Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games [paperback] $5.39

I kept hearing a lot about The Hunger Games from watching TV or reading Entertainment Weekly online. I thought nothing of this movie because for some reason I thought it was based on a video game, and I do NOT like video games (well, unless they're Super Mario or Just Dance). So when my coworkers suggested that I read the books, I was skeptical. Then they told me what it was about - kids who are forced to fight each other to the death. Hmm. This did not sound like my kind of book. I usually like chick lit and stories that tie up in a pretty bow in the end. But my coworker insisted that I read this book, even sending a copy to my classroom, so I thought, "Oh, what the hell, why not?" Within the first few pages of this book, I was hooked. It's just so different from any other book or even story that I've heard before.

The book takes place at an unspecified time in the future. Even though we don't know what year the events take place, one thing is certain - the future is very bleak. The world as we know it today no longer exists.  The people of Panem (formerly known as North America) are divided into 12 districts. Everyone is poor and lives in such meager conditions - no hot water (unless you boil it yourself), not enough food to feed an entire family. But the worst part of it all are the Hunger Games for which the book is named. The Hunger Games are the Capitol's way of preventing a rebellion against the government. Once each child turns 12, their names are placed in a drawing. Each year, the 12 districts hold what's called a "reaping," where one girl and one boy are randomly selected to participate in the Hunger Games. Therefore, 24 children participate in the games - an event which takes place in an arena and the children must kill one another in any means possible to survive. Meanwhile, their families and all the citizens of Panem watch from their homes, as the games are televised. Of course, this is torture for the families and friends of the victims, but for others, this is their ultimate form of entertainment. The last child standing basically wins money and honor for their district. The way these children are taken from their families and forced to fight each other to the death is the Capitol's way of reminding the people of Panem that they are in charge and they should never dare act out against them.

I don't want to spoil the book for you, but if anything I wrote above sounds intriguing, then I would definitely recommend this book for you. It really is an exciting read and you tend to develop an emotional investment in the characters, even though of course it's all fiction. There are three books in the series by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. I am currently reading the second book. It took me a while to get my hands on a copy because they are always checked out at the library, but thankfully, one of my coworkers let me borrow theirs. I am feverishly trying to get through these books because I want to read for myself how the series ends before someone accidentally spoils it for me!

The movie adaptation comes out March 23, 2012. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I want to watch this. For one, the books are pretty graphic and with my crazy imagination and paranoia, that's enough for me. I don't know if I'd want to actually see the events of the book play out in a movie. Also, the actors they cast for the main characters were a bit disappointing for me. Maybe that's why books always seem better than the movies - because someone else's interpretation of a book tends to pale in comparison to how you envisioned the characters, places, events, etc. However, the actress Jennifer Lawrence, who is set to play the main character, Katniss Everdeen, is EXACTLY how I pictured she would look in the book, so that's a plus. But regardless of the actors they cast, I'm hoping the movie does this book justice.

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