I finally read The Hunger Games! Now I know what all the fuss was about. The plot unfolds at just the right pace. As the New York Times’ Stanley Fish wrote, “you’re always on the hook.” And if you have (or had) an experience like mine, you form such a bond with the protagonist – Katniss Everdeen – that it becomes almost impossible to put the book down without knowing her fate. Although Haymitch Abernathy (Katniss’ mentor) at one point calls her “sullen,” “hostile” and having “about as much charm as a dead slug,” Katniss is honest – at least in her behind-the-scenes dealings – and as the reader, you somehow understand just about every move she makes. When she volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, for instance, you might think: I would do the same for my little brother or sister. And as for me, when Katniss’ feelings for Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne begin confusing her, well, let’s just say I’ve been there…
Another beautiful and relatable aspect of the story is Katniss’ friendship with Rue. Rue is the answer to Katniss’ loneliness. She is sweet as pie and reminiscent of Katniss’ sister, Prim. I was heartbroken when she died, but at the same time, given my strong alliance with Katniss, I couldn’t help but feel relieved because in order for Katniss to survive the Games, Rue needed to die. But Katniss doesn’t seem at all relieved. She genuinely mourns the loss of her friend, and though risky, decides to honor Rue following her death.
Katniss “decorates” Rue’s body in flowers not only to honor her, but also to take revenge on the “Capitol.” In doing this, Katniss defies the norms of the Games outright, but this would not be her last act of defiance.
In all honesty, the Capitol’s reaction to Katniss’ final rebellion has made me uneasy about reading the second book. In a way, I feel lucky that Katniss walked away from the Games, and I wish that she could return home and put the Games behind her, but I know this won’t happen… Okay, okay, I admit: I’ll probably pick up the next book in no time, but still I’m apprehensive. Is it just me?
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’d like to think that first of all, Katniss could live happily ever after and second of all, the world would never come to this. It may surprise you to learn that the Games themselves upset me less than the socioeconomic disparities between the “Districts.” The extreme hunger the people of Districts 11 and 12 endure on a daily basis was so upsetting to me, I think, because it’s not farfetched like the Games; it’s not off-base. Poverty and hunger are real, observable problems in today’s world. So, as I reflect on this book, a desire to address existing inequalities expands in me. Perhaps this is the lens through which I’ll present The Hunger Games if I use it in one of my classes someday.
Posted by SD