When I was in college, I got one of my friends to sign up for Goodreads with me and the two of us decided we were going to start our own Young Adult Book Club. We went to Target and bought the first three books in The Hunger Games series when they were on sale and then as soon as we finished working on our papers and various assignments, we read.
I stayed up all night reading THE HUNGER GAMES, as well as its sequel, CATCHING FIRE. It was unlike anything I had ever read before, with a really enticing battle royal format featuring a strong female heroine, a forbidden romance, and some surprisingly mature themes for a book aimed at the younger set. Some of the scenes in this book-- Peeta telling Katniss on the rooftop that he doesn't want the Games to change who he is, Katniss singing to Rue, the nightlock berries-- haunted me for years. I loved it so much when I read it in my early twenties that I was afraid to pick it up again for fear that I wouldn't like it.
If anything, I enjoyed it even more the second time around. There were the scenes I remembered, but I couldn't believe how many scenes I forgot. Katniss is such a great heroine. She's strong and enterprising and selfish in a way that not a lot of heroines are allowed to be. Survival is always first and foremost in her mind, which makes sense, since romance is hardly something that should be clouding up her head when she needs to be fighting for her very life.
I loved the scenes in the woods and how they paralleled the hunting scenes in the beginning of the novel. I loved how horrified Katniss is by the lavish displays of excess in the Capitol and how the only thing that really humbles her in a positive way is the food (holla). I thought it was interesting that District 12 appears to be in the South (Appalachians) and the Capitol is in the West (Rockies), like the author is suggesting that fucking Colorado or Utah would be the bastion of all this wealth and political power and not someplace like Washington D.C. or California. It made me realize how desperately I crave a book about the very first Hunger Games and the rebellions leading up to it, because I am so curious to see how the disparity and power ended up being apportioned out this way.
THE HUNGER GAMES ended up causing a HUGE craze in dystopian young adult novels. For a while, it seemed like authors were in constant competition to see who could destroy the world in the most creative ways. Would it be with drought? Gravitational disruption brought on by the moon? Economical poverty that could only be resolved with Bachelorette competitions? Vampires? Or would it be by creating a caste system via one-dimensional Myers-Briggs tests? *COUGH* THE HUNGER GAMES became huge enough that I think it was actually Harry Potter for many millennial and gen-Zers. Everyone has a magical world that ended up capturing their imagination when they were young, and while I was out of the age gate with this one, it still enthralled me.
I was saying in a status update that too many authors try to milk their franchises dry, but in the case of The Hunger Games franchise, I would gladly read books about every single game. There are so many hints at previous games in this books and I would love to read them all, whether it's Haymitch's book, a prequel about the rebellions, or the Russian winter-esque arena that ended up killing most of the combatants with frostbite. Honestly, if Collins writes it and it's about this world, I'd read it. If she writes it, and it isn't about this world, I'd read it but I don't envy the woman that task, because you KNOW anything she writes is going to be immediately compared to Hunger Games.
I'm not sure what else to say. This book still gave me all the feels and whether it was watching Katniss twirl in the dress on fire, sing a beloved friend to sleep, have her first kiss, or shoot some literal backstabbing bastard in the heart, I was with Katniss Everdeen every step of the way. This is such a perfect, well-done book and I'm happy to say it holds up just as well as the first time I read it.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
5 out of 5 stars
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