Monday, February 20, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: About the Book

The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins
Pages 374


Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth,
Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Lenny Kravitz,
Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci
Release Date: March 23, 2012

About the Book

While Dystopian fiction is never going to be my first choice of reading material, The Hunger Games really snuck up on me. I borrowed a copy from a friend who had three teenage daughters, all of whom had read it long ago and were waiting for the paperback edition of the third book of the series to come out.
Series is the key word; I didn't realize that being the first book in a series meant the ending would be, well, not exactly the end!
That's probably my only complaint, the unsated curiousity about what comes next, my disappointment in Collins for leavin' me hangin'. That being said, the book was a wonderful surprise!
As most people reading this blog probably already know ....
The former United States, now Panem,  has been divided into 12 districts, each of which sends one boy and one girl to fight to the last person standing every year in the annual Hunger Games. This is all presumably so the Capitol can keep its people in line.
The story is told from Katniss pov. She's a somewhat embittered 16year old who hunts with her friend Gale to keep herself, her mother and young sister, Prim, fed. Her archery and survival skills come in handy when in a noble act of self-sacrifice she takes her sister's place as District 12's female 'tribute' and travels to the Capitol for to take part in the televised Hunger Games.
Peeta, the baker's son, is District 12's male 'tribute', a boy who has been kind to her in the past. But in the games he is her enemy too. Or is he?
I got a real kick out of the pair's arrival in the Capitol and the wonderful futuristic inventions. Who wouldn't want the ability to think of what you'd like to eat, and miraculously, it whooshes its way to you in mere moments. That's got to be better than Katniss usual existence of eating bark and squirrels!
And the description of the costumes she and Peeta wear for the contestant parade and the interviews are spectacular. I am curious to see how the costume designer and special effects people have teamed up to make those work!
Shepherding Katniss and Peeta through the process are the very p.c. and silly Effie Trinket and the pair's drunk mentor, Haymitch.  In the movie they are played by Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harreslson. Lenny Kravitz is Cinna - Katniss super cool stylist!
When they get into the arena, the tone changes as the battle begins immediately and the bodies start to pile up. Cinematically I think it's going to be a very suspense-filled, terrifying and pulsing with emotion. Some of the other tributes are cut-throat and blood-thirsty, others seem to have a more developed moral compass. Short-lived but important friendships are formed like the one Katniss forms with Rue, who reminds Katniss of her sister, Prim. Each night the contestants see who has died when their images are projected in the sky. The only trouble with that is since Collins has us seeing through Katniss' eyes only, we're not privvy to the other entanglements so we're not really emotionally invested either.
A big part of the books question is where the heroine's heart lies and it looks like Collins has set up a Team Gale vs Team Peeta equation. Gale is faster, and stronger. He's a great friend but a bit younger than Katniss. Too young?  But Peeta is handsome, brave, selfless and incredibly romantic. Who to choose? Who to choose? Who to choose?
It's great to see Katniss, the girl, be the strong one who looks after the guy rather than the other way around. What a marvelous role model for girls. That being said, with cutey pies Liam Hemsworth as Gale and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss would seem to have it made any way you look at it. If she can survive the games of course.
I would think this book would be too violent for grade school readers - and certainly the film will - but teens - especially teenage girls - and up should find it action packed and romantic.
I know I did and I will almost certainly read book two so I can satisfy my curiosity. Between you and me, I hope my guy wins.  :)

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