The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Spoilers ahead.  Whenever I plan to see a movie that was based on a book, I like to read the book first.  The book will often make you appreciate the movie more and fill in a lot of the gaps.  I finally got around to reading this book.  Suffering from a fever, it was funny how I empathized with Peeta who also suffers a fever and hunger.  First of all, you know Katniss lives.  There are two more books in the series, and I know Jennifer Lawrence was in multiple movies.  So it’s just a matter of not knowing how she survived to the end.  There are two other important characters in the book, Rue, a waif who’s another contender and Peeta from her own District 12.  I like to look for deeper meaning in a book, so you can basically consider the book, Friend Zoning Games.  But it’s also about the expectations and demands we place on young women to navigate and survive in a male-dominated world.  Katniss is expected to fall for Peeta, and in fact, her survival may depend on it, but after acting the role, she gets confused about her feelings for Peeta, but I would bet that Peeta gets permanently friend-zoned.  I don’t like reading sequels, so I’ll just leave it at that. 

 While the book may be geared toward tween or teen girls, there is a lot of hardcore violence in the book, and the constant murders of other tweens and teens is hard to take, especially the innocent ones (the ones who use evasion to survive not murder).  The games themselves are manufactured for maximum entertainment, so throughout, certain things are manipulated.  It sort of reminds me of all the elimination reality shows on TV, and I would guess that’s where it got the inspiration.  But as the plot is manipulated by outsiders, you also get the feel that you are also being manipulated by the author.  I mean, it’s just convenient that the innocent ones don’t get left in the end to be picked off by Katniss but are rather picked off by the villains or their own folly.  What would have happened if Katniss and Peeta were left with Foxface and Rue?  The 387-page novel did its job.  Being too sick to work or do anything else, it was easy reading it all in one day.  There was nothing deeper than the friend zone or female expectation theme.  It was like just watching a long movie, and now I’ll put it on my Netflix list.  While you admire Katniss for her toughness and bravery, as well as for her caring of Peeta, ultimately, I felt more for Rue and Peeta.  From the beginning, Peeta is a purist and doesn’t want the Games to undermine his morals, but you get the impression that Katniss is more ruthless and simply has a single-minded desire to win, and ultimately, if Foxface and Rue were left, she might have knocked them off. 

 One plot hole is when she goes for her feast bag near the end, Clove chases her down and hits her in the forehead with a knife.  Out in the open, Katniss could have easily defeated Clove’s knife throwing with her arrow.  Right after, why didn’t Katniss confront Cato?  Sure, Clove hit her in the forehead with a knife, but it didn’t penetrate, and it just caused blood to drip in her eyes which she could have easily wiped away.  She says that he could have thrown his spear just as fast as her arrow, but this is not true.  Arrows are lighter and travel faster than spears, and she could have easily jumped out the way of the spear.  At the time, she also had several arrows and could have easily defeated Cato out in the open. 


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