I can’t really say why I was hesitant to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Sure, I have a few ideas, like not being able to get over the fact that Twilight fans rave about it (sidenote, how is it that Stephanie Meyer’s praise of its literary clout considered valid or flattering?), or how large a craze it became, or how I’d be late to the Hunger Games game (harhar), or how I didn’t really want to spend any money on a franchise that had been shoved so far down my age group’s throat, but none of those should have really held me back from digging into it. How did I end up reading it if I had convinced myself that it wasn’t worth my time? Well, my mother borrowed it from one of her friends and I figured “eh, what the hell?”
I’m glad I read it.
Anyone who has any connection to media knows what The Hunger Games is about. It’s about 24 kids elected to fight to the death in a gladiator-esque test of wits and strength, all in the name of entertainment. America is now known as Panem, constructed after an unspecified apocalyptic event. It’s made up of the wealthy Capitol and the twelve surrounding poorer Districts, that the Capitol takes pleasure in shitting on in inventive and cool ways, that is, if cool were defined as psychopathic and bloody. Society is all out of whack and beauty, wealth and commercialism rule the nation.
Every year, kids ages 12-18 are at risk of being randomly drawn into the Hunger Games, which the Capitol puts on to remind them all of who has more money/bigger dick. The lucky ducks who are picked (one guy and one girl from every District) are called “tributes.” People can volunteer to be a tribute, but since fighting to death doesn’t sound like a good time, it doesn’t happen very often.
Our main character is Katniss Everdeen of District 12. She ends up in the games when her younger sister (Primrose), who she loves more than life, has her name drawn for the games. Katniss volunteers as tribute by saying “I volunteer as tribute!” As she takes the stage a second name is chosen and it goes to a baker’s son named Peeta Mellark. They’re taken to Capitol where they explore their ~feelings~, meet the other tributes and get ready to kill some people—after all, only one can remain standing.
Truthfully, I think Katniss is kind of annoying for most of the book, and several times I found myself rolling my eyes at her internal monologue. I had to take many moments to remind myself that she grew up in insane poverty, has trust issues, and was forced to become a killing machine to survive—I probably wouldn’t be the most likable person under those circumstances either, besides, she’s a pretty smart cookie and I can respect that. At the very least, she stayed a consistent character, and because I was imagining Jennifer Lawrence playing her (damn you Hollywood!), when Katniss was in a (understandably) bad mood, all I could think of was this:
and I could get over it.
I was really surprised by how much fun I had reading Collin’s dystopian nightmare. Is it the best book I’ve ever read? Nope. Is it predictable? Definitely. Is it fun brain candy? Yes. If you’re interested in losing an afternoon to a book, this should be an easily digestible contender.