Re-Read: The Hunger Games

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

I mentioned last week that I was having some inspiration issues; both with my writing and with my reading. Well, hitting up THG is always a good solution for both of those. This is not the first time I’ve re-read the book (well, series because who can just read one), but I love how many new things I notice, or that stand out to me every time I re-read something.

While last time, it was story elements that really stood out to me, this time it was the writing. Obviously, we are all impressed with Collins, but this time her unique style really stood out to me. I mean when reading the book, there is a lot of telling rather than showing. Pages of Katniss’ internal dialogue explaining the complexities of the politics, the sentiments of people in the districts, her own feelings on things. But it works!! Just goes to show that you can break the rules if you can manage to do it in an amazing way.

Also, what I noticed this time is how though it’s told from a first person POV, it almost reads as if it’s third person. Katniss is so focused on her few goals in life – feeding her family, and staying alive in the games – that reading her reactions and emotional episodes seem detached from her. I loved this! I think this is one of the elements that really works to show how oblivious Katniss is to who she is as an individual. We readers understand what she’s feeling before she does, and then we watch with intense interest to see how and when she comes to the same conclusion.

I also have to say, I like Katniss more this time around than I have in the past. She’s an amazing character, but she seemed really unattainable to me before. I think part of this is the influence of the movies, they perpetuated that stoic and standoffish persona. However, I saw so much more humor in her this time around. I didn’t read it with the angst I had the first couple times, I read it as someone resigned to a life they had little control over, and making the best of it. I will maintain though that when Peeta is in the picture we see much more levity from her, and I love that about him (book Peeta is so much better than movie Peeta).

The other big aspect I picked up on was the lack of personal growth within Katniss in this installment. I mean when we meet her she’s a girl bent on the survival of her family. At the end she’s still that girl, but her family has grown a little. I’m not saying she doesn’t change, the games definitely have an impact on her, but I don’t think there is any real development with Katniss until we get into the second book, that’s when she starts to alter her perspective on the political environment, start to shift away from personal survival to change for the greater good.

Overall, I can feel my inspiration increasing, now to Catching Fire!

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