Blogging A to Z Day 9: The Hunger Games

I first read The Hunger Games just after they released the U.S. paperback editions. I had some time over the summer to do some light reading, and I’d been hearing so much about the series that I decided to buy the set. I read them in less than a week, and I probably would’ve read them all in one sitting if I could’ve–I’m a sucker for dystopias and for well-rendered, badass female characters.

I knew from the second page of the book that Katniss Everdeen was going to be One of Those. She’s is stalking around outside her district, trying to hunt food without being caught. She is followed by a mountain lion, and she thinks of this creature as a friend for a while. But then the creature starts making too much noise, and she kills it. This is on the second page of the book.

This is a girl that we do not often see the likes of in literature. She is flawed, but she is strong. She’s strong enough to be a little frightening, and we know this immediately.

And then there was the society itself. A post-apocalyptic world with a vaguely familiar geography an exaggerated class stratification, a place where children fought one another in a frightening arena. The class differences were so obvious when they were pitted against one another, when children who’d gone hungry all their lives and never held a weapon had to fight children who’d trained like Spartan warriors for the day they’d volunteer for the battle.

And then it was televised. The death of 23 children every year, forced to fight one another. And all this a reminder  Panem, we find out in Mockingjay, is derived from the Latin panem et circenses-literally bread and circuses, but figuratively the cultural exchanges that happen when elaborate entertainments are used to pacify and to distract citizens from major problems.

Katniss changes things, though. She doesn’t do what the ringleader demands of her, and the circus begins to fall apart. The beauty of The Hunger Games lies in being in the center of the ugliness without actually being there. You’re looking in from outside—and then you realize that you’re in the place of a Capitol citizen, watching (or reading) vicariously while the horrific action unfolds around you.

Advertisements for the films, especially for the two-part Mockingjay conclusion, are very conscious of this framing. Fashion ads for the districts were published in magazines as promos for the film. Trailers aired in first-person-shooter. The marketing reinforced the panoptic feel of the series, and with stunning effect.

Mockjay Part 2 is due out November 1, and since I missed seeing Part 1 in theaters because it came out during my exams, I’m making sure to see this one in theaters. (And I’ll probably read the books before then, too!)

This post is by @parttimemonster of Part Time Monster and Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Part Time Monster!

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40 thoughts on “Blogging A to Z Day 9: The Hunger Games

  1. Mmmm….Hunger Games. I really loved Katniss as a character. She’s INCREDIBLY flawed, almost unlikeable sometimes, but she’s very sly, very smart, very Slytherin even, which means I identify pretty strongly with her.

    Thank you for reminding me that I have something to look forward to this winter! I saw Part One in theatres and was really bummed Part Two was so far on the horizon. 😦

    Liked by 4 people

  2. My daughter is a fan and they are entertaining movies. I just can’t get past the idea that parents would allow their children to be sacrificed in such a way. But the books weren’t written for adults so I can appreciate how teenagers enjoy them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A year or two ago I saw a picture of Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of a magazine, with some kind of “The Girl Who Was On Fire” title, all about her rise to stardom… Totally ignoring the larger message of the books and really all the things she’d said about it herself. It was kind of a traumatic realization of how much we are not even ironically the Capitol. We ARE the Capitol.

    Not to mention how every bit of media focuses on the love triangle that DOESN’T ACTUALLY HAPPEN LIKE THAT. Just like for the Hunger Games show it’s all about the romance, never mind the fact we’re talking about kids killing each other…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes—I think that’s really important, the way the love triangle changed. I found it really annoying, though I know why it was done that way.

      And I think I remember that magazine cover, too. It perplexed me.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I devoured The Hunger Games during my cross-country train trip two summers ago. My plan had been to write during that time, but I was moving from where I’d lived for the previous 5 years and needed some escapist reading instead… honestly hadn’t been expected to be swallowed by the story but I totally was!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I admit I held out on reading the first book until earlier this year because I was convinced this was a huge Battle Royale ripoff. I am not sure if I want to finish reading the rest of the series, may do so if they go on sale soon. Same with the movies, will watch if they are on TV or netflix but won’t pay for them outright.

