My rant on The Hunger Games

Here be
This post does not go into nitty-gritty details, but
there are some plot spoilers for the trilogy of
‘Hunger Games’ books and also some for the ‘Twilight’
series of books that some readers might prefer to avoid.

You have been warned.

Guest Author: fuckpoliteness, who lives in Sydney and wants the world to make more sense.

I’m inclined to set down my thoughts on The Hunger Games. First, I should clarify that I’ve read the three books, but I haven’t seen the movie. Second I should say that I’m no literature critic – I was vaguely aware that it was not a book where I fell in love with the language, but rather that the plot propelled me through to the end. I’m not arguing for where it should stand in some Great Ranking of the Best Books of All Time. I’m interested in addressing it as an instance of popular culture that again has kids tearing through books, hungry for more, at the controversy and ‘moral panic’ that it seems to be creating, and in looking at the elements of what, for me, made it something out of the league of the ‘Twilights’ of the world.

I will say that I had to push through Twilight as if walking through molasses. I felt vaguely nauseated by the prose, I felt frustrated by the slow pace, the action only picking up in the last chapters, I hated a lot – I hated the ‘romance’, I hated the guilt, I hated the incessant ‘I’m so helpless and hopeless’, I hated the revolting pregnancy and birth, and I hated the imprinting. While much of this contributed to my sense that these were ‘bad books’, it’s also worth expanding out into the critique of the representations of gender, love, sex, commitment and politics or ethics. It was also not like reading The Da Vinci Code where I was happy to try to stick to the plotline but kept feeling as though his descriptive language was jarringly striking me as awful, awful, awful. The prose is quite stripped back, quite sparse, and is arguably mediochre, but I just did not care. For one thing that terseness fitted the voice of the character to my mind, but more importantly, I was driven on, compelled by the fate of Katniss, her family, the others from District 12 – what would happen to them, what would she be forced to do, would she be able to live with it?

Likewise, I’m sure it is possible to critique the ways in which a books’ ‘world’ is set up and criticised. It at times felt a bit simplistic in the way ‘evil’ was represented etc. But at the same time I thought it did a much better job than, say, the Harry Potter novels of examining motivation, perspective, politics, gender, love, commitment and ethics. As for the Twilight series, The Hunger Games simply blew it out of the water.

Here we have a female protagonist – much as I love Harry Potter, the frequent ‘Harry and Ron roll their eyes about Hermione’s girlish perspective’ (never mind that Harry and Ron were frequently idiots and Hermione was much more frequently able to see the reality of the situation) grated my cheese. Harry was the protagonist, Ron was the favoured side-kick, Hermione was valued to some extent, but was marginalised and/or mocked quite a bit. And let’s talk about Mrs Weasley, Ginny, Fleur and Tonks in terms of marginalisation of women, and Mrs Weasley and Ginny in particular for being written as representing women as irrational, jealous, petty. Again – hands in the air. I love the series, I read them again and again, I like Ginny etc…but the tendency to set the female characters up to laugh at their silly female ways shat me to tears.

In this book it was all about Katniss. Katniss dealing with her fathers death, and her mothers’ withdrawal. Katniss blaming her mother, but grappling with the fact that maybe she’d judged her too harshly. Katniss trying to protect her little sister. Katniss the family provider. Katniss the hunter, finding skills that sustained so many, that she enjoyed, that she was good at. Not supernaturally good like Buffy, not ‘gifted’ from on high, but skilled though a combination of talent and practice. Katniss, friend of Gale, Gale criticising the Capitol in the woods, her only reprieve from political control. Katniss, aware that there might be ‘something else’ between her and Gale, but too busy working and surviving to bother ‘working it out’. Katniss, suddenly in danger. Katniss reacting in ways that surprise her. Katniss defiant, Katniss scared, Katniss surviving, Katniss making friends through alliances, Katniss grieving those she was supposed to fight and kill. Katniss negotiating being forced to ‘sex it up’, Katniss negotiating being told to ‘play the relationship angle’, Katniss working out that there might be more than ‘play’ now, but again, being too busy to have the time, much less the capacity to ‘work it out’. Katniss finally rebelling. Katniss being caught back up, again and again. Katniss surviving, just hanging on.

