reading The Hunger Games for the first time // my thoughts

Well, we may as well get down to it. As the title of this post implies, until earlier today, I had never read The Hunger Games.

. . .

I’m sure that’s crazy to many of you. While you’re recovering from your intense shock, let me explain. I’ve been interested in the series for a while, but there are so many other books to read, and my parents weren’t sure they wanted me to get into this one. Eventually, though, they said I could read it.

Our library is closed right now, but my sister stopped at our church library and grabbed all three of the Hunger Games books for me. (Thanks, Halt.)

I finished book one this morning and book two about half an hour ago. Because I know I’ll also blaze through Mockingjay, and I can only read it for the first time once (it’s always disappointed me, the way that works), I decided to take a break from reading to tell you all what I thought of the book.

divider

spoiler warning

I’m going to try to avoid it, but there will definitely be some spoilers for The Hunger Games in this review/ramble/thing. So if you haven’t read the book (or seen the movie — I don’t know how similar the plots of the two are, though) and want to, maybe you should come back to this post after you do so.

Plus, this all will make a lot more sense if you’ve read the book.

divider

before I read the book…

…I already knew some things about the plot. I got the concept of the Hunger Games themselves (if you don’t know, it’s basically a live TV event in which 24 kids try to kill the others and be crowned the victor. Yep, it gets pretty gory) and I knew about the love triangle (and how it ends up — but I’m pretty sure that even without knowing, I would’ve shipped Katniss and the guy she actually ends up with). Plus some stuff about Finnick and Annie (thanks to my friend hawkeyerules — if you read this, then hi!), but apparently they don’t come in until later, so that wasn’t helpful.

Honestly, I haven’t been avoiding spoilers for the series at all. I didn’t know when I was going to read it and I didn’t really care if I knew some things about it.

So I went into it with some ideas and expectations (and not all of them were right).

divider

my thoughts while reading chapters 1-11

I started writing down my thoughts while I was reading the book. Here are some of my incoherent thoughts as I read (and the stuff in parentheses is my thoughts now, reading what I wrote):

ch. 1

  • Katniss tried to drown a KITTEN?
    (I still don’t get that. Doesn’t fit the rest of her character.)
  • The sentences are so short that I can’t always follow
    (Suzanne Collins has a writing style unlike any other author I’ve read. I don’t like it that much.)
  • haha, entrails = close to love
    (you have to read the book to get that one)
  • The lack of sentence connection is driving me CRAZY
  • sentence FRAGMENTS
  • “if they had weapons” — why don’t they? “just a knife” — well, how did they get knives?
  • Gale is a GIRL’S NAME!
  • Katniss keeps thinking about random things that are unrelated to the action.
  • comma ≠ every punctuation mark or conjunction ever!
    (I do think that whoever edited the book didn’t understand commas.)
  • Katniss contrasting dying of hunger vs. a bullet in the head — another random thought??
  • For some reason this whole Hunger Games thing is not sounding logical
    (more on that later)
  • Kay I knew it was [highlight spoiler] Prim (getting her name drawn) but that still hit me WOW

ch. 2

  • Not a SINGLE person claps? Um what
    (This is totally unrealistic. Not every person in a whole district would be completely rebellious and refuse to applaud here.)
  • I like the three-finger gesture ♥
    (still do)
  • All forms of stealing are forbidden… but not trash bin looting, that’s “fair game”??
  • This Peeta/Katniss incident is cute
    (I do love all the flashbacks!)
  • The present tense keeps throwing me off
    (it always does whenever I read a book written in it)

ch. 3

  • Ugh this Hunger Games thing is SO CRUEL
  • “I know there must be more… but I don’t spend time thinking about it.” Umm, clearly you’re thinking about it!
  • Hmm, lots of info about mockingjays but I guess they’ll be important later?
  • Kay Katniss that’s just mean
    (Katniss randomly does mean things without remorse. I don’t get it.)

