I love The Hunger Games. Unabashedly so.
Admittedly, I have a bit of a sorted past with various television shows, movies, games, and books. Some are love’em and forget’em, my pop culture one-night stands. Some I revisit when I get the urge, my pop culture booty calls. Some will always have a place in my life and my heart and at times my passion for them gets the best of me, my pop culture friends with benefits. Then every once in a blue moon I fall so in love with something that it becomes a part of me, these are my pop culture marriages.
My first marriage was with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy introduced me to what is means to be a fan. Buffy will always be my first love. Then came LOST. LOST started as a rebound but I instantly felt the connection and by the end of the first year I was head over heels. Sure, we had our rocky years when I didn’t understand “him” or where “he” was headed. In the end, I respected LOST and understood LOST on a deeper level.
Six weeks ago, I met The Hunger Games and my heart has been aflutter ever since. I finished all three books in the series in a scant two and a half weeks. Given my lack of free time that was a feat accomplished by many late nights. And it takes something very special to get me to forego sleep. While the first book is my favorite of the three, I felt that all three were needed in order to tell the whole story. When I was through with the books I was saddened that the story was over. I wasn’t ready to leave the characters. I was 100 pages into a new book when I put it down to re-read The Hunger Games. I need to stress how unusual a re-read is for me. I am a bibliophile in all senses of the word, my personal library holds over 600 books and if I hadn’t run out of bookshelves I would own more. I own several copies of my favorite books. I look at pictures of libraries for fun. But I have never re-read a book… until The Hunger Games.
It’s actually a little difficult for me to formulate the reasons how I love the series so much. Aside from saying, “I love everything about it!” I will try and give you a more detailed account of what exactly has captured me so.
Katniss Everdeen- A girl from District 12 that truly understands the hardship of life in Panem. Having suffered at the loss of her father and the emotional loss of her mother. She had no other choice but to shoulder the responsibility of caring not only for her unwell mother but also her younger sister, the one person whom she actually loves. In order to hide her pain and vulnerability she wears an uncaring mask and keeps others away at arm’s length. She’s resourceful and tenacious and courageous. Aside from her apparent lack of empathy I believe Katniss is a wonderful heroine and that is so nice to see in YA literature.
Panem- The world of Panem is richly imagined and revealed to the reader in a way that doesn’t read like a history lesson. Panem is our world taken to the bitter extreme. Scary and very believable. The oceans have flooded and re-shaped North America and a new society is formed. There are now 13 districts and The Capital that rules with an iron fist. The line between the haves and have-nots is replaced by a chasm.
The Games- The games are sick and twisted and heartbreaking. Each district is forced to send two “tributes” aged 12-18, one male and one female, each year to participate in The Hunger Games through a lottery called “The Reaping.” Only one tribute will leave the arena alive. The arena is elaborated crafted by a Head Gamemaster and includes dangers around every corner. From genetically-engineered “muttations” to challenging terrain the Head Gamemaster and his committee control every aspect of how these children die. They even go so far at to force the tributes into common areas to guarantee at fight to the death. The games while dreaded in the Districts is celebrated and treated like a spectacle by The Capital which televises everything from The Reaping to last one standing. The winner is then awarded with fame, fortune, and resources for his home district. The reasoning behind these annual games is to remind the citizens of Panem of a rebellion against The Capital that led to the annihilation of District 13. It’s The Capital’s way of saying, “If you rebel we will take that which is most precious to you… your children.” Did I mention that viewing of the games is mandatory for all citizens? Yeah, sick and twisted.
The Supporting Characters- You would be hard-pressed to name a character that isn’t fully realized in this series. Each showing their own journey without overshadowing Katniss’. For fear of spoiling any of the plot I will just name the characters that had a big impact on me in the course of the series. I’ll let you form your opinions of them in your own reading or watching of the movie.
So, if you haven’t already, read The Hunger Games! And then go watch the movie set to release March 23, 2012. The movie looks like it will be very true to the books and I am counting down the days. Here’s the latest trailer:
Also, check out the theme song Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars. The song is haunting and beautiful and a great fit with The Hunger Games story. I guess when Taylor Swift isn’t singing songs about being a Fairy Tale Princess or hating on a boy that broke her heart, she’s not half bad.
May the odds be ever in your favor.