Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Oh My Gosh!! This Book is So Good!!": Hunger Games Trilogy

Right before I moved to Denver in 2008, my best friend Lew was constantly bugging me to read the Twilight series.  I continually refused, because despite my unfailing love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (thanks to another Main Gay), I'm not really into this paranormal trend taking every genre by storm.  However, when everyone started losing their shit about the first movie coming out I decided it was time to get on board the crazy train to Vampireland. 

In a kind of related note, I was browsing wall posts between Lew and I on Facebook and found this post from November 2008 regarding Twilight:

My ignorance regarding Robert Pattinson and Twilight is pretty adorable.  If I had only known about my obsession and subsequent shame that was to follow.  

So yeah.  I read the Twilight series and I loved it.  Now before you get all hot and bothered, I realize that Stephanie Meyer is a terrible writer, Bella is a awful role model for young girls, and Edward and Bella's relationship is pretty True Life: I'm in an Unhealthy Relationship.  But, for a couple of months I was so consumed by this story, I would read the book at traffic lights and stalk Robert Pattinson on the Internet.  Despite all it's problems, Twilight is a compelling story and obviously a lot of people agree with me.  Plus, it got a lot of people who wouldn't normally pick up a book to read, which is okay by me. 

"Hi, I'm Bella and I can't decide which super hot guy I should marry even though I'm only 18 and one of them is a werewolf and one is a vampire."
After my obsession with Twilight, I was a little reluctant to immerse myself in another emotionally draining (yep, I was a little drained by the Bella, Edward, and Jacob love triangle, so what?) young adult book trilogy.  Unfortunately, Lew and all my library friends wouldn't stop talking about Hunger Games (2008)by Suzanne Collins and I was feeling a little left out.  Then, they started casting the movie with total hotties (Liam Hemsworth? Yes, please.) so I finally broke down and bought the first book in the series (Hunger Games) for my Kindle.  What followed was another reading bender.  

So a little background about the series.  The trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from an unidentified future time living in Panem.  Panem is a nation consisting of a Capitol and 12 outlying districts that was developed after the destruction of North America.  Each district has a specific trade or specialty that provides the people of the Capitol with everything they need to survive.  Katniss lives with her mother and sister in District 12, a coal mining district formerly known as the Appalacian Mountains.  Life in District 12, and really all of the districts, is incredibly awful with people actually starving to death.  After her father's death in a mining accident, Katniss' mother kind of lost it, so Katniss is primarily responsible for making sure her family has food.  She does this by hunting in the forest with her BFF (and total babe who is also kind of in love with her) Gale.  

In order to keep the districts in line and prevent an uprising, the Capitol selects a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in a annual televised event called the Hunger Games.  During the Hunger Games the contestants fight to the death until only one remains.  (BTW, I should probably mention that this book gets a little intense) If you win Hunger Games, you and your family live the high life for the remainder of your days and your District gets extra food.  Totally crazy, right? 

So it's pretty obvious from the start that Katniss is going to have to be a participant in the Hunger Games.  Her fellow District 12 participant is Peeta, the baker's son who gave Katniss bread once when she was starving and crying in the street.  Other than this interaction, Katniss doesn't really know him that well, but their relationship will intensify rather quickly (as relationships do when you're in a life or death situation...at least in books and movies).   I'll just say now that Peeta is totally my favorite character.  It's apparent that Ms. Collins is setting up a love triangle ala Twilight between Gale, Peeta, and Katniss, but I was all about Peeta from the very start, despite knowing that Liam Hemsworth is playing Gale (have I mentioned I love Liam Hemsworth?).  

Totally hot even though he dated Miley
Well, Peeta and Katniss are soon shipped off to the Capitol for the Hunger Games and things get real crazy, real fast.  I love me some crazy (um, the Real Housewives anyone?) so I was completely engrossed.  I wanted to find out what happened to the main characters so desperately, that I couldn't read this book quickly enough.  I tore through it like a madwoman and when I finally finished at 1:30 am, I immediately purchased book two in the series, Catching Fire.  Over the course of the next two days, I finished this book and the final book in the series Mockingjay.  