ch. 4

  • Ok, flashback. AGAIN.
  • tense is kinda inconsistent. I almost think the book would work better in past tense

ch. 5

  • Does she have any sense of MODESTY?
    (apparently not much)
  • This is so AWKWARD
  • commas
    (again)
  • “more attractive but utterly recognizable”
    (what does that even mean?)
  • She blows KISSES?
    (out of character!)
  • Then kisses PERSON I WILL NOT NAME
  • Still can’t get over the fact that Peeta is a baker’s son

ch. 6

  • this meal sounds SO GOOD

ch. 7

  • How does Katniss know how her house feels when she’s nowhere near it??
  • Peeta and Katniss’ relationship is awfully weird

ch. 8

  • “artificial candy Capitol” ???
    (weird metaphor that was never used before or after)
  • What do sponsors do??
    (I figured that out later.)

ch. 9/10/11

  • WHAT PEETA WHAT
  • I don’t GET IT
  • She’s just okay with KILLING PEOPLE?

At this point I got really into the action and stopped writing things down.

(Also, I just realized how much I use CAPITAL LETTERS to express emotion.)

divider

thoughts on the characters + world

Katniss

  • I loved her when she was vulnerable and afraid. Her initial nervousness to appear in public, her desire to save Prim and Peeta, and her final choice at the end of the games were my favorite parts.
  • I didn’t understand how she changed her mind back and forth. I like Peeta — I don’t — I do — I don’t! and I don’t know how to act on stage — now I’m totally confident — now I’m awkward again — now I’m BLOWING KISSES. 
  • She had absolutely no problem wearing whatever her designer gave her, letting her stylists do whatever they wanted with her makeup and hair, and going along with her advisors’ suggestions for how to act in public. I understand that she had to comply, but she didn’t mind at all, which felt unrealistic.
  • Her best moments were when she was trying to save other people. Her compassion and love contrasted oddly with her ruthlessness and harshness, and I definitely preferred her kinder side.
Image result for katniss everdeen
images link to their sources

“You look beautiful,” says Prim in a hushed voice.
…I hug her, because I know these next few hours will be terrible for her. Her first reaping. She’s about as safe as you can get, since she’s only entered once…. But she’s worried about me. That the unthinkable might happen.
I protect Prim in every way I can, but I’m powerless against the reaping.

Peeta

  • His dad is a BAKER. Who basically named his son PITA. An editor or beta reader or someone should’ve pointed that out.
  • I loved his constant devotion to Katniss (that might count as a spoiler, but people who are still reading at this point have probably read the book). It was adorable and redemptive.
  • But [spoiler] why did he join up with the Careers? And then help kill someone? He never explained his actions to Katniss and I don’t GET IT!
  • Even though I still don’t think that cake decorating translates into camouflage or being an artist, that skill was interesting. And it was great to read about a hero whose biggest strength was baking. Unexpected and awesome.
  • (Not related to the book, but I don’t think the actor cast as Peeta looks right for his character. I haven’t seen the movie, though, and maybe my mind would change if I did.)

Image result for peeta mellark

“I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only… I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?… I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.”

Gale

  • While he definitely contributed some interesting things to the story in the flashbacks, to me it seemed that Gale was only there to function as part of a (pointless and unnecessary) love triangle. (He is a bit more important in the second book, though, and I hope he does lots in the third, because he ended up being a pretty interesting character.)
  • It was rather unbelievable that both Gale and Peeta had loved Katniss for so long without telling her…?
  • Gale’s devotion to Katniss and his family was great and carried his storyline even when he didn’t seem important. I hope I’d be as brave as him and Katniss if I ever had to support my family.

Image result for gale hawthorne

“We could do it, you know,” Gale says quietly.
“What?” I ask.
“Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it.”

Rue

  • Because Katniss kept confusing Rue and Prim in her mind, so did I. I wish they’d been kept a little more separate.
  • But Rue was a sweet character. Her friendship with Katniss was one of my favorite parts of the book.

