Today, I thought I’d review a book I’ve become completely OBSESSED with. And when I say “obsessed” I mean obsessed! I literally EAT, SLEEP, DREAM this book. And to make matters better worse, the author does everything humanly possible to make sure I keep during that DAMN page!

Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is the first book of three: Catching Fire, and Mockingjay follow. I first heard about Hunger Games maybe a month ago. I heard they were making Suzanne Collin’s book into a movie, but I knew nothing about it. My friend simply described it as about a book where teenagers are chosen to be on a reality show and kill each other off.

One of my favorite short story growing up, is The Lottery. It’s a short story I read in college, by Shirley Jackson. It’s about a small harvest town that holds annual “lotteries” in order to insure good harvests. At first we’re not sure what’s happening. The town is set up for a party, but no one really seems in a party mood, in fact they seem nervous. Each family picks a piece of paper from a box. Whoever has the black dot is the “winner” then in that family they pick again. And again, whoever has the black dot is the victor. Only there is no prize, and what proceeds is a stoning. But the real shocker is when her little son picks up a stone to throw himself…

That short story bears striking similarities to the first book of Hunger Games. The story takes places in a time where North America no longer exits, but has been replaced by a wealthy Capitol surrounded by 12 Districts (there used to be more but they were destroyed when the citizens tried to rebel.) In order to keep the District’s citizens from rebelling against Capitol, as well as keep population under control, and the wealthy people wealthy, Capitol holds the Hunger Games every year.

In the Hunger Games two teens (ranging from age 12-18) from each district are chosen, and all of the kids are thrown into an arena to fight to the death on live TV. Katniss Everdeen, our heroine, is forced into the games where her little sister draws the “short straw” and Katniss volunteers to take her place. One thing Katniss has always been is a survivor, hunting food, hiding from Capitol, bending the rules. Maybe she could survive this, even if District 12 hasn’t had a winner in over 30 years.

There are two things, I really love about this book, besides the obvious plot: Suzanne Collins has a wonderful way of developing her characters not only with her use of words to describe them, but also in their actions and the way they speak. You find yourself really caring about these characters and wanting to protect them. I LOVE that this book is in first person. We’re inside Katniss’ head. We see and feel her. We understand her decisions even if they are at times cold, or brutal. We feel what she feels. This is good, because on the outside she seems strong, sturdy, smart, but also surly and unpredictable. But on the inside, through first person, we realize Katniss is just a scared 16 year old who spent her entire life trying to run from her feelings. She’s a survivor and knows that she must win the game at all costs, to get back to her family and keep them safe.

The second thing I love about this book is Collins’ ability to keep you “on the hook” so to speak. I first started reading this book late at night. I’d read just an hour or so before bed, I’d tell myself. However, the way Collins’ ends the chapters, sets up for the next one, has the way of forcing you to turn the page. I’d constantly tell myself just one more chapter, but there would always be something at the end of the chapter that left me wanting more. It was ADDICTING. And when I finally could put the book down, I found myself always thinking about it.

And the second book, Catching Fire, did not suffer from the sophomore slump. It was just as engaging, if not more so in some parts because we already know these main characters well enough. As each chapter progressed, I couldn’t help thinking, this poor girl! Everything she goes through, President Snow is truly, truly evil. But I guess that’s the point.

I won’t ruin the book with any spoilers, but I think I read this book in 6 hours. I didn’t even both stopping. It had me at hello.

The third book, Mockingjay took a bit to get going, but once it did, it was riveting. There’s one HUGE twist in the book that I absolutely loved. It wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops.

As the book was coming to the close you get a sense that all points are converging to one ending. I read this book late at night and literally, at 2AM in the morning had to put the book DOWN because it was getting so scary. I was forced to turn on the TV for a bit so I wouldn’t have any nightmares.

By the books end, I was completely exhausted. **SPOILER ALERT** There was a huge death at the end of the book that I couldn’t even mourn because I was so NUMB. And when it was all over, and I couldn’t help but come away from the book, tired, empty, and even a little depressed. Probably because I cried that last 1/4th of the third book. This book haunted me and at first, I thought, why did it end this way? Why did it HAVE to end this way? Why couldn’t it have ended this other way? What was Suzanne Collins’ thinking? We spent so much time on these characters, only for it to end like that. But like the finale of LOST, I just needed time to marinate on it. I needed time to let it sink in. I, like Katniss, was left traumatized.

A for a book to make me feel like that, you know it’s a great one. A lot of people feel cheated about the books ending. But I don’t. I don’t LOVE it, but I get it. And that’s truly how life is.

The Movie


I hope, hope to God, Hollywood and Gary Ross does this book right. I want this movie as gritty as it reads. Not like the mess they made of I Am Number Four. The movie did not do the book justice. I hope I can’t say the same thing about Hunger Games.

The book is gory, and raw, and real, and sometimes Hollywood has the tendancy to lessen these things in order to make it more appealing to the masses. But I want to be traumatized by this movie, in a good way. You hear me Gary Ross?!

As for casting, I feel like they should be new faces, or at least faces that aren’t highly recognizable (i/e: no one from Twilight, or Disney, or Nickelodeon.)

For Katniss: Some websites out there are suggesting Lyndsy Fonesca (Nikitia) who despite the unfortunate first name spelling COULD be a good choice. I know that Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, and Jennifer Lawrence are also in the running. I agree that it would be gross to cast a 14 year old to play Katniss, then a 25 year old to play Peeta. I don’t mind if Katniss doesn’t look 16, as long as she’s a bad-ass and more importantly a GOOD ACTRESS!

For Peeta: Websides have suggest Alex Pettyfer is in the running for Peeta but after his performance in I Am Number Four, I don’t think this is a wise choice. In fact, after all the drama out there surrounding him, I don’t think this is a wise choice. Besides, even if he is young, he does not look 16. Peeta needs to be played by someone who can show more range and more vulnerability. I can’t think of a young actor out there like that who could really play the part.

Though casting unknowns is dangerous, I think this would be the best route for both these characters.

 

Anyway, I guess it will be a few more weeks before we find anything about casting. I just hope this movie is done right.

What do you think? Did you love the books? Did you hate the books? Have you read the books? And if not, why not? What do you think about casting choices? Who should play Katniss and Peeta? What do you think of my choice of Danielle Panabaker as Fox Face? Do you agree that this movie should be GRITTY (like Children of Men, Saving Private Ryan, 300, Lord of the Rings violent), or am I just a violent person?

 

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