Posts tagged ‘hunger games’

January 31, 2012

Hunger Games Trilogy

Yeah, I finally finished the Hunger Games trilogy. The first book I zipped through, complete page-turner. With the second book, there were sections I had moments of zippiness. The third book, well lets just say there were so many twists and turns that it was hard to keep the momentum.

I think the reason why I like the first book “Hunger Games” the best is that there was a clear plot line. Yes I knew Katniss would survive, since there were two more books, but it didn’t matter. I was interested in the journey she was embarking upon. I felt the author delivered on that promise. She delivered a riveting story about a dismal world but with a ray of hope that Katniss and Peeta would make a difference in the world. To read more about my thoughts on the first book, see my earlier post.

The second book “Catching Fire“, I felt was like two stories clobbered together. In the first half of the book you learn more about the other Districts and the Capitol. You learn more about Panem as a whole, and the rebellious stirrings. This was intriguing and I was just zipping through it. Then half-way through the book changes focus onto the Quarter Quell Games, with Katniss and Peeta back in the arena again. I found this annoying, afterall I already know they are survivors of the game why do I need to see it again. I was like why are you delaying what I know will come later which is more stuff on the rebellion. This is what I want to know about. I think being a writer is starting to become an occupational hazard. When Plutarch showed Katniss his mockingjay pocketwatch at the Capitol party, I knew that was foreshadowing of something and that Plutarch was something more that what he appeared to be. I am glad my hunch was correct but it was only on the final few pages that I got confirmation. In the second book the love triangle is well in play, and certainly makes Katniss a less likable character for it. I do like Gale but can’t she see that Peeta is able to rise above it all and see things for what they really are. I didn’t really enjoy the way Haymitch and the others kept Peeta and Katniss in the dark about the bigger plans going on.

The third book “Mockingjay” is really about the war. I was so looking forward to learning about District 13. Some of it surprised me, but I will accept the author’s vision of it, like the overly strict rules. What I didn’t like was the manipulation of Katniss, and that President Coin didn’t seem much better than President Snow. I guess that was the point of the story. I was just hoping for something a bit more hopeful and less realistic then. I hated the idea of using “promos” as the method to fuel the rebel cause. Though it did provide us with some more insight into the characters. Prior to the end of book 2, I had just assumed the Capitol folks were just misguided and clueless, and I wanted the rebellion to be inspired from people within. In book three we find out that yes people from within the Capitol are rebelling but not because they figured it out for themselves but because they have connections to District 13. Okay fine I will accept that. But then later Finnick’s revelation about President Snow really annoyed me. All of sudden it made it seem as if the Capitol people were okay and the problem was just the bad dictator. As for the love triangle I am happy that Katniss realized what matters. As for Gale leaving without a word, I thought that was wrong and a bit out of character. Gale is not a coward and should have had one last conversation with Katniss for closure. As for Katniss’s mom, her character appeared to be growing through the story; I was disappointed by her final actions of not sticking by Katniss.

Despite my complaints about books two and three, it was an interesting trilogy. One I would still recommend to people. Looking back on my thoughts I think some are related to the author’s plot lines and the way the story was constructed; however the other half is probably related to characteristics she has given the people and the decisions they make. This latter part is probably more reflective of the way things do happen in our world today, maybe that is why I don’t like it. I want something better for our world. See my post “Reflections on Panem“, where I give my thoughts on the Capitol way of life.

To see an in-depth analysis regarding Katniss’s character read Tahlia’s post on the trilogy.

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January 25, 2012

Reflections on Panem

The Arts is about taking in experiences, places, sights, smells, ideas, and words from the world around, mixing it all up in your psyche, and then regurgitating it out in some art form. In this case writing. I once read a quote in a children’s book that I love.

by Trudi Trueit in Scab for Treasurer? (Secrets of a Lab Rat)

“… if you long to understand the world, read a book. If you long to understand yourself, then write one. “

So with this quote in mind, I write this post where I reflect on the world of Panem from the Hunger Games trilogy. (this is a spoiler post)

As I was reading the books, I kept playing connect the dots. Connecting something from Panem to our world. Here are some of the connections I made.

Capitol & the Districts
The districts each provide various resources or good for consumption to the Capitol. However the districts cannot use the goods directly themselves. District 11 was agriculture. Most of the stuff they produced went to the Capitol; the quality/variety of the food they ate was no better than District 12. The people in the districts had a low quality of living with few rights.

Seemed a lot like a history lesson on colonialism to me.

