The Hunger Games – Book 1
I BREATHED these books.
I LIVED for them during the week that I read them.
And once I was finished, I MOURNED that there were no more.
(Yes, I am prone to exaggeration from time to time, but I imagine that there are a lot of readers who know EXACTLY what I mean by my hyperbole. BookElf reading the Fire and Ice series springs to mind – these books are compelling beyond the telling of it.)
Inspired in part by the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur (see Canongate Book 4), the war of Iraq, Reality television and heavily channeling Battle Royale; the world created by Suzanne Collins is at once vividly real and foreign to me. Not since the Harry Potter books (which to be fair, I started reading as a Youngling) have I felt so transported into a parallel world.
I loved Katniss – she is tough; dedicated; resilient and angry, my favourite qualities in a woman. Beyond that, she is terrified – as one of the district occupants she has been forced to watch the games ever since she was a little girl – she knows exactly what is ahead of her; resulting in her being both jaded and anticipatory.
I warmed a little more slowly to Peeta – I couldn’t understand how he could be so warm and human when faced with such a rotten scenario. Eventually though; his determination to fight fair, his determination that he would remain himself, his faith that everything would turn out alright despite overwhelming odds won me over. It’s hard to hate hope – and that to me was what his character embodied. Hope that he would survive, hope that Katniss would one day return his affection; hope that humanity and decency would see him through in a world that seemed determined to wipe both characteristics out.
Haymitch – the alcoholic tutor (and only other District 12 surviver) was Peeta’s perfect antidote. Cynical, mean-spirited and with more than a pinch of cruelty, every scene he was in was brightened by his presence. Although it rapidly became clear that Katniss was his natural successor; he certainly didn’t relish the role – I loved his uncompromising honesty with her.
I think that my favourite character throughout the book was that of the stylist Cinna (and his dappy assistants!). His motives were difficult to fathom…for no visible reason he was determined to see Katniss as more than a mere contestant, to present her in her best possible light. He seemed to get under her skin in a way no one but (the barely there) Gale could. Additionally, he LIKED her. Which no body – least of all Katniss herself – expected. His assistants were truly vacuous – but perfectly embodied the morals – or lack thereof – of the Capital. They liked Katniss but were also totally planning to watch her die on live television. Twisted little shits right? Not from their point of view – they were just being good citizens!
There are very few people that I wouldn’t recommend this book too. It’s very well written, vivid and imaginative. So very very good. The next person you see gushing on twitter about this will be ME!
*Bullying is wrong m’kay – I was encouraged really. Respect the narrative flow much does apply, but I felt bound to point out that my wonderful twitter mates would never actually be mean to me.