Friday, September 9, 2011

Books: The Hunger Games Trilogy

I started the Hunger Games thinking, how in the world could I ever relate to this narrator Katniss Everdeen? 

She is the daughter of a miner who lost his life in a tragic accident leaving her to her constantly grieving incapable mother and her innocent wide eyed younger sister Prim. As the self administered head of household she must support herself in a dystopian society. In other words the government sees all, knows all, and you cannot by any means disobey the rules or face a most imminent and deadly punishment. But inevitably Katniss does disobey the rules by going to hunt with life long friend Gale (who was also left to support his large family). Hunting is a risk they must take in order to feed both their starving families. Luckily, Katniss and Gale are not caught due to the Capitol's ignorance toward District 12 over the past few decades. District 12 is Katniss' home and it makes up one of 12 districts the Capitol controls. Each district has different purposes; some provide coal (like District 12) others agriculture, fish, weaponry, you get the idea. It's basically a machine that needs all of its parts to run. However, there was a time when things went awry. District 13 revolted 74 years ago and the Capitol made sure to destroy it. To remember this event and remind the people of Panem (the nation that makes up the districts) to never disobey the government, a televised Hunger Games is broadcast every year as a sort of twisted anniversary. 

The Hunger Games features twenty four tributes; a boy and girl from each of the 12 districts who are chosen in a biased lottery system and must compete in a specially designed arena. It is a televised fight to the death and the last person standing wins. 
This trilogy will surprise you. I struggled through the first few chapters of the first novel as they are dense with information about this society. But those chapters really set the stage for everything to come. The trilogy is beautifully woven together and plays well on understanding human emotions and logic. After starting the second book Catching Fire, I became engulfed in the story reading straight through to the end of Mockingjay, the third book. 
When thinking about this trilogy, the world is not that unrealistic. The government is not unlike many governments that have been in place over history **cough cough** Hitler's Germany or even some of the widely controversial governments in place today. 

Most of the novels are built around the human spirit and will to survive. What and how much you will give up to save yourself and others, despite the costs. It also challenges the ideas of what's right and wrong when morality is part of the equation. The best part to me is the questioning of whether something is justified because it has been previously allowed to happen. Throughout these books you realize, you can very easily connect to Katniss. On the most primitive level she is struggling to survive all the while trying to help her family and friends in whatever way possible. 
I highly recommend The Hunger Games. You will be surprised by how much you can relate and how much it will give you to think about. I'm in no way saying you will love the series as it can be brutally tough at times. But it is well worth the read and you will be glad you did.

The film of the first book is scheduled for release March 23, 2012. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. 

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