Thursday, October 13, 2011

So I Read The Hunger Games

NOTE: This post is going to be 100% spoiler-free!


I've been interested in this trilogy for a while, so I was pretty hyped when I got book one from the library. When I actually read it, though, I really only started out of boredom.

Several hours later, I finished it. (Seriously, it's that difficult to put down.)

I thought, Now I feel bored out of my mind again.

I thought, I should've got all three books from the library at the same time. Really could've planned that a little better.

The next day, I went to the library's website and requested books two and three. They each had about fifty requests ahead of mine, but I figured that maybe, just maybe, all of those people were tearing through them as quickly as I had torn through the first.

The day after that, neither list had gotten any smaller, and both books had been requested by at least four more people after me.

"Alright," I said, "this is why Amazon exists."

So I had the entire trilogy delivered to my mailbox for about $30.00.

Honestly, I'm still kind of in shock. It's been less than twenty-four hours since I finished the final book (which, like the first, I read cover to cover almost without stopping).

First off, I can't believe this series is marketed to children. I mean, okay, the main character is "only" sixteen years old, but the story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where twenty-four children -- twelve boys and twelve girls -- aged twelve to eighteen are selected at random to be thrown into an arena. Where they fight to the death. On TV. The goriest bits of the "Games" are mandatory viewing. Our hero volunteers -- not because she has any desire to be killed or any desire to kill, but to take the place of her younger sister, the one person in the whole world who she's sure that she loves.

In the arena, as I said, the kids kill each other. They snap each other's necks and throw spears into each other's stomachs and shoot each other with arrows.

Clearly, this is the sort of fare kids should be reading.

I don't know, though. I mean, I'm not saying NO kids anywhere should ever read any of the books -- I'm living proof of the fact that, when parents do forbid their kids to read a certain series, that just makes the kids want to read that certain series even more -- I'm just saying that they are aimed at middle-schoolers. The oldest of whom are two years younger than Katniss. Who is plagued by nightmares even before she enters the Games. Because Panem, which used to be North America, is a police state and things are THAT bad. (Note: Katniss is one of the most badass characters in the entire series, and she still has nightmares.)

I'm just saying, if you're thinking of giving the books to your son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter/niece/nephew/godchild for the holidays because you know for a fact that he or she likes books, you should REALLY do a little research before wrapping them (you might even want to read them yourself) and ask yourself if the kid in question can handle them.

(I was reminded a lot of Animorphs, actually -- which, interestingly, was also published by Scholastic -- although I have to say that The Hunger Games are even worse, since the war that the characters find themselves caught up in is not against aliens. It's chilling because it could actually happen.)

The names are quite fun. If you know a bit more about etymology and/or ancient Rome than I do, you'll no doubt be amused. For example, the Capitol slaves who can't talk because they've had their tongues ripped out? They're called "Avox."

There is a love triangle, because of course there's a love triangle (actually, now that I think of it, that might have something to do with why Scholastic chose to market the books as "children's" literature). Now, normally, love triangles piss me off by default -- my reaction is usually something along the lines of YOU STUPID BITCH YOU HAVE TWO HOT GUYS WHO ARE BOTH COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH YOU AND YOU CAN'T JUST SHUT UP AND PICK ONE?! UGH I HOPE YOU GET EATEN BY PANTHERS OR SOMETHING -- but this one was actually very intriguing. Also, it was resolved the way I hoped it would be.

Even though Josh Hutcherson (swoon) is playing Peeta, I'm not sure if I'll be seeing the movie. I mean, I'm sure it'll be amazing, but . . . the books really are so violent -- the second is worse than the first, and the third is worse than the second -- that there's no way the movie can possibly get any rating lighter than PG-13 purely for violence and disturbing images (and possibly even gore). Which, you know, is good because it means they're staying true to the source material, but my point is that, while I enjoyed the story and wanted to see it through to the end, I was simultaneously seriously disturbed (see above, re: children killing each other on national TV). And that was bad enough to read about, you know? I'm quite a fan of action and violence and girls with axes and all that, but . . . humans killing other humans? Yeah, that tends to make me a bit squeamish.

That said, I haven't been reading any interviews in-depth or anything, but even from the little that I have absorbed, it sounds like everyone involved in the movie is going to be amazing. Particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

I won't go into too much detail because it's painful for me to talk about, but the books are set in a world where most people are starving and it's not uncommon to grow up and live and die without ever having enough food. So I kind of felt guilty about going to the grocery store.

There was one more point I wanted to make, but it escapes me now. Maybe it'll come to me in the middle of the night.

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