For once (in terms of the Big New Thing) we had a female protagonist who was a fully fleshed out character – she had a past, she had emotions, she had will, she had strength, she had vulnerabilities, reactions she couldn’t explain, she was thrown back on her own resources and she didn’t get saved by supernatural skills thrust upon her, or by the ‘hero’ (characters saved each other). For once we had a girl who had boys in her life that she liked, and maybe loved, but did not get corralled into ‘This person is the love of my life, amen’. She felt love for both of them, she had no idea what was happening – she reacted to where she was, what was happening. She was coopted back into other peoples’ power plays again and again, and she fought hard for a solution she could in some way live with.

The recent scaremongering over the levels of violence in the book surprised me. The violence was disturbing – but to my mind it was not ever presented in the way that leads to a desensitisation, except possibly in the final parts of the last book in which things are happening so quickly it’s hard to keep track. To my mind the entire point of the book was a critique of violence, control, and the worst aspects of capitalism and consumer culture – some living lives of luxury while those who produced their goods starved and worked under oppressive conditions with little freedom, entertainment based on exploitation, a ridiculous fixation on appearances at all costs, the corruption of power, the politics of control. It’s to be applauded, to my way of thinking, that a book would deliberately provoke teenaged examination of these issues – you simply cannot read The Hunger Games without both being appalled at what happens in Katniss’ world and bringing it back to the world we live in – it seems just an extreme version of our own world.

The final tipping point for me was a recent review in the Sydney Morning Herald which claimed that: the books perverted heroic rebellion, that survival ‘justified’ killing, that characters are ‘desensitised to sexualisation’, there was ‘no love’ in The Hunger Games, only ‘selfish mockery’, that ‘feelings replace right and wrong’, and an allegation that the book cannot critique the sensationalism of violence when it ‘does the same itself’. Like the criticisms of Harry Potter for ‘making children want to be wizards’ it seemed impossible to come out of these books with this simplistic a view of them unless you went in to reading them determined to find these issues.

No, Katniss is not some ‘uncomplicated hero’. She has grown up restricted and controlled, she’s seen death and deprivation, and she survives – she is thrown in to extraordinarily gruesome and violent scenarios and has to ‘do the best she can’. The idea that she’d be a better hero if she’d sat passively in protest in the middle of the arena and died swiftly is ludicrous – how can you explore power in the ways The Hunger Games do if you simply protest and get shot in the face in the first chapter? Beyond that somewhat facetious point, the point of the whole series, it seemed to me, was how you grapple with the things you need to do, how you cope with the guilt of being implicated, how you manage to find a way through, to survive, let alone how on earth you can rebel when power is already always one step ahead of you ready to coopt any rebellion you manage for its own purposes. Katniss is not represented as purely virtuous, as the simple ‘Harry’-style ‘good’ to the Capitol’s ‘Voldemort’-style evil. The book tries to explore the difference in perspectives of the citizens of Panem in general and the citizens of the Capitol. Whether it always manages what it aims for, the series, to me is a commendable attempt to examine manifestations of power, control, violence and oppression, and the fact that it is impossible in any world to simply be outside and ‘above’ the ugly aspects of your society.

Nor do I think it ever ‘justified’ killing – again the whole series involves the examination of how Katniss will cope with what she will need to do, the different approaches of Katniss, Peeta and Gale, the understandable shift in Gale’s attitudes, but the exploration of where a hardened attitude of vengeance leads, and an examination of various approaches to trying to maintain an idea of ‘self’ when you are forced into situations in which you do the unthinkable – vast tracts are devoted to anguished self examination, and Katniss never finds herself ‘blameless’, in fact she reckons on a high culpability for the body count, even of those she tried to save.

The characters explicitly address their revolt at being ‘sexed up’ to murder each other. Katniss repeatedly talks about her preference to leave her own body alone, her hatred for the plucking and soaking and sprucing. The exploitation of appearance, bodies and sexuality is explicitly addressed, particularly in the later books – I’m not sure how much more explicitly the books could have objected to it.