People in the Capitol
The citizens of the Capitol are depicted as being out of touch with reality. The districts exist to provide any needs or desires for the Capitol from food to electronic gadgets. The Capitol citizens are focused on appearances, what to wear, how to look, what to serve at a party. Little or no value for one’s natural bodies. A society where wrinkles cannot exist, people are artificially enhanced to be more alluring. Where little pills exist so you can throw up at parties, just for the sake of being able to eat more food.

The point about not knowing where your food comes from rings true for most of us who don’t work in agriculture. A year ago I watched the documentary Food Inc., which discusses the industrial style production of meat and poultry and its impact of on the environment. An eye-opening movie, one that I recommend watching.

The point about not knowing where your electronic good are made reminded me of the news articles regarding “sweatshop” conditions at electronic manufacturing companies in China. These are the places that build our smart-phones, MP3s, camera, etc. We all want lower cost electronics, but at what cost to the human condition.

As for the color of hair and tattoos. Ironically, I was at the salon having my hair highlighted while reading the book. I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little superficial, after all who wants to be like the Capitol citizens. I did get a chuckle when I realized the other stylists at the salon had pink and green hair and tattoos.

The no wrinkles and artificial enhancements are clear references to the botox and plastic surgery trends.

Lastly, being able to vomit on a whim. Bulimia.

Putting on a Show
The Hunger Games as well as Mockingjay’s role in the rebellion, was produced like scenes for a show. The purpose for Unit 451 at the Capitol wasn’t to go kick some butt, but to shoot promos to air.

This reminded me off a movie, Wag the Dog, where Hollywood fabricated a war to subvert attention from a presidential scandal. On a more serious note, when we see movies/tv coverage about conflicts in the Middle East or Asia or anywhere, how much do we really get to see and who decides. Now with the Internet it is much easier to get different perspectives on a conflict.

So what does all this mean? Is Panem an extreme version of our world hundreds of years from now. I certainly hope not. Instead, I see it as a mirror by which we can reflect on who we are, and maybe make some changes for the better along the way.

What do you think?

See my earlier post for my review of Hunger Games. Click here for my review of Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

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December 28, 2011

Hunger Games

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. I normally do not review YA Fiction, but I just finished this book and had to write about it and the upcoming theatrical release. I am sure many of you have heard of this engaging and thrilling story and a good number of you have probably already read the trilogy. Here is the official blurb:

“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.”

I actually heard about the book two years ago. However at the time, I had just finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy and was in no mood for another messed up world, with gruesome scenes, and very little hope. Well I was wrong on 2 of 3 accounts. Yes, Panem is definitely screwed up. But, the scenes weren’t as gruesome (no cannibalism thank god) and most importantly Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Melark the tributes from District 12 give you HOPE. They give you hope that even in a messed up world like Panem with its sadistic Hunger Games, it is possible to still stay true to yourself. Katniss and Peeta play the game but they do not lose their compassion or humanity in the face of life or death.

The setting and concept are powerful, its like Lord of the Flies meets Gladiator in a Survivor style setting. Equally strong is Suzanne Collins writing. I fell in love with Katniss’s character and the story of Panem from the very first chapter. I found myself re-reading sentences just to figure out Collins’s writing style. Rarely do I get hooked into a story from the first chapter, but there was no turning back in this case. This book will appeal to boys and girls. Even though the protagonist is female the book is very much an action book and a story about survival.

For those of you that have read the book, I do have some questions for you below. But first here is a link to the Hunger Games movie trailer. It was seeing this trailer that lit a fire under me to read the book.

SPOILER ALERT

So here are some of the questions I have.

1) Is the arena out in the real wilderness or is it in some man-made bubble like in the Truman show? Originally I though it was out in the real-world with fencing, but as the Hunger Games continued I got the sense it was more of a bubble of some sort. How else could the Gamemakers control the temperature, weather, and water supply.

2) What was your opinion of the wolf-like mutts at the end? This was a bit much for me. I accepted the various silver parachutes in the game and the fires, droughts to move the story along, but the wolf-like mutts creeped me out a bit. I didn’t think the author prepared the reader enough for this. Yes the Capitol does like to “mutate/enhance” animals such as the mocking-jays and tracker-jackers. I just wasn’t prepared to see animals that were based off of the dead tributes.

3) What did you make of Peeta’s reaction at the end about Katniss’s affections towards the end of the game? This is the scene where they are walking along the train tracks in Chapter 27. Peeta seems hurt that Katniss may have just been “playing along”. However, wasn’t it Peeta who came up with romance ruse in the first place to garner sponsors.

I very much liked this book since it was a story about survival while still staying true to yourself. I am hooked enough to read the second book, Catching Fire, but am a little skeptical mainly because I get the sense it might have a love triangle. I must admit I have absolutely no idea what the next two books are about, but I look forward to it.

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