I recently spent a day reading The Hunger Games.
I know, it’s been on my to-be-read list for years. I’m late to the party. So what else is new?
But that’s not the important part. The important part is that I couldn’t put it down. Why?
I thought this book did two things exceptionally well. The first was competition, and this drives the first half of the book. It’s interesting to see the contestants and their strategies. I wanted to know how they were going to try to win. The manipulations of the audience, how they were trying to present themselves, which alliances were made and broken–these were all fascinating.
The second thing, which primarily came out to in the second half of the book, was emotional conflict. For one, getting to catch glimpses of some of the contestants as people. I don’t know about everyone else, but especially by the end, I was sad to see most of these characters go.
Also, having our point of view character see the rest of the contenders as people, and experience doubts. Having her cope with having to be unsure of her emotions, because half of what she does is putting on a show. After all, Katniss is the one who’s aware of the larger implications around her, and the difficulty she has telling apart what she has to do from what she wants to do is striking.
All in all, a great read. And of course, there were the Ancient Roman names! The characters from the Capitol–Cinna, Octavia, Caesar, Flavius. Also Cato, though he wasn’t from the Capitol. And then the Capitol itself, a word evoking the Capitoline Hill in Rome. (Other government-related words in America associated with Ancient Rome include ‘Senate’ and ‘republic’.)
I haven’t seen the movies yet, though. Anyone know how they measure up?