the hunger game book review

the hunger game book review

The Impact of “The Hunger Games” Book

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1. Introduction

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins is a piece of literature that would be branded as timeless. Released in 2008 and followed by 2 sequels known as Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the impact of this series, at the time surrounded by the hype of the movie adaptations and even now is immeasurable. Given that the books were written in the last decade, one may not be able to properly judge its cultural relevance. This series is extremely noted for its dark and grim portrayal of a dystopian future where a totalitarian nation known as Panem forces its citizens to participate in an event where 24 contestants fight to the death in a televised event. This nation is ruled by a group of elites that control the central city and surround themselves with excessive wealth while other citizens are left wallowing in poverty. Upon setting a precedent, it is evident that Panem is reflective of modern day society in a few occurrences.

2. Plot Summary

Reflecting upon this, The Hunger Games is an odd novel to discuss in terms of plot. The actual events that take place in the story are very simple, and could likely be summed up in a couple of pages. However, Suzanne Collins writes with such forceful prose and such a clear narrative style that one is propelled through the story with incredible momentum, desiring to know what happens next and hardly ever feeling the urge to stop. This forceful narrative drive is one of the book’s strongest features. It is nearly impossible to put down, and while it may not challenge the reader in terms of complex plot development, it is a model of storytelling at its best.

The Hunger Games takes place in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic version of North America. The country consists of a wealthy capitol city, located in the Rocky Mountains, and twelve (originally thirteen) poorer districts ruled by the capitol. Seventy-four years before the beginning of the book, the districts rebelled against the Capitol. The Capitol won the war, and as a reminder to the districts that they are completely at the Capitol’s mercy, every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are selected from each district to fight to the death in a televised arena, called the Hunger Games. The games are a fight to the death, with the victor being the last tribute still alive. At the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, Primrose Everdeen, a twelve-year-old girl, gets selected as the female tribute from District Twelve. Her older sister, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take her place. Katniss and the male tribute, Peeta Mellark, are taken to the Capitol, and then to the arena, where the games begin.

3. Themes Explored

Guideline 3: The main problem is that these days in real-world western society, The Hunger Games is occurring in slow motion. The titular battle-to-the-death functions as a frightful metaphor for conferment of the privileges of adulthood—gambling for the sorts of choices that will shape one’s future, without having the experience to make weighted decisions or full appreciation of the consequences. The participants in the games are not merely seeking fame or glory; such things are only tools through which they hope to win immunity from a lifetime of oppression. This is also the wish of the districts left unspoken in the selection of their own tributes.

Guideline 2: Every citizen in Panem is required by law to watch the Games. Katniss recognizes the insidious way in which the Capitol uses the appetites of the viewers to distract them from the real horror of the games and to dull their reactions to the violence and the injustice perpetrated by the government. During the interview in which he parades the District 12 tributes, Peeta reveals that he has long been in love with Katniss. This is a successful tactic on his part, but it generates an adverse reaction for Katniss, who does not wish to involve her private life in a public spectacle for the entertainment of others.

Guideline 1: There is little doubt that the main theme of The Hunger Games is. At its heart, the trilogy is a parable for the way in which modern consumer culture deadens (pun intended) the minds of young people and kills (ditto) their spirits. In the story, the Capitol selects one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death in The Hunger Games, a televised event in which the participants are pitted against one another in a gladiatorial arena.

4. Critical Reception

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games has received much criticism for its “horrific” level of violence and gore. It was given a rating of twelve and up, which offended many people considering the book’s brutal content and dark, depressing storyline. The book’s voice has also been a complaint. Katniss is considered impulsive, says the wrong things at the wrong time, and spends most of the books feeling sorry for herself. An example of this is in the second book, Catching Fire, where she is so filled with self-pity about her rough past and the loss of her father that she falls into a state of paralysis. This makes her an unreliable narrator. Also, according to Robin of the AudioBookaneers, the use of first person gives little perspective to those not Katniss. This being said, it is also meant to provide a sort of connection between the character and the reader, making the reader feel as they know her and understand her feelings. One of the strongest points of criticism is that The Hunger Games is a “gladiator story” influenced by Roman and Greek culture, such as the name “Gladii” given to the GC’s weapon of choice and the Roman strategy of “bread and circuses”. Honestly, with the way that “Panem” and its districts are depicted, this is hard to argue against. Stephanie K. of Word Moths has stated that she was unable to read the books because of the child-killing theme. Kelly Polark states that The Hunger Games will appeal to those who like adventure and action, but that the storyline is predictable and will bother thoughtful readers. Kelly is inclined to think that The Hunger Games’ popularity is due to the increasing immorality of youth. Erin Lewang probably said it best by stating that despite her reservations about the books, she was “biologically incapable of not reading them”. Mixed emotions coming from The Hunger Games’ criticism obviously reflect the different views of the books, primarily of its storyline and message. All criticism, however, adds to the success of the series. Everything said and debated reflects how the book made people think. And when people have to think about a book on a deeper level than just its surface story, it forces the creation of multiple perspectives and a lasting memory. This can be seen in the many reader reviews of The Hunger Games. Everything in the books, from its devious stratagem to the bonds of friendship and love, and even betrayal, has made readers feel so much dismay and eagerness toward what would happen next, that it has them talking to themselves about what this book has made them feel. If a book has people questioning themselves, it has accomplished something.

5. Conclusion

The Hunger Games is a book that leaves the reader pondering many things. One of the greatest things the reader is left contemplating is our own world’s society. The book is a giant metaphor for a high school. The Capitol is the preps, town kids are District 1 and 2, so on and so forth down the line until you get to the very poor kids. Those are the kids considered so low on the social spectrum that nobody in the upper classes even acknowledges them. In high school this is exactly what we see today, just go to any town in America. The popular preppy kids are exactly like those who live in the Capitol. They have all the newest and best stuff, as well as access to things that others do not. This is evident in the very first chapter of the book as Effie Trinket is drawing names for the Reaping; a process that is likened to drawing straws and the odds are in the favors of those who have more money and can buy enough to keep their family members safe. Step down just one rung on the social ladder and you have the town kids, who are exactly like District 1 and 2. They might not have all the same things as the preppy kids, but they certainly have it better than the average kid. Continue down the line and the similarities are astounding. This is also why many people like The Hunger Games series, it rings loudly and clearly the message that our own society is much like the one described in the book, and that in itself is a scary thought.

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