Katniss Everdeen: Girl on Fire
Title: The Hunger Games (book one)
Series: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Published: Sept 14th, 2008 by Scholastic Press
Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
Meet Katniss Everdeen, arguably the most amazing young female character to ever grace the books I’ve read (note the emphasis on *books I read.*) Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger are the other two kick ass young women to live in one of my many fave fictional universes.
I’m going to start off by telling you how hard this book is going to hit you in the feels. Like, really hard, dude. You’ve most likely heard of the now famous phrases, “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE” and, “May the odds be EVER in your favor.” Once you read this book–as you should–you’ll realize the impact those words have on the twelve districts of Panem.
Whelp, they’re well known for a reason. Katniss Everdeen doesn’t give it’s second thought when she yells the former, saving her twelve-year-old sister from certain death. She knew there was only a small chance in hell that she would come out of the Hunger Games–-a fight to the death among minors who are chosen as tributes-–but she does it out of love. Her action reminded me of Harry Potter, where love is such an important part of his life and the lives of those around him. (Anything that reminds me of Harry Potter is a good book.)
The Games are absolutely terrifying. Every year two kids from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death. If I didn’t love this series I may have thought the name was silly. Granted, its perfectly appropriate for the nature of the Games but it seems odd that the Capitol, where the most privileged live, would advertise it as the “Hunger Games.”
President Snow insists that the Games are for the good of the districts; it reminds them that the Capitol is the bomb while the districts are, well, the bombed. The Capitol make it out to be a wonderful event, which is true of peeps from the capital. To them its an entertaining reality show. They hoot and holler for their favorite candidate’s, take bets and give gifts to their favorite players to give them a better chance at winning. Yet they see nothing barbaric about their own actions and reactions to the game, let alone the games themselves. For the people of the Capitol, it is fun, a cause for celebration, but to the districts it’s a death sentence for their parents, siblings, friends and the districts as a whole.
Katniss is so, so strong. She’s strong in a way I’ll never be. She swallows her fear when she volunteers for the Hunger Games in her sister’s place. It could be argued that there was no fear to begin with. On instinct she protects her sister, not having a second thought about it. I’d love to think that I would do the same for my sister, but I hope to never find that out. Her love for her sister is what keeps her alive and kicking (shooting?) throughout the Games.
A part of me, as I was reading, wondered what it would be like to live in this dystopian society. I hope to never find out. Even though it’s not a realistic fear, it still scared me as I read it. The horror that those kids live through leave lasting damage. This is a somewhat weird thing to say: She experienced nightmares, horrendous ones that would leave her screaming in her bed until Peeta rushed in to comfort her. This is a strange way to put it, but I liked that she had PTSD after the Games. Not because she deserved it or anything of the sort, but because that’s what happens to “real” (non-fictional) characters. Suzanne Collins doesn’t sugar coat any of this; the lasting harm that the surviving young people (or, as the district would call them, “winners”) is so incredibly real. I could feel their fear; I could see the nightmares that will never leave them.
BOOK TALK (WITH SPOILERS):
Omg OMG Katniss is BOSS at the whole staying alive thing throughout the games, NBD or anything. Once again, love and all that jazz. I nearly died (much like the other tributes) when Katniss kissed Peeta the first time, solidifying their “love” for each other, not realizing what that kiss would mean. The kiss, in is own, strange way, set her future in stone. That woman has steel ovaries. I love triangles, as strange as that may sound (you may be one of the peeps who can’t stand them). There’s just something about men and women fighting for the main characters’ love that peaks my interest. I get to ship the character(s) of my choice. In that sense I get to choose how I read the story. Even though there is a love triangle its not what charged the story, it was Katniss and her bravery and love that made this book flippin’ amazing. From this first book I already knew that Peeta had her love, even if she didn’t know that herself.
The bombshell Peeta dropped on the nation was a fudging stroke of genius. Unfortunately, it is what sparks a revolution (which is dangerous to all) and puts her in the direct line of fire. While the audience absolutely LOVED Peeta’s bombshell, where he confesses his love for her, President Snow, the ruler of the Capitol and districts, sees it for what it threatens to become–-a rebellion against the capitol.
There is virtually no foreshadowing from the first book, The Hunger Games, to the second book, Catching Fire, but that worked for the series. She didn’t leave us with anything to figure out ourselves because there wasn’t enough to go off of, which was a tad bit disappointing. I like cliffhangers, okay? That may be the one con in this book. Oh, and then there’s the huge archery business. I used to be am archer, Olympic style, unlike Katniss who shoots bareback, but still, being able to relate with her on that was super-duper awesome.
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