Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hunger Games

So the premiere of the Hunger Games movie snuck up on me much more quickly than I expected. I had planned on doing a whole week of posts leading up to it, recipes from the Hunger Games Cookbook, discussion of the book, etc. But now the premiere is tomorrow night! I figure right now I'll just give an overview of the book for anyone who hasn't read it, and discuss it a little. I'll try not to give anything major away. I may still attempt a recipe tonight or tomorrow to post. I'll definitely have a post after the movie, either praising it or ranting about it.

Anytime anyone tries to describe the Hunger Games, it sounds like the most unappealing book. Doesn't matter who, or how it's described. When people first started telling me about it, I had no desire to read it. Once all of my friends started raving about it, and the movie was announced (and looked totally awesome on its own), I figured I would cave and just read the first one. Well, I read the first book in one sitting, in about 10 hours. Then, of course, I had to get the second, Catching Fire, and the third, Mockingjay. I devoted the next two days to reading those, with little more than bathroom and food breaks. In my description, I'll concentrate on the first book, since maybe I'll actually do a full series of posts when the next two movies come out.

The Hunger Games world is a post-apocalyptic civilization called Panem, and is populated by the remainder of the human race. It's what used to be North America, but instead of countries and states, it's divided into Districts. There are 13 districts, each with a specialty - mining, textiles, agriculture, etc. In the center of the Districts is the Capitol. The Capitol is where all of the wealthy, eccentric citizens live, and it's the hub of the government. The leader is "President" Snow, but it's pretty much a dictatorship. If you break a rule, or say anything against the Capitol, it's punishable by death.

Once, the Districts all rose up against the Capitol, trying to regain their rights and freedom. This resulted in the supposed destruction of District 13, as well as the institution of the Hunger Games. As punishment for the revolt, every year there are two children - a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 - chosen from each District. They're sent to the Capitol, beautified and made into celebrities, trained in wilderness survival and how to use various weapons, and sent into an arena. There are weapons and supplies scattered around, which are usually taken by the strongest and toughest in the bunch. The contestants then proceed to try to kill one another. They fight for survival until one is left - the victor. The Games are televised, and the citizens of the Capitol watch for entertainment, and the citizens of the Districts are forced to watch as their children are killed off. Since the Districts are kept poor and wanting, the victor's District gets food for a year, and the victor is set up in a fancy house with plenty of money, basically a celebrity. They're usually too emotionally and mentally scarred to enjoy any wealth or stardom, though.

The first book is set around the 74th Hunger Games. The main characters are from District 12 - Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. Katniss's sister is actually chosen for the Games, but is only 12 years old, so Katniss (16 years old) volunteers to go in her place. Peeta is actually the youngest in his family, but he's the same age as Katniss and his brothers don't volunteer to go in his place. Katniss knows a bit about wilderness survival and a lot about hunting since she was taught by her father before he died, and she hunts illegally in the woods to feed her family, and sell meat on the black market. Peeta's family owns the bakery in town. They're a little more well-off than Katniss's family. He becomes known as The Boy with the Bread, because once when he and Katniss were younger, he intentionally burned some bread so he could give it to her, since her father had just died and her family was starving.

I won't give away anything major in the plot, but as you can surmise, Peeta and Katniss are sent off to the Capitol, fancied up, trained, and sent into the arena for the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Since there are two sequels, you can probably guess who wins the Games, but you'll just have to read it for yourself.

It's difficult to describe the books any more succinctly than that. When someone asks me what they're about, I usually just say they're about kids being forced to fight to the death. Unappealing sounding, right? Well, give them a chance and I guarantee you'll be sucked in and instantly obsessed. I was, anyway. They keep you on the edge of your seat most of the time, they're pretty excellently written, and as you get to know the characters, you just have to keep reading to see what happens.

Now, I hate when book-to-film movies deviate too much from the book. I know they have to scale them down to fit it into two hours, but when they change little details that had no reason to be changed, or they change major plot points, I end up hating the movie. So, after I see it tomorrow night, you'll either get a gushing post about how amazing it was, or a rant about how they changed everything and it was horrible. I'm also going to try to make something from the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook tonight or tomorrow, so you can get a little taste for the book... literally. So if you haven't already read these books, I highly recommend that you go out and buy or borrow them. You won't regret it!


  1. I love the Hunger Games! You're right, as a concept it sounds rubbish, but its so amazing!

  2. Even though I really don't like fiction books, your summary is probably the first description that made me somewhat interested in reading them... It probably won't happen, though :P


To leave a comment without using one of the listed accounts, use the "Name/URL" option. You can leave the URL (website) blank, but fill in your name!