April 15, 2012

The Hunger Games series - Spring 2012

My friends had talked about these books for some time. I remember when Mockingjay came out, it was such a big deal. I had missed the boat so to speak. I knew about them and had not wanted to read them because they sounded violent and horrifying. I mean, a bunch of kids being forced to kill one another for other people's entertainment? How awful!

But after the movie came out and it was obvious that so many - SO MANY- people adored this series, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to go ahead and read them.  I got the first on sale at Marshalls for $6, but it still took a little while for me to read it.

Overall, I find the world Collins creates fascinating, and I like Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the rest of her characters. I enjoy how the relationships between Katniss and the two male love interests develop and grow - they didn't just lock eyes and fall in love without even speaking.  I appreciate Katniss as a strong female role model. She's smart, and strong, and independent.  Yes she's pretty.  Yes, she has 2 men vying for her affections, but that does not consume her.  She has more important things to do than fawn over the handsome hunter and the sweet baker.  Like you know, take care of her family.  Lead a revolution.  Survive. 

But I do find the violence of the Games disturbing, and it made it hard for me to read this series, and it is why I put it off for so long. I just can't seem to bring myself to read about (or watch tv/movies about) violent or horrific things (slavery, war, the Holocaust) anymore.  I've given up watching CSI, SVU and all those other crime shows where people are hacked to death or raped and left for dead on the side of the road. I just can't sleep at night after watching them. But I understand why the author uses the violence in the story, and it's certainly not celebrated or gratuitous. She WANTS the thought of children being essentially sacrificed for entertainment to be driven home and seen for how ghastly and atrocious it is. Because this makes you realize how despicable those in power must be.

The thing I liked best about the series was that it made me think. About government, war, control through fear and intimidation, the media, "panem et circenses" (bread and games aka society giving up political power for food and amusements), and other things too. The race issues that came up following the release of the movie also made me think about our society.

I won't say that I thought it lived up to the hype. Cause in my mind it didn't. Was it a good series? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Will I read it again? Eh, maybe but probably not.  I do think it gained momentum as it went along.  Mockingjay was the best of the 3. But I did become engrossed in it, and have true affection for the characters. So I'll give it 4 stars.

ETA: I liked what my friend Mary said on her review in Goodreads so much that I wanted to post it here where I'll remember it in the future:
" A somewhat post-feminist comfort with her female characters. Women can be anything in these books. That includes the plucky, tomboy action heroine, and the healer-mother, but also any other role: resistance leaders, conniving politician, druggy soul-scarred survivor, bootcamp Sargent,propaganda-savvy director included. Come to think of it, men, too, are soldiers and hunters, but also cake-decorators, stylists, prostitutes, producers, and conniving politicians and druggy soul-scarred survivors (there are an awful lot of the last two in the series). And all of this feels surprisingly natural, surprisingly like Collins isn't trying to make a point with it. It's just the way things are."

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