Handmaids Tale. Collins does an excellent job creating the imaginary nation, Panem, for the readers right down to what each of the 12 districts specializes in, what foods they eat, and how their actions differ. The world that she creates is a harsh one – at least for our main character, Katniss – and causes the reader to question morals, entertainment, and government. This world is definitely not too far fetched for any reader to believe as a possible ending for the one we live in today, and that is one of the biggest things that attracted me to this book. If you love post-apocalyptic novels, this is one for you.

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The story opens with Katniss, waking up and going into the woods to hunt with her friend, Gale, on the day of the reaping. This is the day where the two tributes from each district are selected – one boy and one girl – to battle it out to the death in what are the hunger games. As we are introduced to her, her family, and her story, we come to understand how drastically different Panem is from the nations we are familiar with now. The Capitol controls the districts with the hunger games, by forcing them to enter the names of their children, in hopes that they will win and bring wealth and pride to their respective district. Katniss’ district, District 12, is a poor one, with only one winner to show in all the years that the hunger games have been happening. We also learn what matters most to Katniss: her sister, Gale, and feeding her household. She is a master archer and hunter, and uses this to bring food to the table to feed her mother and sister, and to sell at market to buy other necessities.

At the reaping, which is supposed to be a celebration, we learn that each child gets one entry for each year they are over 12. 12 year old children get one entry, 13 year old children get two, and so forth until age 19. This is mandatory, but children are also able to give more entries, in exchange for food. Its all cumulative, so Katniss ends up with 20 entries at the age of 16, and Gale has 42 entries at the age of 18. Our first encounter with who Katniss is deep down is her action when her 12 year old sister, Prim, gets selected as the female tribute. She can’t allow it, and instead takes her place.

We also meet Peeta, the male lead in our story and the male tribute from the district. Peeta, the bakers son, and Katniss know of each other, and we discover that Peeta provided Katniss with food once, to which she still feels in debt. Katniss’ thoughts are conflicted about what she owes him, knowing that her life may not last longer, and understanding that she may have to kill him.

They take them off to the Capitol, where they put on a tremendous show for the viewers of the hunger games, who will place bets and decide who to sponsor. There are interviews, numerous costumes, and a lot of anxiety for the coming days. During their preparation for the games, we start to see a relationship, however weak, develop between Katniss and Peeta.  Its hard to put your finger on what it is right away, but you know there is something there, lying just under the surface.

As the games come closer, the tension rises. During Peeta’s interview, he admits he is in love with Katniss. As far as Katniss is concerned, its just a ploy to get more sponsors and to make them appealing to the audience, but its hard to dismiss his feelings as false.

Once they are transported to the arena, their relationship changes drastically. Katniss seems to get betrayed by Peeta, who joins the Careers (pledges whowant go participate in the hunger games, and have been training for it for years). Its at this point that this book really picks up. The pace has become gradually faster, and more exciting, but once the games actually begin, the pace is fast, and easy to read. I found myself fighting the urge to skim over large portions just to know what happened.

The tributes get picked off one by one – some more gruesome than others – but remarkably I found the detail of each death to be very modest. Don’t get me wrong, the detail was great, but it wasn’t over the top. It wasn’t shocking, and that might be what makes this book even better. It didn’t need over the top visualization of each intricate wound to make it readable.

Then everything changes. It is announced that two tributes from the same district can win, making it possible that Peeta and Katniss won’t have to kill each other. This is perfect for the “star-crossed lovers”. Katniss immediately sets out to find Peeta, who is believed to be badly injured, so that they can collaborate. This also means that when Katniss thought Peeta saved her life, it wasn’t a hallucination. She finds him badly injured, and camouflaged, waiting to die. He has a terrible infection, multiple stings, and the wound on his leg is unable to be fixed. Peeta comments multiple times about how she is more than welcome to kiss him. Eventually, she plays along and realizes that he is being smart to try to lure in the audience. The viewers are the only ones that can fix Peeta’s leg.

From here on they love each other and fight for each other. Katniss works her hardest to bring Peeta back from the brink of death, and almost dies herself when she battles it out with the other tributes as she tries to get medicine for Peeta. Once she gives him the medicine, she wakes up some length of time later to find Peeta taking care of her, and finds comfort in his arms and in the strength they pull from each other. They use each other to stay warm at night, and eventually they make it to the final battle. They survive, and should be dubbed the winners, but they aren’t. They choose to take their own lives, and are stopped just before their charade fails them. They won. I knew that she would win, because thats just how it would be, but I’m SO GLAD that Peeta won too. I would have been devastated.

They go back to the Capitol, get fixed, and put on their lovers charade once more. Katniss plays along wonderfully, but is faced with conflicting feelings of how she feels about Peeta and how she feels about Gale, and they don’t seem to resolve. Then, she and the reader find out that what Peeta feels is not a charade. He actually loves her. Katniss mentions how wonderfully Peeta’s acting skills are to him, and I can only imagine how his heart dropped.

The book ends with Peeta, upset with Katniss, and Katniss still dealing with what her real feelings are. They don’t get resolved, and the book ends.

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Once I finished, I realized how upset I was at their situation. I’ve fallen for Peeta, I must say. He reminds me of a friend of mine, for reasons unknown, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’m a little upset that Katniss thought the whole thing was being made up. I understand that neither of them actually, really addressed it, and that they are both new to matters like this, but its so frustrating! I went to bed shortly after I finished, but I couldn’t sleep. I just kept mulling their situation over and over in my head. They feelings they gave me, and how they weren’t real for me, just seemed to trouble me so much I couldn’t sleep.

I woke up this morning feeling remarkably better. I don’t think I’m going to see the movie until I’m done with the trilogy, or maybe even at all. I don’t know if its the feelings the book gave me, the fact that I naturally try to fight the bandwagon urge, or something else, but as much as I want to read the next book, I almost feel that it can wait. I don’t feel pressed to read it right away.

Overall, it was a great book! I’d give it probably 4 out of 5 stars because its good, but whatever it may be that is stopping me from being driven to read the second book brings it down a little (I’m also really hard to get full points from). Other than the unresolved issue that the book ends with, most everything else is resolved. We aren’t supposed to see the full extent of the aftermath, so not knowing what happened to Gale and Prim and her mother isn’t a big deal. I do have one burning question, though.

What happened in Peeta’s training? Its hinted at a few times, but it doesn’t really make sense as to why he was trained by himself. Why keep it from Katniss?

I still feel a little upset, but hopefully that will cease soon.

Have you read The Hunger Games? Seen the movie? Plan on doing either? What did you think about it? Did the end make you feel like I felt? Whats your take on Peeta’s training? The fun part: how do you imagine each of the characters?

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One Response to “The Morning After: The Hunger Games”

  1. jules1310 June 3, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Nice article! Cool blog :)

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