The claim that there is ‘no love’ is frankly laughable – did the author read the same book? Where Katniss wakes screaming for her father, where she volunteers to take her sister’s place, where she is gripped with fear for and grief over characters she didn’t know that well, where she loves and makes sacrifices for Peeta and Gale, as well as for many less central characters? Katniss explicitly addresses the horrors of being pushed into a ‘fake relationship’ for gain, and the confusion of actually caring for that person. There are long passages again addressing her confusion about these two boys in her life, how central they both are, how she loves each of them, but is unable to define exactly ‘how’, how she might have felt about them had her life been her own, and the fact that her emotions have been taken and manipulated again and again for the entertainment of others. Katniss, quite frankly is a character full of love but who has far more pressing things on her mind for most of the book – but her love, her concern, her sense of loss, her desire to protect are all through the series.

As for whether feelings replace right and wrong, I don’t think that they do in the series, but I think you have someone trying to make sense of just how wrong things are when she’s a child who has nearly starved to death, then been the family provider, and then has been thrown into a situation where she’s being constantly hunted – I don’t think Katniss has had much time for, assistance with, or access to, great works of philosophy on the concepts of right and wrong – perhaps the author would have preferred it had Katniss stopped to take lessons from the bible while being hunted. Lord knows that book has no violence, weird sex or horror.

Finally, there may be some element of truth to the issue with violence – by the end of the series you’ve read through so much horror and the final stages do seem a little ridiculous – I wasn’t really able to keep track of the losses through the tunnels and I felt that some of the deaths were for a final shock value. I did think at the same time that it would have been unrealistic to have only one or two losses of central characters, such as in Buffy, and I did think that right to the end this pulled through the themes of power, corruption, what you’ll do if you’re pushed to it in order to survive, the ruthlessness of gaining control, and Katniss’s opposition to violence. Not in an uncomplicated way – she’s not allowed to be someone with ‘clean hands’ – she kills to survive, but she keeps herself accountable, and she does what she needs to do to ensure as best she can that the cycle of horror stops. Does the series use violence as entertainment? It’s arguable – to my mind it uses violence to make a point about violence, and there’s no doubt that the books were gripping. But I don’t see that as necessarily exploiting violence for entertainment purposes and then simplistically criticising the same. I think it’s okay to represent a world where violent control is made constant and explicit, and to critique that and to engage with how you can remain yourself while trying to survive in that world without being told you are doing exactly what you are critiquing.

No, I don’t think the series is without fault, nor can it comprehensively cover all of the most subtle contemplations of power, politics, ethics and existence. But I do think that it stands as a series which encourages readers to engage with a critique of the Capitol, of a politics of control and oppression, of an unequal distribution of wealth, of entertainment relying on the distress of others, on ridiculous and perverse obsessions with appearance and bizarre grooming standards, and I do think it actively encourages the reader to engage with extending those criticisms to society now. We’re represented in the book as the selfish, greedy, destructive forerunners to the Capitol. I think that it’s a good critique of the extremes of capitalism, of ‘entertainment’, and I think it offers a strong female character without any of the usual ‘I met my one true love and now I am his forever’ bullshit. I think it encourages young adults to read and to think. I’m happy to listen to critiques of the series that actually engage with what is at stake in the series, just not a ridiculously simplistic critique based on misrepresenting the very point of the series.

Both my son and my stepdaughter have read the series and each of them was gripped to the end. Both of them have talked to me about what they like, what they think of the politics. Neither of them appear to have been ‘desensitized’ to the violence, or to have decided that violence is fantastic and sexualisation is fun. They are both able to enjoy a series, to critically engage with it, and to discuss it on its merits, something that seems to have been beyond the author of the critique published in the Sydney Morning Herald. By all means take aim with whatever problems you find in the text, but don’t misrepresent the themes and content to fit the simplistic critique you want to make. Anyway – that was my rant on The Hunger Games – I’d love to hear yours.

Categories: arts & entertainment, crisis, ethics & philosophy, relationships, violence

Tags: , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Great analysis, FP. We have found that there is a huge amount to talk about in the books, from political control, to what people are forced to do in order to survive, to consumerism, to the sheer joy of having a female main character who we can believe in because she’s not perfect, but she is wonderful.
    Also, great to hear from you again. I hope all is going well for you and yours.

