oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
[personal profile] oyceter
And once again, I pick up a book that is the first of a trilogy, although it is never mentioned on the cover. Argh!

The really sad thing is that I am fairly certain people online made note of this, so I made note of it in my head, but it took so long for me to get my hands on the book that I forgot. My memory = sieve.

It's sometime in the future, and the United States (the book says North America, but there is no mention of Canada and Mexico, boo) has torn itself apart and reformed itself as Panem. There's the Capitol and twelve Districts, and when the then thirteen Districts once rebelled, the Capitol put them down, eradicted District Thirteen, and instituted the Hunger Games. Each District must send 2 teenagers, one boy and one girl, to the Games, in which they battle each other to death in several weeks, all televised. Katniss Everdeen is from District Twelve, the poorest District located in what once was Appalachia. When her twelve-year-old sister is picked, Katniss volunteers in her place.

I haven't read other books in the genre of teenagers-battle-to-death-while-televised, especially Battle Royale, so I can't compare this to any of them. That said, I'm not wowed by the social critique of dictatorship or conquering people via media, but that is because I have seen enough of the use of TV in dictators' hands. Still, I very much like the portrayal of political oppression in the book, particularly how Katniss and her friend Gale as so much more aware of some forms of oppression than her slightly-better-off teammate Peeta from District 12, simply because Peeta is the son of a baker and has a few more resources to draw on. My favorite thing about the book is Katniss, who is strong and brave and cunning and the exact opposite of spunky. I love that she will do nearly anything to survive, that she coldly calculates how to manipulate the viewers' emotions, and I very much like how the love story in the book ended up going.

The weaknesses of the book lie largely in the plot or how characters must act because of the plot. The other contestants in the Games are not fleshed out very well, and I was particularly bored by the final battle. I thought Collins was going to go a different route, but she settled on a more familiar and standard resolution instead. That said, the unresolved bits of story make me really anticipate the next two books.

Spoilers

Basically, I was sure that Rue was going to be the last one standing, simply because she was the only one Katniss trusted. Having Cato be the final villain was rather boring and predictable, and I felt it cheated by letting Katniss and Peeta kill him without us feeling bad about it. The rest of Katniss and Peeta's kills felt like that as well, which seemed a little unbelievable given how the Games work.

I love love love the thing with Peeta and how Collins doesn't do the "he likes her and therefore he deserves to be liked back" thing. She is very good at showing that Peeta's emotions are genuine, but that Peeta and Katniss come from very different worlds, and I love that Katniss suspects Peeta the entire way through and doesn't care at all about using it to get out alive.

Still, I was glad to find out that the book was the first of a trilogy, because whenever Katniss railed about the system, I wanted her to not just win the Games, but to get out of them and ferment revolution and overthrow the Capitol! Hopefully we will get to see more of that.

This can be read without having the next books in hand; a few things are left hanging, but the book comes to a very satisfactory conclusion by itself.

Definitely recommended. How is Battle Royale, especially in terms of heroines? I may look it up once my nerves recover from this book. (I spent the day I was reading it convinced I was living in a media dystopia where everyone was going to kill me. Not particularly comfortable, but it says something about the power of the book!)

Links:
- [livejournal.com profile] buymeaclue's review

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] rilina.livejournal.com
I read it and appear not to have blogged about it. I thought it was a big crowd-pleaser (crowd including me!) though, as you say, not the most profound story EVAR. And I am glad the sequel will have to deal with what happens after.

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 06:26 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] thistleingrey.livejournal.com
One of the few things that helped me through the last third was the awareness that Collins would have to deal with what happens after... although I fear that Katniss will do the next batch of things in a ± predictable fashion, too. I'm sort of next to that crowd rather than in it (http://reqfd.net/stack/2009/01/30/your-economic-theory/). Still, I look forward to reading #2.

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] londonkds.livejournal.com
Battle Royale: don't know about other versions of the story, but the live-action film has some pretty bad things in it wrt gender.

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magicnoire.livejournal.com
I agree with the above comment about the Battle Royale movie and I doubly say that about the Battle Royale manga, which can be incredibly sketchy at times. The story almost does something interesting with Mitsuko Souma's character but then I balance it out with the femme fatale/whore/crazy murderess aspects of her character and cringe.

Anyway, I loved Hunger Games. After I got my BFFs to read it, we started coming up with all these theories about what would happen in the next book and then we started having fights about how Katniss should end up with Gale, not Peeta. (LOL)

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
I agree with the above comments. I actually love the movie (I do not love the manga at all, and think the book is just okay) but though it has some interesting female characters, some of whom are bad-ass and some of whom aren't, there's also a fair amount of gender stereotyping.

The biggest difference between Hunger Games and Battle Royale is that in the latter, the game hasn't been as socially codified, and most of the kids initially refuse to take part, and so there's a much larger range of what actually happens: some kids do plunge in, but others rebel pacifistically, others rebel violently, some try to escape, some go into total denial, etc. It's also much more of an ensemble story, though it too has a central couple (who are the least interesting characters, IMO).

(no subject)

Sat, Apr. 11th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sarahtales.livejournal.com
The fact I gave a horrified gasp just reading this must mean I am a far bigger Peeta girl than even I suspected. ;)

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com
Thanks! I've been interested in this one.

(no subject)

Fri, Apr. 10th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: Senora Sabasa Garcia, by Goya (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] jadelennox
I had no expectations going into the book at all. I didn't know it was the first of a trilogy (the book packaging doesn't do anything to warn you of that). I knew it was about reality television, vaguely, but I don't watch reality television, so that didn't even give me any expectations.

I loved it, and although I thought it was manipulated into loving it by the text I had no real problems with that. I found it one of the things that made Katniss so lovable was that, similarly to Bujold's Cordelia Vorkosigan, people we loved admired her so therefore she must be worth our admiration. That moment at the beginning when everyone gives her their silent support as she runs forward made me get all weepy, even though a large part of my brain was registering admiringly how the text had forced me into finding it poignant before I understood why.

Ditto on Peeta.

And yes, I am definitely looking forward to her revolution.

(no subject)

Sun, Apr. 12th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] keilexandra
I loved it, and although I thought it was manipulated into loving it by the text I had no real problems with that.

This. It's not Deep, but it was such a compelling read. (I am rooting for Katniss/Gale, though.)

(no subject)

Sat, Apr. 11th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sarahtales.livejournal.com
Everyone does seem to love this book, and I am among the crowd peeping like tiny birds for the next in the series! I'm not certain how Collins will be working without the strict limits of the Games, and am a little apprehensive about how teenage Katniss is going to bring down the government, but I trust the writer and am interested to see where it goes even with my fears.

Plus I really liked the meta aspect of Katniss and Peeta's relationship - how good does a performance have to be to convince yourself, the fact neither of them could be blamed for playing a part.

I liked where the love story ended up going too: however, am however firmly Team Peeta, and might be prepared to fight Team Gale in an arena of death. Uh. Metaphorically.

(no subject)

Sat, Apr. 11th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] magicnoire.livejournal.com
Bring it on. ;)

(no subject)

Sat, Apr. 11th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sarahtales.livejournal.com
My second will meet yours in September. For meta, and the not-tall-dark-handsome-much-beloved-by-the-ladies type!

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