Image result for rue hunger games

“You have to win,” she says.
“I’m going to. Going to win for both of us now,” I promise…
“Don’t go.” Rue tightens her grip on my hand.

other characters

  • EFFIE TRINKET was annoying, but I quite liked reading about her.
  • HAYMITCH was confusing. I think I might like him better in the movie, because I think the actor who played him was well cast (in terms of looks). I just didn’t understand his motivations, and he was very internally contradictory.
  • PRESIDENT SNOW was suitably distasteful and conceited (he reminded me of the Grandmaster from Thor: Ragnarok).
  • CAESAR FLICKERMAN amused me.
  • CINNA and all the other stylists were something of a conundrum and I hope we get more of their backstories at some point.
  • I wish there was more time spent with all the other tributes in the games. I think I would’ve cared more when they died (is that a spoiler? well, they don’t all die) if I’d known about who they were and where they came from.

Image result for tributes hunger games

“How’s everything with you?” I call down cheerfully.
This takes them aback, but I know the crowd will love it.
“Well enough,” says the boy from District 2. “You?”
“It’s been a bit warm for my taste,” I say. I can almost hear the laughter from the Capitol.

the world

  • I definitely need more history! I don’t understand how North America became Panem at all (I’m figuring this will be elaborated on in Mockingjay — at least, it had better be).
  • I like the concept of the Districts.
  • The Capitol reminded me a lot of New Attica (from the WondLa books) and the capital city in the Out of Time books. I liked how the author showed that despite the superficial desires and cares of the inhabitants, they were humans and they weren’t any less human for their triviality. (Though looking back, I think that part doesn’t come till Catching Fire… the two books are getting mixed up in my mind since I read them in such quick succession.)

Image result for capitol hunger games

The three step back an admire their work. “Excellent! You almost look like a human being now!” says Flavius.

the Hunger Games

  • The whole concept of the Hunger Games seemed a rather nonsensical idea. I’m curious what the explanation is for how they were invented.
  • Humans, sadly, enjoy watching bloodshed and cruelty (remember the gladiators?) and I thought that was portrayed well in the book.
  • Also, the way that children can turn savage when forced to kill each other was horrific but well-written.

Image result for the hunger games arena 74

The fire starter must have dozed off. They’re on her before she can escape. I know it’s a girl now, I can tell by the pleading, the agonized scream that follows. Then there’s laughter and congratulations from several voices. Someone cries out, “Twelve down and eleven to go!” which gets a round of appreciative hoots.

divider

other thoughts

  • The writing was great (except for the author’s liberal use of misplaced commas and sentence fragments) and the plot was sound. I think, objectively, The Hunger Games is a well-written book that will stand the test of time.
  • There was SO MUCH VIOLENCE! Obviously, the very concept of the story requires it, but it started to become casual and expected. I don’t think that’s ever okay, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend this book to younger children for that reason.
  • But I appreciated that the main characters didn’t randomly kill others, and that their friends’ deaths galvanized them forward to action.
  • The romance element was mainly confusing. I think the story could’ve been just as (or close to) as good without it, or at least with it being a bit simplified.
  • One objection I’ve heard to the series is that there is no God, or higher power, and the characters can only rely on their own skills. This may be true, but it honestly didn’t strike me while I was reading and doesn’t bother me. I’ve read plenty of books by non-Christians that have different worldviews than mine, and I can still enjoy a good story even if I don’t agree with the author.
  • Overall, The Hunger Games is a good book that I definitely will return to. But I’ll never be able to forget my issues with its romance, conflicted characters, violence,  and — most importantly — COMMAS.

divider

HG Fanart cover final thoughts

TITLE: The Hunger Games

AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins

DETAILS: published 2008, 374 pages, aimed at ages 11-13 (by publisher) or 12+ (Common Sense Media)

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY AGE RANGE: ages 13+

DESCRIPTION: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
(from the Amazon description)

divider

in closing

Well, there you have it. I read The Hunger Games for the first time and proceeded to write a 2.5k blog post about it!

If you enjoyed this post, let me know! Should I write more posts like this? What do you think of The Hunger Games? Do you think I’d like the movie?

And what do you think of all those misplaced commas?

sign off

56 thoughts on “reading The Hunger Games for the first time // my thoughts

  1. Great thoughts, Maya! I enjoyed reading this post! I’ve been trying to decide for a while whether I want to read these books or not (mainly because I have some friends who love them), and this post gave me a good idea of the content/themes/writing/etc. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Hey!!! Really enjoyed reading the review. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and actually read the books (since I saw the movies more recently), but still enjoyed the review. I hope you like the last book just as much
    And yeah, some of the scene and sentence changes were confusing, but I liked them. I think they were written that way to make the story more disorienting

  3. I have only read the first book (in sixth grade; violence didn’t bother me then as well XDD) but never got into it. I have heard from one of my English teachers (doing a study on differing opinions on books) that the book had a great concept that was poorly executed (in terms of writing, I believe she meant). Glad to hear that you liked it though! I found the first book enjoyable as well but loved her other series better! 🙂

      • Nooo, she hasn’t. I do hear she’s writing (or already wrote) a sort of prequel to Hunger Games recently, though! (XDD, no judgment here, but yes, I liked that series)

  4. I have never read the Hunger Games, and I don’t have much incentive to pick it up. But it was interesting to read your thoughts on the book, and I would like to hear any further ideas and opinions on the subject.
    The picture of the Hunger Games covers that look as if they come from an older era piques my interest and curiosity. I haven’t seen modern books in vintage style before, but I like that concept.

  5. this post was so good! I personally am a huge fan of the hunger games and you should totally watch the movie right now! granted the movie is violent and Rues death in the movie is soooooo sad but Jennifer Lawrence is literary the best actress ever! She acts so well and I hardly ever see better acting then that. So yeah, the movies are completely worth it and plus Finnick is so amazing in the movies!

  6. I’ve never read HG.
    Honestly I might not because the trilogy I wrote has some similarities and, y’know, I don’t want to be accused of copying. 😛 Anyways. Cool reviews!

  7. I just read The Hunger Games for the first time too! But I am a bit behind because I am still only partway through Catching Fire. (On the other hand, I have seen all the movies multiple times, so there’s that.)

    I am glad that someone else is frustrated by the love triangle. It really does feel largely unnecessary. I like Gale as a character and I wish he could actually just be Katniss’ cousin. The love triangle drives me crazy actually, and it demeans all the characters involved. In the book it is especially aggravating. I think it’s not as bad in the movie because we don’t get all of Katniss’ confusing thoughts on the matter.

    I think that the movie Peeta takes some getting used to (I say this because my mom read the book and it took her a while to get used to the movie because he wasn’t how she pictured), but he does a good job. It’s different, but not bad. It is funny though that in the book they make such a point of him being big and strong and they cast a short guy in the movie. He’s still strong of course. But he’s short. (As a major fan of hobbits, I find no fault with this myself, but it definitely bothers some people.)

    Haymitch is wonderful in the movie. They cast him brilliantly. I also like Cinna better in the movie. The other stylists are barely in it though.

    Honestly my biggest problem with the books is the writing style. I feel the comma frustration, but it’s more than that. The whole way it’s put together feels very bland. The story is good and the characters are good and the world is good, but the writing is just a very boring vehicle to get these things across, instead of something that aids the story. When I read a book, I want the words to matter. But mostly they didn’t. The dialogue wasn’t always great, and the way scenes were put together was often lacking as well. It’s like the skeleton was super strong, but the finer layers on top needed some work still. (Do editors exist?)

    Of course I haven’t finished the books yet, but so far I actually prefer the movies. I know this is sacrilege coming from a bookworm, but the strongest things about these books are the concept, characters and plot, which all translate perfectly well to movie form. Plus you have the added benefit of excellent actors and a beautiful score. It feels like the kind of book that was written to be a movie.

    So yeah, long story short, I would definitely recommend watching the movies. I am totally biased though, because I have loved the movies for years, and have only just now started acquainting myself with the books.

    Great post! I loved reading your thoughts on this, and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one reading this series for the first time!

    • Hey, thanks for reading! I absolutely loved reading your comment. Maybe we can talk again once we both finish Mockingjay, and I’ll let you know if I ever get to the movies.

