34 New Things: Read ‘The Hunger Games’

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try.  Some are easy, some are difficult, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past shenanigans here
 
 

 

There are very few areas of my life in which I’m snobby.
I will tell you all about how I purchased the Ke$ha album (like, the physical cd. like, the special edition one with a dvd and a t-shirt.) I’ve been known to eat nutrional yeast by the spoonful and I once wrote a piece for a major website about how much I loved Jersey Shore.
But we’ve all got our special pockets of snobbery and mine is probably literature.  I like “character driven” pieces.  I like non-fiction.  I throw J.D. Salinger-themed dinner parties, forpetessake.  (Yes, I can hear your eye-rolling from over here.) I like plenty of popular, non-serious writers (David Sedaris! Bill Bryson!) but I’m not really into YA/chick lit/beach reads.  It’s just not how I roll.
So, I avoided reading The Hunger Games because when everybody tells me to read something I will sulkily refuse to do so.  I will wait till the movie comes out and the book becomes so deeply embedded in pop culture that when I post a photo of myself wearing a sidebraid and using a bow, every single comment references this book.Okay, fine!  I’ll read it.You guys. THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT 24 CHILDREN KILLING EACH OTHER FOR SPORT.

I spent the entire first third of the book wondering how the author could possibly write this in such a way that we didn’t hate everyone or cry through the entire thing.  I’ve been known to stop reading books when I don’t like the foreshadowing (it took me three tries to get through A Fine Balance) so I found myself glaring at the pages and turning them hesitently.

It is, of course, a depressing and violent book.  But I think there’s a lot to be said (and god knows, a million other people have pointed this out) for strong, adventurous female characters serving as role models for girls.  Katniss saves her family and her dude and challenges the patriarchy!  And she’s not even 18!

While I wasn’t totally overwhelmed by the calibar of the writing and I’m not sure that I’ll read the rest of the books, it should be said that I did stay up till 3am finishing this one.  Which is certainly more than can be said for the last time I read a Pulitzer-winning book.

Have you read this series?  How’d you feel about them?  Which character is your favorite?  (I love Cinna!)

40 Comments

Samantha Kimble

Okay, so I read the series even thought I swore I wouldn't and freaking loved it. What I kept laughing to myself about was the two guys in the book would falling all over Katniss and whining about who she was going to be with (which is usually how the female role) and she was all like "Dude, get over it. Can't you see that we are in the middle of a war/trying to not get killed/being forced to kill one another/I'm trying to save your ass?

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Amber-Rose Thomas

First book, great! Second book, good. Third book, "did she write this when drunk?"

I liked Katniss, she was an interesting female lead, but I found that the male characters just weren't quite right…
I love Cinna though. All praise Cinna.

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Kit

I stayed away for quite some time as I thought it sounded a bit sick. But, I saw the film on Netflix one day and quite enjoyed it. My sister has read the books and loved them so I think I might give them a go for some super light reading this summer.

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Erin Gibson

I avoided this series like the plague (or like TWILIGHT) for quite awhile, but I was so impressed with the first movie that I trotted right down to the library and picked it up and OH MY GOD I LOVED IT. It was so unexpected. There isn't a single character in the book who isn't deeply flawed, and while the writing isn't necessarily GREAT, I thought the storytelling was wonderful.

I loved Cinna too! And he continues to be amazing beyond the first book. I also really came to adore Haymitch – he grew on me like a weed throughout the series.

Thoroughly agree with Amber-Rose that the third book really jumps the shark.

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selena

I read the whole series and thought the movie did a terrible job of representing! Better than the Twilight books though, and I thought the Twilight movies were better than the books, reverse of this series.

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Eleanor Harte

I loved this book. Definitely unexpected the first time I read it (I've read them all probably three times…) and Katniss is my favorite. THe third book, like Amber-Rose said, is definitely not as good. But the second is my favorite!

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Maggie

I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the Hunger Games and did all my undergrad literary critical theory work on the Hunger Games. I wrote papers on gender theory, race theory, marxism, Freudian psychology, the Campbell quest model, you name it. It was nerd city for about a year there… culminating in the moment I was interviewed by a Canadian radio station as a "subject expert." So file that under "weirdest 15 minutes of fame ever."

Needless to say, I find the books absolutely fascinating. Granted, I find all YA fascinating, but HG was especially intriguing to me.

Favorite character: Finnick. But he doesn't join the party until book 2.

