I don’t as a rule read the book after seeing the film. But this was an exception to that rule, I even watched the movie for a second time (on imovies.ge) , when I was half way through the book. Two other books I remember reading after the film are Fight Club and Mona Lisa, the former is one of my favourite films the latter was a film tie-in, the book being written after the film.
The Hunger Games is one of those teen-reads that was a best selling phenomenon, like Twilight, Harry Potter and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It is the sort of book I’d have loved as a teen, it reminds me of Stephen King’s book “The Long Walk” (which I did read as a teen). In both dystopian novels we have a sixteen year old contestant pitted against other teenagers, where only one is destined to survive. Katniss Everdeen the protagonist of The Hunger Games also reminds me of the Rambo character created by David Morrell in First Blood. She has the survival skills necessary to survive in a scenario, where everyone is against her.
The story of The Hunger Games is focused on Katniss Everdeen, who has volunteered to represent her District, District 12 in “The Hunger Games”, a televised gladiatorial reality show where 24 teenagers are pitted in an arena against each other, the games allow for only one surviving winner.
The book has three parts “The Tributes”, “The Games” and “The Victor”. The first part explains how the 24 tributes (the teen sacrificial lambs, two from each district) are selected from their districts by lottery. Katniss is different in that she volunteers, when her 12 year old sister is chosen at the Reaping. District 12 is a poor mining district in what was the Appalachians, her father died in a mining explosion and her mother and sister eek out a meagre existence supported by Katniss’ hunting prowess and Prim’s goat..
Before the games the contestants have their team of stylists and mentors to prepare them for the bloodbath ahead. District 12’s mentor is the drunk Haymitch, on the train Haymitch staggers in while Effie, Katniss and Peeta are watching a recap of the Reaping, throws up, and falls into his own vomit. Katniss and Peeta help him back to his room. This is omitted in the film, none of the vomit in the book makes it to the film.
The games themselves begin with a Darwinian bloodbath as tributes run for the weapons and supplies laid out for them, on Haymitch’s advice Katniss runs to the woods, despite the temptation to go for the bow and quiver of arrows on display. The initial bloodbath halves the number of contestants like a big pile up at the start of a grand prix. The rest of the games is ablut the more gradual elimination of the survivors. Unlike First Blood or the Long Walk there is a love interest in the Hunger Games. Katniss, the girl who has never been kissed is paired with Peeta, the boy from her district, the baker’s son. She is unsure whether she can trust him and also fears she may have to kill him (or be killed by him) at some stage. There is also Gale, a boy back home who she has a strong attraction to.
The book is very readable, told in the first person by Katniss.
My rating is 4 out of 5, when I started the book it was hovering around 3 out of 5, but it is a page-turner, if I were a teen reading it I might have given it 5 out of 5, but since my teens I have read widely including Kafka, Faulkner, Harper Lee, Gogol and many others and now as I pass 50, the book is too simplistic for a higher score., the second book of the trilogy, “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins is the best in my opinion, the final book Mockingjay is also worth reading.
Read April 2015.