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of the science-fiction genre.  In fact, while employed at Barnes and Noble I spent a lot of time making fun of the people that were (I've since changed my snobbish ways).  However, I didn't find this book to be too "science fictiony" (yeah, that's not a word) or weird for my taste.  And actually not being a fan of the genre probably helped, because most of the criticism I've read about this book is in regards to it's predictable sci-fi tropes.  Not being an avid reader of sci-fi, I didn't recognize or care about these.  

I know that some of you are going to be like, "Well Georgie.  I can handle a little sci-fi, but I really can't handle kids killing each other."  Okay, that's valid.  The concept of the Hunger Games is incredibly messed up and I was often a little overwhelmed by the violence in the book.  However, the Games and their intensity give the story a much bigger emotional punch, so it seemed worth it to me in the end.  

So, what is my best argument to get you to read this book?  Well this anecdote is incredibly embarrassing, but also quite indicative of how consuming the Ms. Collins' can be.  I had to have some dental work done just days after finishing the series.  My dentist, while preparing to drill my tooth, told me to think of something that makes me happy and I immediately began thinking about the Hunger Games.   Embarrassing, right? But also true.  I promise that if you read this book, you will have an equally embarrassing moment.  Pick it up and let me know what you think!


  1. So, I could talk about Hunger Games all.day.long. because I loved it so much. I was teaching school last fall and trying to read it at the same time. Epic fail. As I surreptitiously snuck pages of a book during passing period, I realized that perhaps I was not completely mentally prepared to teach. Anyway, quick question for all the fans: was anyone else a little let down by Mockingjay? I just loved Kantiss for being such a badass and then she seemed a little less of a b.a. in the last book. Let me know if I am the only one who felt bummed out by Mockingjay!

  2. I became completely obsessed with the HG triology this spring. So.freaking.good. I read it like a maniac. I have a huge crush on Peeta and can't wait for the movie. Don't tell Dan.

  3. How did you think she became less of a badass in the last book? I mean, she did a lot of moping around District 13, but I think anyone who had gone through the kind of trauma Katniss did would do the same. She survived not one, but two, Hunger Games, the second of which she never thought would ever happen. Not to mention she's dealing with some survivor's guilt and some intense feelings regarding Peeta. Plus, in my opinion, she totally redeems herself in the end by taking out the District 13 commander. I think it's also important to note, although Katniss has been forced to make A LOT of adult decisions, she is in fact just a teenager. Thoughts?

  4. I'm with you, G. Katniss is living in a world of crazy and gets a million points for not going crazy herself. I think I found Katniss to be so compelling because while she obviously cared about these two boys, she was so independent. I kind of hoped throughout the trilogy that she wouldn't pick either Peeta or Gale (although I am totally team Gale!) and would instead find some cool new, college educated man to court her when she became old enough. Instead, at the end of Mockingjay, she is just like "oh well, I never see Gale any more... shoot...guess I will just take my shell of my former self and marry Peeta who is all bananas now." I know I am being critical, but I just wanted her life to be a little less depressing at the end of the book.

  5. I hope I'm not to late to the party on this! I agree about the 3rd book being kind of a let down. I too was hoping for more of a Gilmore Girls ending. Fuck all ya'll I'm getting on a bus and leaving behind everyone instead of choosing anyone. It just felt like she got lazy towards the end of writing the 3rd book and was like aaaand gale went away and katniss and peeta lived happily ever after. What a disservice to Gale even though I wanted her to not end up with him. The fact that she was only a teenager is what made me the most surprised that she stuck with Peeta and started a family. If I made it through all of that I'd go backpacking in Europe for a while, maybe go to a Sandals resort...

  6. I think you ladies need a book club....STAT.