During the month of March, as part of a reading challenge this year, I manage to devour the Hunger Games trilogy.
I am not familiar with Suzanne Collins’ work, but her writing was so captivating, for lack of a better adjective.
I had never watched the movies. I made a deal with myself to read the books first, and I was not disappointed! I can’t remember the last book that made me obsess so much. I was really pulled into a different world and I finally get what everyone else was raving about it, even though it’s almost 10 years later.
I loved the way Suzanne Collins used practical descriptions in her book to create the images of the districts I saw in my head. She really made it relatable.
She wrote from Katniss’ perspective, and I really felt like I was in Katniss’ head. Taking things in as she was. So I think it’s fair to say Suzanne Collins is one of my new favorite writers, up there next to John Green and J.K Rowling.
It’s so great that she had a female protagonist in this story- especially because our world is still unlearning to put women in boxes. In a way, I think Katniss was still battling to believe she was a hero. People placed high expectations on her, and I don’t think she realised what she was capable of until the very end.
In many ways, I think a lot of women are like Katniss. We don’t realise our potential and it take something great to call that out of us.
So there was a lot of moments of personal reflection I had throughout reading this series, and writing this post counts as one of them.
I realised that the Hunger Games was ironically a book about food.
After reading book one, I realised that the Hunger Games was ironically a book about food. Man, I got really hungry every time Katniss described the food she was eating, even the lamb stew with the prunes, and I’m a vegetarian!
It also made Katniss seem like a real girl who gets hungry, like me. Again, that’s another example of how Suzanne Collins just shattered the limiting perceptions we have of women. Yey for women who get hungry and then eat with their hands!
Of the characters I will say that I was #TeamPeeta after the story about the bread. (See, they mention food a lot in this book). I always liked Gale. I thought he was great a friend to Katniss, but I knew there would have to be a twist in the story so I was vying for Peeta.
I will admit the love triangle situation was probably unnecessary, and it reminded me briefly about Twilight. But this book’s saving grace is that the love triangle was only a subplot and there’s a bigger story about a revolution going on here.
Haymitch was one of my favourites, I didn’t like him in the beginning but he really did that thing where he grows on you. Also, I think Suzanne Collins just gave him great lines. His like that family screw up, who’s not afraid to drop the truth even when it hurts. We need more people like Haymitch, except the part where he’s an alcoholic; no one should suffer like that.
I never had strong feelings about Effie Trinkett. I can’t say I liked her nor that I disliked her.
I liked who Prim becomes. So in the beginning, all we know is that she’s Katniss’ younger sister and that Katniss would give her life for her. But she’s not as helpless as Katniss makes her seem. I was disappointed at the end when Suzanne Collins killed her off anyway. I was like: “Whaaaaaaat?! Isn’t the point of Katniss volunteering to go into the arena to save Prim’s life the whole point of this story?” Anyway, so that sucked. Especially when Katniss had to return home, with no one. It’s like when the thing you try your best to stop from happening, actually happens.
So I guess that was an unexpected twist. At that point I thought Prim was safe, so well done to Suzanne Collins for making that happen. Honestly I was expecting her to kill off Gale. I was preparing myself for that.
So when Prim died, I was gutted. I’m still replaying exploding parachutes in my head.
Finnick – I like Finnick, because of his story. At first he seems really hardcore and like those annoying goodlooking people who have it easy. But he’s suffered and I kind of respect him for all his endured. It gives him some sort of humanity.
He’s also an example of many of the other loveable characters that died in this book. So after food, this book has a lot of death in it.
I was particularly fond of Cinna, Katniss’ stylist. I liked that they kept his presence in the book, even after his death.
I cried reading about Rue’s death. It was a strange experience for me. I’m used to books making me laugh out loud, so this was a different.
I liked Pollux, even though he didn’t talk. I like that he plays a really important role in the end and that he gets along with Katniss. He even gets her to sing the Hanging Tree.
The Hanging Tree
I love this song. I found an hour-long version of it on YouTube and kept listening to it. I had first heard it a few years ago when Mockingjay part one came out. I liked the tune of the song then, but remember I hadn’t watched the movies. So when I actually read the words in the book, I was like: “Woah! This is a really dark song. But I love it!”
I think the part on the book where Katniss explains how she felt about the song, was funny. Even though it was probably a serious point in the book, but she was really just unpacking her thoughts as a teenager. Still a beautiful song. I kept singing it myself.
I wrote out the lyrics on a notepad just so I could stop thinking about it! I know, it’s kind of strange to get excited about a song about death.
If I have a choice, I don’t usually do war stories. It takes a lot of convincing for me to watch a movie about a war, usually because they’re so long. The Hunger Games, although it culminates in a war at the end, didn’t feel laborious to read, I didn’t zone out in the action scenes, either. Again, that’s a testament to Suzanne Collins’ great writing.
It felt like a journey. This was a journey of Katniss’ transformation from the girl who hunted in the meadow at District 12 to a soldier.
Who is Katniss?
I like that Katniss changes. Who she changes into isn’t really great. She loses a lot of herself because of the terror she’s faced. Then again, she was always a bit depressed. I imagined the beating her body took and I don’t think mentally you’re alright after that. I liked the reality of that. Suzanne Collins didn’t try to brush over that with a happy ending.
At the same time, Katniss discovers she’s a survivalist. She’s a strong woman, looked death in the face a number of times. Killed a few people too. So yes, I’m okay with her brokenness. She has good reason to be.
She never really listens to orders but in the end there’s more conviction to her actions. So she’s always been a rebel. She’s definitely not presidential material.
Surprisingly she is someone who loves. Although she has a very strange way of showing that love. Near the end I thought she would end up alone and I was willing to accept that given everything else that happened. I was sketching out a future for her where she ends up like Haymitch, I know not the best but definitely plausible.
But I guess Suzanne Collins probably rescued that train of thought and brings us back to the beginning.
Katniss always loved the boy who threw her that bread, even if she didn’t recognise it in the beginning. I guess she’s the kind of person who had to go through this very treacherous journey which practically tore her soul apart to realise that she needs someone like Peeta to make her feel whole again.
Barf! I know that’s so cheesy, but that’s what happens, he’s the hope she needs to carry on living. If he had died, she surely would have died. Think about it, he was in the arena with her, he understood everything she had been through and somehow he still came out of it with a shred of hope. He’s Katniss’ sliver of light.
Besides, if she ended up with Gale, I think they would have killed each other, or they would have lived miserably, never getting past the war.
Where is Gale?
I know Gale gets a fancy job in District two. But seriously were is Gale? What is this fancy job? Is he still constructing bombs or was he so eaten with the guilt of building the bomb that killed Prim that he stopped doing it altogether?
Also he really loved Katniss. So does he fall in love again? Does he meet someone who loves him back. I thought his other option would be Madge, the mayor’s daughter, but that whole family died.
Then I remember, Suzanne Collins doesn’t have to tell us what happens to Gale. The story is not about Gale. The story is about Katniss. She is the hero. Again, as a reader I am being challenged to accept the completion of a story about a woman.
Also – I’m totally having a Hunger Games movie marathon before the year is over. #Mockingjay
And just because these words are equivalent to a Shakespearean soliloquy: