May the odds be ever in your favor because we are about to cover an entire trilogy filled with action, a love triangle, and an imaginary dystopian world-yes, I volunteer as tribute to begin this discussion of The Hunger Games! I read all three of these books in three days, and could barely put each one down for eating and bathroom breaks. I decided to read them all again, accompanied by their film adaptation counterparts, in order to refresh my memory for this post and re-live my fantasy to be as badass as Katniss Everdeen.
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure
Published: 2008, 2009, 2010
Rating: Hunger Games 5/5, Catching Fire 5/5, Mockingjay 4.5/5
Summary: We begin in Panem, a dystopian, post-apocalyptic North America. Panem is composed of 12 districts and is run by the Capitol. The Hunger Games are an annual, fight-to-the-death, televised event where one boy and one girl from each district ages 12-18 are randomly selected to participate. They were created in response to the rebellion 74 years prior to where we begin,which resulted in the destruction of District 13. The book is from the perspective of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in District 12.
The Hunger Games: When we are introduced to Katniss as our narrator, we learn that she is a resident of the poor, coal-mining District 12. She acts as the caretaker for her mom and younger sister, Prim after the death of their father in a coal-mining accident. The story begins on the day of the reaping, where the new tributes for the 74th Hunger Games will be selected. When Katniss’s sister gets randomly selected as tribute, Katniss immediately volunteers herself in Prim’s place. She is accompanied by male tribute Peeta Mellark who is a former classmate of Katniss whose family owns a bakery. They begin the pre-Hunger Games activities, which include a parade, training, an interview, and ranking based on skills. Katniss meets her mentor, alcoholic previous-winner, Haymitch Abernathy, as well as her stylist, Cinna, and Capitol supervisor, the over-decorated and always peppy Effie Trinket. During Peeta’s interview, he reveals that he has forever been in love with Katniss, but plays it off to her as a strategy to make them likeable and therefore more likely to receive help from sponsors. Before entering the games, Cinna pins Katniss’s Mockinjay pin that her friend Madge gave to her on her jacket to make her feel protected and at ease. Half the tributes die on the first day of the games, but Katniss is able to use her survival skills and hunting expertise to stay alive. Peeta appears to have created an alliance with the “career” tributes but in reality only aligned with them to keep Katniss safe since she has become a target due to her high rank. Katniss befriends Rue, a young girl from District 11 who reminds her of her younger sister. When Rue is killed Katniss sings to her and surrounds her with flowers which is a symbol of her humanity and is respected and acknowledged by the audience. When her and Peeta are the last two tributes standing, neither one can kill the other. They are about to eat poisonous berries when the announcer yells and them to stop and announces them both as winners. When they get home, Haymitch talks to Katniss and tells her that their threat to kill themselves is being viewed as a sign of rebellion, and uprisings are beginning in the districts.
Catching Fire: After winning the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta are getting ready to begin their Victory Tour visiting the other districts. Before they leave, President Snow pays Katniss a visit and tells her that her stunt in the games has started a series of uprisings, and it is her job to suppress those uprisings and say they were a result of being crazy in love with Peeta, or else. Unfortunately, Katniss is not successful, and the uprisings and talk of rebellion continue to worsen. When she asks her best friend and semi-love interest, Gale, to run away with her, he says no because he wants to be a part of any rebellion that may occur. President Snow cracks down on security and sends in violent and strict peacekeeprs to discipline the districts, and unfortunately, Gale is the first victim of a whipping which Katniss steps in front of in another sign of rebellion. It is time for the 75th Hunger Games, also known as a Quarter Quell where a twist is usually put on the games to make them more exciting. For this years games, the tributes will be selected from the pool of previous winners, guaranteeing that Katniss will go back into the games since she is the only female victor in District 12. Peeta volunteers and the two go through the same pre-game activities at the Capitol. In the interview portion, all the contestants show their disdain for the games, and Katniss wears a dress that burns and turns into a mockinjay, the rebellion symbol, when she twirls. As she is being lifted up into the games, Cinna is killed in front of Katniss. When she enters the arena she finds out that Haymitch had made alliances for her with Finnick Odair, Johanna Mason, Beetie and his wife, but Katniss does not fully trust any of them. They discover that the arena works like a clock, and different dangers happen every hour in different section of the arena. They make a plan to electrocute the other remaining tributes using a wire Beetie designed and the tieing it to the lightning tree. Johanna attacks Katniss but is really taking out her tracking device, and distracts the other tributes from finding Katniss. Katniss returns to the tree frantically to try and find Peeta and finds Beetie knocked unconscious and the coil laying by the tree with lightning about to strike. When she sees Finnick she is about to shoot him with her arrow before he says “remember who the real enemy is.” It is then that she shoots the arrow with the wire into the sky when the lightning strikes, and the forcefield begins to crumble down as a plane comes and lifts her out of the arena. She wakes up to find gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee and Haymitch who tell her that this was the plan all along and that this is the rebellion and she is the Mockinjay. When she freaks out, she is sedated and wakes up with Gale next to her who tells her that District 12 has been destroyed and they are in District 13.
Mockingjay: I don’t wanna give away too much about this book because it is the conclusion of the series, but essentially it is the propaganda associated with the uprising and Katniss as the Mockingjay. Those who escaped from District 12 along with the saved tributes are living in the underground District 13 run by President Coin. Peeta and Johanna have been captured by the Capitol, and are being tortured and used as tools for contradictory propaganda to the uprising.
Thoughts: If I haven’t already made it obvious, I LOVEEEEE the Hunger Games trilogy. I think the concept is unique, and was the start of a series of post-apocolyptic series that followed. It is easy to root for Katniss as the heroine, and I found myself inspired and supporting her as the Mockingjay. She is just very real, and experiences real conflicts of self. Although there is a slight love triangle present, it is not the sole focus of the story. There are so many other political and social focal points at play that paint a creative but honest depiction of war.
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
“District 12: Where you can starve to death in safety.”
“I always channel my emotions into my work. That way, I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”
“Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”
“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”
Recommendations: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant