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I'll be honest, I told myself I wasn't going to give into the hype of “The Hunger Games”. Not that it looked bad or I paid any attention to the “it's like Twilight/a girly version of Battle Royale” bitching, but it was everywhere I looked and everyone's had that defiant feeling of “you're too popular and I won't get sucked into you”.

But get sucked in I did. The film came out just a week ago and with all the raving, I'll admit I wanted to join in and see what the fuss was about. Me being house-bound I couldn't really see it in the cinema, and even if I did, my experiences with Harry Potter told me I should probably check out the books to see if I liked them first. So I brought the trilogy on Tuesday for a very good price of £12.95, got them on Wednesday and settled into reading immediately.

Sweet fucking Jesus. And I'm not exaggerating. This trilogy reignited my childhood love for reading, a feeling I only last remember with Harry Potter, staying up into the early hours of the morning to finish it because how on earth could I live with myself if I put it down to sleep? I actually finished it in 32 hours, gaining a giant ache in my neck and losing about five pounds because I was so distracted from my “sleep – computer – eat” existence.

Okay, let's start with the first thing that I love so much about this series: the main character. Katniss is awesome, and not just because I've seen Jennifer Lawrence be cute and adorable in interviews. This might be odd, but my favorite thing about her is that she talks like a teenage girl. The things she actually talks about aren't, of course, she didn't even need the Games to be broken, but she's still seventeen; she's snarky, she takes silly things to heart, she's awkward and in the lighter moments I can see a few of my friends in her - intimidating and a force of nature, but you feel better for knowing her, no matter what she tells you.

This series has a talent for that, introducing a lot of new characters and making you like them almost instantly. All the better to stab you in the heart when they're broken or killed, but we'll get to that later. The main boy is Peeta, who could have easily been one of those Nice Guys, the obsessed kind who you're meant to root for but just end up being skeevy, but he's warm and sweet and I can see why Tumblr was sighing over him constantly. The other is Gale. Gale... well, there's not really much to say about him, he's introduced as cynical, brave and very much acting like an older brother and he stays that way. Not like that's a bad thing, I never once got bored of him, but I also never believed that he and Kat could love each other as anything other than family.

One thing I especially liked was that the boys never really hated each other, or fought for Kat's love. Sure, they were jealous, but that's understandable given the places they were basically forced into by the media and I was relieved when there was no Twilight-esque hissyfits. And speaking of, I'm still scratching my head as to where the Twilight comparisons came from, but then I just make myself smile by imagining Katniss flinging an arrow into Bella's eye.

Speaking of the media, I never got tired of that angle. The descriptions of the clothes were gorgeous, the star-crossed romance plot given a new twist by a real love forming out something originally just for show, the interviews when Peeta excels and Kat worries that she looks like a silly little girl, the cosmetic surgery comments so meaninglessly chucked around and the idea that the pretty victors are used as whores both chilled me to the bone. I enjoyed that A) the double standard of the girls having to be plucked of every hair and the boys weren't subjected to it wasn't chucked in your face and B) the rebels styled Kat just as much, it wasn't just “ooh, evil Capitol using you” in that sense.

I should probably talk about the morality now. It's very dark and bleak, of course it would be, you've got kids trained to kill each other and bastards on both sides, but unlike Supernatural or Buffy where the angst got so overblown it was funny and the once lovable characters turning into machines, there are enough moments of sweetness or humor to make you still care. And judging by the sheer trauma I'd heard about (and is 100% accurate by the way), I think that opinion is shared by the majority. You start losing the ability to give a shit if it's just crushing darkness, you know.

Although, like with anything, there are flaws. The majority of the books are extremely well-written, but there is a tendency to have a page or two where a revelation will be told through exposition, perhaps because boundaries of the first person POV. The first person POV was very good by the way, I'm usually hitting the back button on fanfics written in that style, but here it worked because, like I said above, Katniss feels very human and has a lot to say.

The other flaw is that it can get quite anvilly with the decadence of the Capitol. Yes, we know the Capitol is rich and the districts are poor, did you have to trigger bulimia memories to get that in? But this is my own bias, so you might feel differently.

One extra quibble is that I question if it was really right for such broken people like Katniss and Peeta to have kids, but it's played as an incredibly bittersweet end and I can't really complain too much.

To end, I'll borrow from Doug's review about the movie. The fact that this is marketed to teenagers and other young adults gains it a lot of points. It doesn't treat them like idiots, it carries the suspense of who you can trust just enough for you not to get irritated, it doesn't shy away from the horrors of torture, war, muttations that are genuinely terrifying, the grief of losing people or not knowing what to do, the dread that something horrible could happen at any moment and how hard it is to find the strength to carry on.

In conclusion, this book gives me so many feelings and I love it so.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
I'm one of those hipsters annoyed with the mainstream media's, "there's never been anything like this before, omfg," junk, but you've made a compelling case that the trilogy has merit on its own.

I may have actually have to look into this.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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