“Embrace the probability of your imminent death….and know there is nothing I can do to save you.”
I read The Hunger Games without knowing anything about it. That seems like a strange thing to say now, in 2016, but I read it back in 2009 or 10, before its popularity really took off. I don’t think I even knew that it was the first of a trilogy. This review reflects that.
The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss, who lives in a dystopian future where twelve subordinate districts must send two young children every year to the Capitol to fight to the death on live TV. It is a story about children and young adults, but I have asked myself if it is really a story for them. As is to be expected, the themes are very dark. Children must kill children to survive, and it is seen as entertainment. But as you read on you realise there are also themes that young people can relate to – friendship, family bonds, and standing up for what you believe in.
Katniss’s relationship with the other tribute from her district, Peeta, is intriguing, because you can never quite tell how real it is. Was it all engineered by Haymitch? Were they ever friends? Are they enemies or lovers? The flashbacks to Katniss’s earlier encounter with Peeta, before they were selected for the games, really serves to shape her whole view of him.
There are interesting parallels to be made with the rise in popularity of reality TV today – it can be pretty cruel at the best of times, but one programme in particular has been criticised recently for using one of the contestant’s children as a prize to encourage them to complete a task. This might still be a far cry from watching children kill each other for the entertainment of the masses, but it’s still interesting to think about how far we are willing to go to provide the shock factor involved in “reality” television. The underlying thought behind the actions of Peeta and Katniss is the fear that they will be turned into monsters in front of the world, which is greater than their fear of death.
“I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only… I want to die as myself… When the time comes, I’m sure I’ll kill just like everybody else. I can’t go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.”
The character development in this book is strong, and I think it was that which encouraged me toread on. However I think The Hunger Games works as a stand alone book, and to be honest I quite like it that way.
“May the odds be ever in your favour.”