Thursday, June 9, 2011

Literary Thursday: The Hunger Games

After a long absence, I am finally able to blog about books again!!! I started reading a biography book on Hunter S. Thompson, but it was taking me so long that I stopped reading it (for now) when I was 2/3 finished. Then about a week and a half ago, I started reading a Stephen King novel- my very first one. I was really getting into it, but then a coworker of mine offered me to borrow a book series that I have been interested in. So I delayed Mr. King's novel. Less than a week later, I finished the first book of The Hunger Games series.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It is sometime in the future, and what used to be North America is now a nation called Panem. Panem has a Capitol that is surrounded by thirteen districts (one was obliterated 74 years ago) that specialize in certain trades, like agriculture, textiles, or weapons. Every year The Hunger Games is held, where a boy and a girl (between the ages of 12 and 18) from each district are sent to the Capitol to train and fight one another to the death until only one person is left standing.

In District 12, Katniss Everdeen and her sister Prim head to the name drawing ceremonies. As Prim's name is called, Katniss does the unthinkable. She steps in to participate in the Hunger Games herself. Before she knows it, she is on her way to the Capitol with Peeta, the male district representative, and the rest of the team to begin what could be the finals days of her life.

When I first heard about this series, I was intrigued. The target audience is young adults and there is a lot of violence. Once I started reading, I knew I was in for a great adventure.

The first thing I loved about the book was that my mental images of the districts were a mix of modern day and medieval times. It is supposed to take place in the future, but the way the Capitol has taken over the people, they have used a lot of measures seen from the past. For example, the districts are enclosed in chain link fencing, with electricity coursing through it. When someone publicly speaks ill of the Capitol or does something illegal (like hunting), they can be publicly humiliated in the square by the Peacekeepers (law enforcement) or killed.

When Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of District 12 get to the Capitol, I am imagining a world similar to The Wizard of Oz/ The Wiz. What I mean by this is that all the districts surrounding the Capitol are very drab, dark, and simple. The Capitol stands out with it looking flawlessly new, well maintained, and technologically advanced. Katniss and Peeta, who are accustomed to small amounts of food, are amazed at the selection and richness of the meals provided to them. It takes them a little time to get accustomed to their new diet, but they enjoy it heartily. When Katniss is working with Cinna, her fashion designer for the ceremonies in the Capitol, I am imagining that the dresses and outfits she wears are very similar to what Lady Gaga wears today. Some of the clothes involve optical illusions and light fixtures, so to think Gaga is not far fetched at all.

Then, the Hunger Games begin. The setting of the games itself have that unique mix of future and past. The scene is in a wooden forest, full of creatures, deadly insects, and natural vegetation. However, there are hidden cameras to document all the tributes while fighting to the death. The Capitol also has control over the weather. They can make it rain or have excruciating heat as they please. They also have control of the water and wildlife (which toward the end of the games, the water supply "dries up," forcing the remaining tributes to come together in the center of the arena. The fights and deaths of the tributes are very real, graphic, and barbaric. The author does an excellent job with detail that I was able to get a very clear image of how each person dies. It was exciting, yet disturbing.

Although I was hooked from the first chapter, it took me a few more chapters to really get into it. I finished this book in less than a week. I was impressed beyond my own expectations for this book and have already started on the second book, Catching Fire (actually, I am almost done reading that one). I recommend this to my fellow bookworms and anyone that is looking for a great read that will be hard to put down once you start. I also recommend this to anyone that has seen the movie The Condemned... the "fight to the death while being filmed" concept is essentially the same thing. Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Oh, yes... this pic of a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly. Yes, the book series is in the process of becoming movies. The first book is currently being filmed. They plan to make four films (excellent idea) and now that I've read the books, I am excited to see how it will look visually!

See you guys next Thursday, when I review Catching Fire!!!

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