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Jessica Hobin

I read the hunger games I think a year before the movie came out (I was super excited for the movie as soon as I heard Kristen Stewart wasn't in it, haha) and I really liked it. Not Harry Potter status or anything, but good. I did not care for the second one though. I actually hated the second book, and rather enjoyed the third.

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Caitlin

Love Love Love the Hunger Games Series!!! Super intense and different than every other fairy tale story out there! I also really really liked the movie, even if I was cynical during the casting stage. Jennifer Lawrence does an amazing job as does everyone else. I highly recommend finishing the series. 🙂

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Kerry

I read this series because EVERYONE I KNEW, including my dad, recommended it to me. And I was so glad I did! Normally I'm not into books that involve a ton of violence, but I really enjoyed it. My favorite character is also Cinna, but that's mostly because Lenny Kravitz played him in the movie.
Also, if you ever feel like reading more YA, I give tons of recommendations in my YA column on HelloGiggles! 🙂 http://hellogiggles.com/originals/young-adult-education

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Nicole

I agree with you that it has its shortcomings — the writing is far from high literature.
As a high school teacher, I really think its biggest benefit comes from the fact that kids will read it, even the boys (which, to be honest, is sometimes nothing short of a miracle). I taught it to a class this past year, and they were reading ahead, I even had a raffle for kids to win the second book.

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Megan Anderson

I think these books are amazing not because of the strong female lead (even though that is obviously AWESOME), but because of the the social commentary. I love when dystopian novels are used to criticize current culture in a non-threatening way, and that is what this series does. This is much more apparent in the latter two books. I highly recommend reading the second two novels through this lens if you like novels such as Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451, all of which are classics with themes which overlap with those in The Hunger Games series.

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Kaitlin Marie

My Aunt, who is a voracious reader of all things, gifted me and my sister books 1 and 2 of the Hunger Games long before there was any movie buzz. I finished book 1 the same night I received it and book 2 the very next day. They are THAT GOOD. (Of course, then I had to wait over a year for book 3, which isn't nearly as good as the first two. Bummer.)

As an English major, I can be a book snob from time to time, but I also LOVE dystopian stories and sci fi. ( Read Garth Nix's "Sabriel"! It's WONDERFUL!)

I actually just started reading Divergent and the request of my sister (who is a chick-lit addict), and I was shocked by how much I'm loving it. I was loathe to read it for the same reasons you weren't into the Hunger Games (ie. they're making a movie about it, everyone is talking about it, blah blah, etc), but after my dad read and loved it, I knew I had to read it.

My personal moral of this story: book snobbery doesn't do you much good. I love "character-driven" literature too, but it's occasionally fun to read fluff. I take as much joy in reading a terrible novel as I do in watching a terrible movie for fun. Sometimes it's fun to pick something apart.

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Allie

I'm not usually into YA at ALL…but it's sooo good! I didn't like Twilight or anything like that but I just loved Katniss. I want to be friends with herrrrr. Anyways, glad you've read it! xx

Allie / callmesassafras.wordpress.com

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kai

You are braver than me. I finally caved and tried to read the Game of Thrones series. I made it halfway through book one before throwing in the towel. I might give the Hunger Games a try but like you I'm more of a literature/non-fiction type. I stayed up until 3 a.m. reading The Passage of Power, the fourth installment of Robert A. Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson series, lol.

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selena

I read all the GOT books and liked them but they can be hard to get through! HG is a super quick read though.

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Girliest Nerd

I really loved it because I joined the Army when I was 17 (Canada). Almost everyone else I joined with was a teenager too. Now that I'm twice that age and no longer in it I relate to the idea of making teenagers fight our wars for us and I think of the other, even younger, child soldiers who didn't fight or train in a professional army. That's what I get away from it – a criticism of how sick it is that we let our kids die for our greed. That we sacrifice people so that a select few can live the good life.

I think every young person should read this book.

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Julianne

That is EXACTLY what I got from THG too – it's about reality. Governments actually do send children out to fight each other.

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Girliest Nerd

Thank you. I feel like I'm banging my head on a wall when people say the book is unrealistic or call it a light read or fluff (really??). THG's are just more organized and showy than the reality, which is teenagers in both professional and "non-professional" armies who are dying every day.

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Anonymous

I resisted reading the series, given the hype, and actually saw the movie first. I loved the film, and figured I should probably try the series. (This is SO OPPOSITE to how I normally like to do things! Book first always!!)

