Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Hunger Games

I know I'm behind the times, but I just finished reading The Hunger Games series, and I want to talk about it.

Guys.  Woah.
But let me go back to the beginning.

I tore through everything in just three weeks (which is fast for me these days), with my pace picking up as the weeks progressed.  Friday, May 23rd was a half day of work, and when I was home with laundry and nothing to keep my mind occupied, I flipped through Netflix and landed on The Hunger Games.  I hadn't seen it, I knew it was popular, and what the heck, why not?  I knew the premise of the story, so I was sure that sad and hard things would happen, and I guess I wasn't too surprised when I found myself crying during the Games.

I was surprised when, as soon as the first movie finished, I rushed to get my hands on the second.  I waited to watch it until Caleb got home that evening, though, because I was pretty sure I would want him around to hold me should things get rough.  Once Catching Fire finished, I had to know what happens in the third installment, but with the next movie coming out this November and only covering one half of the third book, I knew it was time for a visit to the library.

The soonest I could get to the library was Sunday, May 25th.  They didn't have the third book!  All I could do was to start with the first, I supposed, so I grabbed book number one, put my name in for book number two and three, and read and read and read.  I finished Mockingjay yesterday.

I appreciate how similar the movies are to the books.  The only things they add in are helpful to the progression of the story.  They're the things that were happening outside of Katniss', the narrator's, knowledge, like the conversations between the Head Game Maker and Snow.  They add color and understanding, and they give you a bigger picture than the books.  Then the things that the movie left out, what you can only get from the books, also widens your view.  The movies couldn't spend much time on the personalities of the prep team, for example, but knowing those characters all the way through the books... I just liked it.

What I didn't like, though, was sitting there during most of Mockinjay, scared, worried, and tentatively hopeful for the characters.  I ended up caring much more for Peeta and Finnick than Katniss, but I knew she was my only window into Panem, and there were many times when I empathized with her, as if she acted the way I would have.  (There were a few times when I was yelling at her to speak her mind, but she didn't listen to me.)  I cried a lot.  Lots of awful things happened in the book.  And when I finished, I had to tell myself, "It's not real.  It's not real."  But, I felt that some of it could be real, and I know that terrible, inhumane, atrocious wars are happening now in the real world.  So in the end, it was like getting a full view of what humanity is completely capable of.  Maybe not the futuristic weapons, but the cruelty and selfishness and the insane hunger for power?  Oh yes, all that is already here now.  So I just sat there in the car next to Caleb, shaken and silent, until I had the idea to ask him to tell me about the Charleston vacation we just finished.  (Literally.  We were on the way back home from a splendid trip, riding into the Southern sunset, and there I was feeling shell shocked from finishing my book.)

I don't know how to reconcile the facts that I enjoyed the books and that they covered such terrible things.  Is being entertained by the story the same as being entertained by the Games?  Have you read The Hunger Games series?  What do you think?  Are you looking forward to Mockingjay?  I'm worried about seeing it in theaters because I might just be horrified the entire time.

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