This week I read the first book in a trilogy entitled The Hunger Games. Written by Suzanne Collins, it is known as a dystopian novel in the young adult genre.
Same as before, I first wrote a review. My summary of the plot was brief, simply because I wanted to focus more on the writing and the characters this time around. When compared to The Fault in Our Stars, the storytelling styles are different, of course. One is very contemplative and flowery while the other is lovely but direct. Much like the main character herself, Katniss Everdeen.
Next I explored the reactions to the book online, writing a post documenting this effort, same as before. I would like to think my conclusions were a bit more succinct this time, however. Maybe because I searched more for “what the audience had to say as opposed to the scenes and romance they chose to depict in their art or posts.”
Goodreads and YouTube were especially useful when searching for these particular topics. Readers are certainly not afraid to voice their opinions on these sites, and while there were many different ones, I noticed a consistent theme throughout all my explorations. And that was an enthusiasm for Katniss Everdeen. A reviewer summarizes what exactly is admirable about her, calling her “a fascinating, quick-witted, and innovative person thrown into a horrible situation.”
With this same focus, I looked at all the sites for the movie, as well. Once again and not unexpectedly, Katniss was the main source of enthusiasm.
Not only is this character strong, resourceful, and courageous, but she also makes sacrifices for family. The only reason she ended up as a contestant in the deadly games is because she volunteered to take her little sister’s place. This must be something that everyone can relate to, as we all care about our families. I also couldn’t miss the fact that nearly all the sites I visited had quotes with “a huge image of Katniss Everdeen attached to it. Not the other characters, settings, or moments. Just this fierce girl who the story centers around.” This was just a confirmation of the theory I was beginning to form.
However, there were also multiple comments on the world that Suzanne Collins has created. As stated in my own review, this “world is a much darker place than it is now, split into districts that each have a purpose to serve the Capitol. Coal, lumber, fish, etc. Every year the Hunger Games takes place, which is a fight to the death involving two members from each district.” This made me wonder if readers could easily see this becoming reality? Or perhaps they appreciate this unapologetic, grim depiction of war? It also caused readers to wonder whether or not they could kill a friend to stay alive, and what your life would be worth after that.
Next I delved into the author’s inspiration for the book. Interestingly, it came from watching both a reality television show and real war coverage at the same time. She also has personal experience in waiting for someone to come home from these difficult circumstances. This definitely made me think:
Nearly everyone knows what it is like to have someone they care about fighting a war… whether it’s overseas, internal, or personal. We all are thinking about survival. Especially young people, who might feel as though the smallest incidents are the end of everything. The Hunger Games is not an escape; it’s another battle to invest in, to root for, to win.
Yet even knowing this, I still felt my original conclusion was correct:
Suzanne Collins created a character that everyone can relate to and get behind. It’s different than the couple from The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, there is romance, but it’s a side plot rather than the main focus. Katniss Everdeen is about survival. She’s smart, strong, and determined. A majority of the audience reading this are teenagers. It’s a time of uncertainty and doubt, and here is someone that they can admire and try to be.
As humans, we are looking for someone to admire and model ourselves after. We want to be strong and indestructible, despite our flaws. To get back up again if we fall. Maybe it sounds overdramatic, but this is a very passionate audience and a powerful genre.
Which is why young adults aren’t the only ones reading it.