I enjoyed the first book in the series, but the other 2 were a bit disappointing. I don't want to give anything away, but basically I didn't feel like the author REALLY took on the big issues that she could have. Everything stayed a bit "shallow" and never got particularly moving, at least for me. Also I found the writing kinda "meh" and Katniss' internal dialogue a bit juvenile.

However, I have to agree with Samantha Kimble: "the two guys in the book would falling all over Katniss and whining about who she was going to be with (which is usually how the female role) and she was all like "Dude, get over it. Can't you see that we are in the middle of a war/trying to not get killed/being forced to kill one another/I'm trying to save your ass?" It was nice to see the gender roles flipped!

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Mel

I have all 3 books, but haven't started reading them yet because 1) I don't really do YA – even when I WAS a young adult, and 2) I cried through most of the movie because the society being represented was so disturbingly close to reality AND THE OTHER PEOPLE IN THE THEATER THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY. This is my version of a horror story.

Anyway. Now I need to write down all of the suggestions in the comments and restock my To Read list. 🙂

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Linda Loui

My (then 10 year old)son ordered the series through Scholastic last year because his friend was reading them. I read to him before bed – usually books that are a bit difficult for him on his own – then he will re read the ones he really likes by himself. We read all of these before the movie came out. I'm actually re reading the first one right now, so it was funny your post came out today. The second one was not so good for me, but I liked the third one. I love Cinna, also Haymitch, especially when I got to know his backstory later on. I'm like you, though, if everyone is reading something I will not do it. I just read the Harry Potter series last year – of course I've read them all 3 times since and now own all the DVD's.

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Kaisa

I am still avoiding it… though once I also used to avoid Harry Potter and then I end up reading new books also at night clubs and so on. Addictions catch us when we least expect them to. x)

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Chelle Lynn

I know that snobbery feel. I'm super open about…well…almost everything, but beach reads? Chick lit? Ew. I go out of my way not to be that judgy person ("OMG, I HATE Beyonce…she, so, like…*Beyonce*" (we all hate that person (also, I actually met someone the other day who hates Beyonce…who hates Beyonce!?))), but I have a really hard time taking seriously anyone who is *really* into Twilight or anything in the Twilight family. That being said, I know that there is actual merit in some of these books that I am missing due to my prejudice (hey, English major over here). I do often wonder what, exactly, it is that I'm missing out on, but I guess I'm just resigned to being a crotchety old person…literarily, at least.

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Samantha J. Bird

Beach reads make me shudder (and not in the good way…). Twilight is in it's own category…far, far away from all the other books, except Fifty Shades of Grey. It's a shame about the way Twilight was written because it actually could have been a good story if it was written better and had a few tweaks. (Yep, I actually did read them all – I cannot get that time back, damnit).

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Ashley

I can't wrap my head around your photograph at the top. Do you have a pet panther, or is your book just really small? 🙂

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Samantha J. Bird

I have a soft spot for novels about dystopian societies, and some of my favourites are actually YA or New Adult, rather than regular adult. I really enjoyed the Hunger Games series and found the society freakishly fascinating. I'm not bothered by gore and the idea of children killing – it's obviously disturbing, but it's a really interesting concept to me. How might the world look in 100 years? What if this were to happen for real? I like that I found the storyline plausible, however minutely.

I would recommend reading the other two books, though there is more gore and you may want to throw the book across the room in frustration at times. I credit the author though because all my favourite books are the ones that create the biggest emotional reactions in me. 🙂

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Kerry

I agree – I wasn't drawn in by the description of 24 kids put in an arena to kill each other. My first thought was, "no thank you." Then I started to read them because a friend loved them so much. I read all three in four days. It just gets to you. If I were you I would read all three. Catching Fire – the second one is my favorite. You meet Finnick, Peeta gets to be more of a bad ass, you learn more about Haymitch, and I think the social commentary becomes more relevant. Also, Katniss continues to be Katniss.

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Liz(a)

I have the first book, but I haven't read it yet. 😡 I watched the movie, and it was totally different from what I thought that it would be like. I really love Katniss the best, because I feel as though I can relate to her a lot in so many ways and on many different levels.

The killing of the kids is too crazy for me, though. It's an amazing movie, and I do hope to read the book soon, but the entire idea is so crazy and revolting, and I think that that is what draws me to it so much.

It really is violent, though. And depressing.

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Anonymous

'While I wasn't totally overwhelmed by the calibar of the writing ..'

It's calibre 🙂

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