Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hunger Games: Yes, It Was A Book First!

After reading Mr.D's riveting film review on this, I felt compelled and inspired to write a book review on this. That's right folks, it was a book first!

Whilst the film is indeed fantastic and most definitely worth seeing in the cinema, I would strongly recommend that you read it as well; read it before or after watching the film, it won't matter - I can guarantee the book will be better.

The book captures the true struggles that the Districts face with having to sacrifice two children annually as punishment for a rebellion long ago; the poverty they face with such oppression and barbarism watching them be killed by other children live on television. Katniss Everdeen (the heroine of the story) pays the ultimate price for saving her sisters life from being a tribute; by volunteering to be a tribute herself. Her and another, Peeta Meelark, have moments of friendship through out the training for the Games, only to have to remind themselves  that they could potentially have to murder the other for survival. The two make an impressive entrance to the Hunger Games, with Peeta actually declaring his love for Katniss; a ploy she believes to win him extra sponsers for food and medicine come the time of the Games. 

Before you know it, they are thrust into the arena and the descriptive narration of these scenes even made my hair stand on end when I remembered these characters were children; nether the less Katniss manages to escape all this by relying on her well-practiced hunting and outdoor skills to survive. As the games continue, the tribute death toll increases. A few days later, Katniss develops an alliance with Rue, a 12-year-old girl from the agricultural District 11 who reminds Katniss of her sister, Primrose. Although the alliance is short-lived as Rue is killed by another tribute, the build up of Rue and Katniss's alliance is truly heartwarming, making the death of Rue that more saddening (something I feel the film didn't quite grasp). At Rue's request, Katniss sings to her, then spreads flowers over her body as a sign of respect—and of disgust towards the Capitol.

With Peeta's declaration of love to Katniss still in the minds of the audience as "star crossed lovers", a rule change is announced midway through the Games, stating that if two tributes from the same district are both alive they can win the Hunger Games as a pair. Upon hearing this, Katniss searches for Peeta and eventually finds him wounded. As she nurses him back to health, she acts the part of a young girl falling in love to gain more favor with the audience and, consequently, gifts from her sponsors. After much struggles and battling other tributes,  the couple are finally the last two tributes; however the Gamemakers quickly reverse the rule in an attempt to force them into a dramatic finale, where one must kill the other to win. Katniss, knowing that the Gamemakers would rather have two victors than none, retrieves highly poisonous berries known as "nightlock" from her pouch and offers some to Peeta. Upon realizing that Katniss and Peeta intend to commit suicide, the Gamemakers announce that both will be the victors of the 74th Hunger Games.
Although she survives the ordeal in the arena and is treated to a hero's welcome in the Capitol, Katniss is warned she is now a political target after defying her society's authoritarian leaders so publicly. Afterwards, Peeta is heartbroken when he learns that Katniss's actions in the arena were part of a calculated ploy to earn sympathy from the audience. As they make preparations to go home to start the celebratory parades through the Districts however, she finds herself confused about her true feelings for Peeta. But will she even be alive to act on these thoughts; not if the Capitol's leaders have anything to do with it....

Read 'Catching Fire' to find out....

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