The Hunger Games Wrap-Up

To be completely honest I totally forgot I was all set up for this. I found out about it in January. Checked the book out of the library in February. Read it in bits and snatches throughout the move, the book seemed to be set up for it.

Each chapter was a short but engaging and vivid bite and it always ended on a cliff hanger, forcing me to work double fast to get back to it during the next meal time break.

I finished reading the book. Then, in the flurry of moving, I totally forgot about it. I remembered the book discussion (the whole reason I picked it up in the first place) the day after it was over. So, I’m posting my answers here!

What follows is my answers to a series of discussion questions on The Hunger Games posted over at Barney’s Book Blog. This discussion will contain spoilers.

1. What are you overall impressions of Katniss? How does she grow and change as the novel progresses?

Katniss is, to put it quite simply, a survivor. I think she kind of shut down after her Dad died, then she ended up supporting her family, catatonic mother and much younger sister, and went into a sort of survivor mode. She did what needed to be done and made the sacrifices that had to be made for the sake of her family. When Gale mentions settling down she reels at the thought. She is just concentrating on surviving.

When she signed up for the Hunger Games in place of her sister I think her survivor mode went into over drive. She was super paranoid (who wouldn’t be?), thinking way ahead of the game and just basically became very focused on the task at hand. She also had to shut down in some ways, though. For example, there were fleeting moments where she thought about Peeta and their relationship when he was first chosen, but then shut that part of her down as much as she could, until the moment when the rule change was announced. Even then she was still ready to switch gears at a moments notice, and still had that guard up, still paranoid. Good thing, too, or else she would have had no chance of surviving the games.

2. What are your thoughts on the Hunger Games? Do you think that the author uses the games to make the reader think of the reality competitions that are prevalent on television today? If so, what message do you think she is trying to convey?

Ironically the first thing I thought of when I read the premise of the Hunger Games was the story of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth, and then I thought of the Roman Colosseums and only after connecting those dots did I turn to the concept of reality TV. I had heard before that it seemed like we were going more and more towards the Colosseums of old as far as reality violence on TV. And here is where I admit an embarrassing fact.

I don’t watch TV, as in tune in randomly and plop down and watch, pretty much at all. I do watch a few shows if they are available online later, like House or Legend of the Seeker or Merlin, but that’s just about it. Books are my preferred entertainment of choice. That and for the longest time my husband had such a funky wiring set up to the TV that I honestly didn’t know HOW to turn on the TV even if I did want to. A family gathering later revealed that I was not alone, NONE of the wives in the family knew how to turn on their own TVs because of the various convoluted setups and three or more remotes required to do so. When I complained about that it was to find out that he didn’t even have the antenna for the TV hooked up at all and hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about it for two months because I never asked after it. So, it’s not some moral or superiority thing, it’s because my husband needlessly complicates things when he DIYs. Don’t tell him I said so though.

So any street cred I might have had saying that the message being conveyed needs to be said or should be said is now lost. I do think that is what she is getting at though!

3. How did you feel about the romantic relationship between Katniss and Peeta? Was it a strategic move or do you feel that Peeta truly loves Katniss?

I think Peeta truly does love Katniss. I’m not sure about Katniss though. I think that after the Games once she started heading home she was slowly coming down from survival mode and her first thoughts were not of Peeta but of Gale. She is back to thinking about what he said at the beginning of the novel and I think she is starting to realize that she needs to live life while she has it.

If the Hunger Games hadn’t happened would she have had a chance with Peeta? Perhaps. I think she needs to not worry about either of the boys in her life right now though. She was already showing some serious signs of PTSD and she needs to have a chance to calm down with family and try and heal after the traumatic events of the Games. Do I think she will get a chance to do so in Catching Fire? No.

4. Discuss the supporting characters such as Cinna and Haymitch. What does each one bring to their friendship to Katniss? Do you feel that each character has an alternative motive for the relationship that they forge with others?

Everyone had more than one reason for their relationship with each other once they reach the capital. This is a game of survival but also a game that generates a lot of fame. I think that Cinna wants Katniss and Peeta to survive, but also that he is at the same time using them as an in to a more glamorous and well paying position. Cinna and his team still have a vested interest because without their help no sponsers and without sponsers no chance of winning. I also think Cinna, as a new artist, hasn’t yet learned how to distance himself from the people he is working on. He is going to have to if he stays working there for long. He lucked out this time, he probably won’t next.

As for Haymitch I think he was tired of seeing kids die under his watch. The drinking he does I think is part ploy to have people drop their guards (he won the games on brains not brawn) and part true dependence and desperation as a way to deal with the horrors of his job. Once you get called to the Games, winner or loser, you are chained to them for life. I think he sees some of himself in Katniss and that he also recognizes her shut down into survival mode and so works around that just as deftly. I also think his “hating” Katniss and Peeta is really just him trying to put some healthy distance between himself and two young people who he most likely will watch die a horribly painful death on live TV.

5. Tell us your overall impressions of the book. Would you recommend it to teens? Why or why not? Will / have you read the sequel, Catching Fire?

Overall impressions are: Can. Not. Stop. Turning. Pages. Seriously. I have not read a book that took away my ability to patiently wait for the next time I can pick it up in a long, long time.

And, would I recommend it to teens? Hello! I’ve been recommending it to everybody. The powerful messages about life, death and entertainment are just very gripping. It seems wrong to say that reading about death was wonderful, but I will say this: the deaths – all of them, even the enemies – were painted in a very sympathetic and touching way. In the end you could see that it was wrong that any of these people died. Now if they will get that right in the movie I don’t know. But, every death was a tragedy and you very much got the vibe of the evil power consolidated in the Capital as far as who was really at fault.

I’m planning on reading Catching Fire as soon as I get caught up on my reviews. Hopefully, soon! I can’t wait!

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