Thursday, 31 May 2012

Book 37 of 2012: The Hunger Games

I've heard a lot about Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, all very good, but I have a tendency to avoid really popular books until some of the interest has died down. This often backfires on me (see Harry Potter which I didn't read until long after the first book had come out) so as a result of previous experience, and because I saw the books in The Book People catalogue for £4.99, I decided to give it a shot.

The Hunger Games is set in the future, in what we know now as America, where there are many Districts who each year must send 'Tributes' to a fight to the death. The survivors win status and prizes for their Districts, the losers are killed by the other teenagers. It's brutal and violent and designed to help to keep the Districts from rising up and attempting a revolution (which had happened in the past, leading to the destruction of one of the Districts).

If you're unlike me, you probably already know a fair bit about this story. Katniss's younger sister, Prim, is chosen as a Tribute but Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and Peeta Mellark are given celebrity status before being thrown into the arena where they are expected to fight for their lives alongside, and against, other teenagers.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this. Friends with similar tastes in books to me have raved about it, or at least mentioned how quickly they got through it because they didn't want to put it down. I was fairly certain that I would enjoy it but I wasn't entirely sure what it would be about, aside from the things I'd heard about it with the film coming out. As I started reading it I remember thinking 'I'm not sure if this is going to be my sort of thing' and then very quickly finding myself on page 60.

I was slightly disappointed to have heard some things both about the film and also from bloggers who were big fans of the books, which meant that I was expecting certain things to happen. I imagine if I was reading it without the knowledge of the spoilers then they would have come as a huge shock. Since then I've tried to avoid reading about the next two books (or anything to do with the films) in preparation for actually reading them myself. I suspect that I've been spoiled for a couple of things but hopefully there will be more surprises than when I was reading The Hunger Games.

I did find it a very quick read. I started it on the day before my birthday, in the morning before work and by the time I left the house I was up to page 60. I finished it on my birthday. There was a fair amount of picking up and putting down because of work, being out of the house for my birthday picnic and the like. I imagine if I'd had a toally free day, like a Saturday, I could have read it all in one sitting.

It was very brutal, lots of violence, blood and gore, it was shocking, but that was the whole point. I can see how it would appeal to teenagers with the romance aspect but it's written well enough to appeal to adults as well. It's clear that Collins has put a lot of thought into the world that she has created. Whenever I found myself thinking but why? it would be explained in one way or another. And it makes sense too, to a point. I mean, the idea of the Games is totally pointless, but it still makes sense, kinda. In a way it made me think of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, definitely one I'm thinking of revisiting after I've finished this series.

I'm very much looking forward to reading the next books, though I did have my doubts while I was reading The Hunger Games because I really couldn't think what would happen after the Games finished. Clearly I needn't have worried, they've obviously proved popular so I'm curious to see what's coming next. I'd also really like to see the films, though I'm happy to wait until they're out on DVD. I'm curious to see whether it's the way I've imagined it, as well as how they work out certain bits of the book.

So this is definitely one bandwagon that I've decided to jump onboard.
"Something catches my eye. There, resting on a mound of blanket rolls, is a silver sheath of arrows and a bow, already strung, just waiting to be engaged. That's mine, I think. It's meant for me."
Page 180

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