      • I finished Mockingjay a few days ago! I think that overall it was a really solid series, though the writing style and the love triangle bothered me throughout. I love the way the story ends and the prominent theme of redemption. It is my favorite kind of ending. Overall I still enjoy the movies better. I think that they made some wise choices in what they changed for the movie, but there were definitely some details that I enjoyed getting in the book, especially about Haymitch and Joanna. There were a few really good scenes from the movie that I missed in the book. What were your thoughts after finishing Mockingjay, and do you think you’ll watch the movies?

        • Sorry for not replying! I didn’t comment back immediately so I’d have time to think about it and then forgot…
          I love Haymitch and Joanna. My favorite character is definitely Finnick, though. Mockingjay wasn’t bad, but then ending felt super tidy and quick. I would’ve appreciated more resolution, especially on the issue of the presidents.
          I do want to watch the movies but I’m not sure when I’ll get around to them.

          • No problem!
            There are a lot of great characters, but Finnick, Haymitch and Joanna are definitely some of my favorites as well. 🙂
            I know what you mean about the ending! (I guess just to clarify, when I said I liked the ending I meant the epilogue- the way the war wraps up isn’t necessarily that great). It did seem a little rushed. Overall the story of Mockingjay is weaker than the first two, and plotwise I think Catching Fire is my favorite. Everything culminates so well in that one, and it builds so well on the first one. Mockingjay feels kind of meandering after that, and the war doesn’t feel as believable as the games- which is kind of ironic.

    • (I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes note of the characters’ physical build and descriptions and compare them to the movie versions *grins* 🙂 I’m also happy to report that in my view, the books and movies are equally valuable and good. 🙂 So glad they didn’t mess up the book/story.

  8. Great post!!

    Really I had no complaints about Collins’ writing style. It felt realistic, short, and very much like Katniss’s personality. 😛 I could relate somewhat to her (not fully, but some). Certainly not the most poetic.

    Compared to DUNE by Frank Herbert that I’m reading right now, it’s a breeze. 😛

    🙂

  9. I’ve never read The Hunger Games, but it strikes me as a bit of a hypocritical book..? Idk, I’ve never read it but my impression is that either it could be really good or disappointing – and a book I would have many opinions on. xD
    It’s always been one of those books that is on my tbr list because of how much I’ve heard of it. I found this post fascinating! Amazing job writing this summary. Now I find myself wanting to read it more.(:

  10. It’s been two years I think since I read this trilogy and I honestly cannot remember the commas/sentence structure bothering me at all.
    😛
    Usually I actually am quite nitpicky about grammar and punctuation so I’m surprised you found it annoying. Next time I read it I shall try to remember to look for that.

    I actually appreciated Collins’ narration in terms of presentation of the violence in the story. It’s not gratuitously done. And I REALLY appreciated how Katniss is not like a typical YA-genre girl 😛 (who tend to be too boy/kiss crazy to suit me).

    Have you heard that Collins’ is releasing a prequel novel this spring?

    Really wonderfully done post! I love how you delve into your experience of this book! 🙂 I think it should encourage more people to know about it/read it (if they haven’t already…).

    • I’ve heard about the prequel and I hope it’s good. I’ll definitely be reading it!
      Katniss was a great MC (although her conflicting feelings about Peeta and Gale definitely annoyed me).
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post (:

  11. The Hunger Games is my favorite book ever… I’ve read it over 10 times and watched hundreds of hours’ worth of the movies, and I feel like it just clicks with me? I have such a deep understanding of the story, the world, the characters, the themes, literally everything. I love the writing style so so much, I adore the characters, I love the world (as much as I can lol), and I never ever thought the romance was really that much of a focus? Like Katniss is confused in the beginning but until the end, she’s not thinking about it at all. And then she fakes it for the audience, because that’s how the Games work. You win because the audience wants you to win. And I just really connect with Katniss a lot and understand her? One reason she might seem confusing is because she has a static character arc. She changes, certainly, but she starts off knowing the “Truth” of her arc and never wavers from that. That can be confusing for people who are used to a standard positive character arc.

    I don’t have time to respond to all of the comments you made, but I’m glad you enjoyed this overall! I actually plan on doing a post analyzing and explaining things in the series because I love it so much 💚💚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s