    Liked by 5 people

    • It is and it isn’t, and Battle Royale is certainly not the only story of its type, either. The thing I would actually add is that while the first book is a lot like a single-story, kids-dropped-in-to-fight-each-other, the later two books combine to tell a much larger story, about the whole world that this is happening in, and taking it to a much more political place. By the third book, there isn’t even a “Hunger Games” happening that you’re following along with, but of course for movieland they have to keep the THE HUNGER GAMES naming on it with the all-important colon.

      Which I guess means… it’s a story which came into its own, and it’s pretty good 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • There are real similarities—but there are also major differences, too. As David says, the difference between single-story and series is there, as is the larger story that erupts into a war in the final book of HG.

        The post apocalypse elements of THG are also fairly important.

        There are also huge similarities between those texts and Lord of the Flies—and lots of other YA dystopic novels out there.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I thought the same thing before watching the first movie. But after watching up to Mockingjay pt 1 and reading to Catching Fire, I think the two works are different except for the “kids in arena” thing. Battle Royale is more Lord of the Psychotic Flies. The Hunger Games shows a lot more about the society.

      My favorite part of the books (and the society) is the cultish way the games are framed. The movies show them as reality shows gone too far, but in the books they seem more like a state religion.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hahaha! 😀 The Honest Trailer actually says it all and I agree with it. The good think about Katniss: proved a main female hero doesn’t have to be likable to have a personality. Bad thing about Katniss: Not nearly as strong a female character as people like to sell her.

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Liked by 3 people

    • Maybe it has to do with how we’re defining strong. She is a well-rounded character in many respects, including strengths, flaws, weaknesses, and all that. She is at times strong, in the fighting and winning sense. She is at times not strong, in the giving in to the system sense. I feel like those ups and downs add to her as a character, rather than detracting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I think it’s also important to think about what she’s been through. By the time we get to Catching Fire, Katniss has what I’d say is PTSD. And it certainly gets worse.

        That said, I also feel as though the films made some changes that detracted from character traits she has in the book.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post 🙂 I first read the books as well in a quick timeframe, on a plane flight. I actually read them before Holly, found out they were awesome, and recommended them to her. She then proceeded to read them all in one day as well on a sick day. It’s definitely a story that hooks you! And while it’s a quick and kind of easy read, it is by no means a simple one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, definitely not what I’d classify as simple. 🙂

      I think that at first I lumped them into the category with Twilight, which in retrospect was completely unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The number one way they relate to Twilight is through popularity level. The number two way is more forced: the “love triangle.” However, I think the Hunger Games sees a lot more people on “Team Katniss!”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, and it’s unfortunate that the love triangle got so much attention in the films. It’s there in the books, but it’s subtle—and it’s a lot more questionable whether Katniss likes Peeta or whether she just has to like him to stay alive.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. So, I just have to comment on your first A to Z post here. And drop this video, because it’s possibly the first “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” video I shared. I think I might have enough different videos that use this song archived now to give the song its own separate Playlist subcategory, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have not read the books, and saw only the first movie – which was awesome. This defiantly seems like a good set of books to pick up, when I get the time. 🙂 I really love my female protagonist who can kick some behind.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. I didn’t read the books, but I probably will one day. I watched the first movie kind of lost. We thought it was a little slow. Second one was better. Looking forward to the next ones. I think Jennifer Lawrence is turning out to be a great actress.

    Heather M. Gardner
    Co-host: Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part [http://hmgardner.blogspot.com/]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think Jennifer Lawrence has been a pleasant surprise. Of course, I think I first saw her in Winter’s Bone, and she was fantastic there. Really impressive talent.

      I can understand being lost by the first film, especially as a lot of the exposition from the book didn’t make it onto the film. It’s a confusing world, and it’s not really until the second film that you start to see more of that world.

      Like

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