I'm always sceptical when it comes to hypes. So when The Hunger Games became a hype, I didn't feel like following the masses and go see the movie nor read the books. It is thanks to my husband that I did start to read Suzanne Collins's trilogy (he wants to see the movies and I want to read the books first). I'm glad about it: I finished the first book within two days and am looking forward to starting its sequel.
The Hunger Games is a dystopian book for young adults. In an unknown future, North America no longer exists. Instead, the land Panem has risen. Panem is reigned from The Capitol, a rich capital where people are wealthy and - probably as a consequence - rather blunt. Panem consists of 12 districts that have no contact to each other. The districts are poor and their citizens live in sometimes medieval conditions: some need to hunt for food. It used to be 13, but the 13th district has been defeated by the Capitol after the great rebellion of the districts against the Capitol. To remind the citizens of the districts of the Capitol's power or their own obedient position, so-called Hunger Games are being organized every year. In these games, a boy and a girl for each district are sent to a huge arena to compete against each other in a cruel battle: only one of them can return home alive.
This book follows Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old that joins the Games in her little sister's place. What follows is an exciting description of her struggles against thirst, hunger and her competitors, as well as actions conveyed by the Gamemakers. Those are people from the Capitol who design the Hunger Games and influence them in order to make them as spectacular as possible for the people who follow them in TV. Because that's what happens: everything that happens in the arena is recorded by numerous cameras and broadcasted in television. For the citizens of the Capitol, it is just entertainment, whereas the districts pray or cry for the children that are captured inside the arena.
The book is a real page turner, and even though one knows upfront that Katniss will survive, it remains exciting. The idea of the state's absolute control fascinates me, because it's frightening close to truth. Aren't we controlled by those who have the money? Isn't Big Brother watching every step we take?
Katniss and Peeta survived the Hunger Games together. But because Katniss signaled to rather die together than to bow under the Capitol’s rules, she became the face of the revolution – albeit involuntarily. President Snow himself is aware of the danger and threatens Katniss – if she doesn’t try her very best to convince the people in the districts that her action was only because of love for Peeta instead of rebellious, he will kill her family. But the agitation in the districts already is there – more and more people dare to stand up against the Capitol.
And so Snow has a new plan: for the 75th Hunger Games, the tributes will be chosen from the pool of winners. That means: Katniss has to go into the Arena again.
What follows is another fight against the game maker’s tricks and the other tributes. Instead of being alone most of the time, Katniss and Peeta now fight together with a couple of other tributes.
The book is exciting, but somehow it wasn’t as convincing as the first book. Somehow this time in the Arena was boring to me, predictable, dull, not engrossing enough. I think this is an example of a sequel that just builds up the story to a point where a grand finale can start. I had hoped to read more about the rebellions in the districts, but that’s already difficult because of the point of view – the reader learns everything through Katniss’s eyes. Nevertheless, it was quite entertaining and it DID make me want to continue to the third and final book.
Thanks to a smart yet dangerous game of Haymitch, a couple of winners from other districts and the new head of the game makers, Plutarch Heavensbee, Katniss is saved from the Arena once more. Peeta couldn’t be saved, however, and he is now in the hands of President Snow.
District 12 was bombed after Katniss had destroyed the power field around the Arena. Only a handful of people – including Katniss’s family and Gale, could escape to District 13. Just like in the old times, District 13 is now the basis of the rebellion. And the rebels, led by President Alma Coin, now want Katniss to act actively in their propaganda and be their “Mockingjay”. Once again, Katniss has to convince people for a certain case, even if she herself just wants her family and loved ones to be safe. She feels deep hatred for President Snow, but mainly because he tortures Peeta. Gale, however, wants war.
I really liked this book. I think it’s great how it is empathized how much propaganda can cause. I love how Collins shows there is no “good” and “bad” side in a conflict. And I enjoyed the personal struggles Katniss has while being the Mockingjay for a war she doesn’t support in her heart. I was surprised that not everyone survived whom one wanted to survive. And I think the epilogue was very realistic.
Brilliant, nervewrecking finale of the Hunger Games trilogy.