  2. Ta Deborah. All is well. Busy, busy – last year of uni, lots of work and the whole ‘commuting’ thing means that I read here but comment very infrequently. Enjoying being an official ‘step Mum’ and getting used to the whole setting up a house thing and am very absorbed in this years’ subjects.
    Yes – I did find it a total delight to have a female main character who was fully human in her own right and not a plot device or a foil for others – and I loved her. I think I am very character driven in my reading and I loved her when she was right and I loved her when she was wrong. I loved Harry as well but I would get so frustrated that he was never written to cry as if it would have weakened him somehow. I loved that Katniss was allowed scenes to be overwhelmed and let it out instead of continuing to turn it inwards but also allowed to be strong, brash, rash, vocal, impulsive, brave, protective and funny. It’s been a great pleasure to read the books, then pass them on to each of the kids in turn and to hear them critiquing both the book and the SMH article I linked to in the post.
    Makes me so proud and pleased that the kids have the space to speak their minds, and read avidly, and can critically engage on their own terms. It’s also just really, really nice to be genuinely enjoying something that they both genuinely enjoy, and to have that to discuss and babble over. I could barely wait til each of them had finished to ask their opinions on characters, plot developments and what they thought about various twists or criticisms. Fun.

  3. *hurriedly scrolls to bottom of page*
    I haven’t read nor seen, yet, but it’s on the list and I am totally bookmarking this rant for future non-spoilery perusal!

  4. I haven’t read THG, but I’m guessing that SMH writer hasn’t read either of these:
    Silence is the problem or Best kids books written in blood.

  5. Fuckpoliteness! I miss your blog so it’s lovely to see your writing here 🙂 I like your piece. I haven’t read the books or seen the movie because it sounds too violent for me to get through, but I appreciate being able to read a good analysis.

  6. Re: feelings replacing “right” and “wrong”; without reading the article you’ve cited, I think a case could be made there. But I think that point then feeds back to the greater discussion the trilogy has going on, about how the people not in power are coerced and compromised by the system they are a part of. The ability to objectively think about ‘right and wrong’ is something that I think comes with not having to think about basic survival (you know, stuff like ‘how do my loved ones and I get to tomorrow/next week on the basic shelter-food-not being stabbed to death?’ scale). I have been considering that point a lot lately, with the changes in my life and the impacts they’re having on my family’s life and way of living. We’re by no means at the stabby end of things, but with friends who rave and recommend high-end organic and environmentally friendly services (all at premium costs, of course) I am constantly having my attention drawn to the compromises we currently make. But then, I am also aware of our high level of comfort and general lifestyle, and not making choices about public transport vs basic foodstuffs. I think Katnis is fairly explicitly positioned at the ‘enough to eat/not being stabbed’ end of things so I don’t see the feelings looming more important in the story as a failing at all.

  7. I just wanted to thank you for this wonderful critique. I’ve seen so many critiques about this series that just totally missed the point, and it is refreshing to see someone actually talk about it as it is.
    One of the things that I absolutely loved about these books is that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ aren’t exactly purely defined. I guess that’s the underlying argument for the ‘good and evil replaced by feelings’ thing, but I actually really think that’s a good thing. We know that the Capitol is evil, but we aren’t entirely convinced that the rebels are that much better. For example, [spoiler] we’re pretty much convinced that the rebels kill Katniss’s sister (along with all the other medics and the kids) at the end in order to close the battle more rapidly. [/spoiler] And in the meantime, we come to understand that the people of the Capitol really aren’t necessarily evil…they’re just privileged. They can enjoy the Hunger Games because they have no emotional stock in it because it’s just a game for them. Sounds awfully like some other ways privilege allows those in power to forget the humanity of those they rule. Which doesn’t neglect the evil of the games or say that these people are perfectly fine for cheering for kids to kill each other, but does recognize that things are not always perfectly clear cut. And if things are not always perfectly clear cut, how an individual can manage to live in that environment with some semblance of an ethical code.
    Also, I think that it is great to see young adults engaging with reading like this. I would have loved to have a series like this when I was younger. I made do, and there is a lot of YA fiction out there with female protagonists, but the depth of Katniss’s character is just awesome.

  8. “she does what she needs to do to ensure as best she can that the cycle of horror stops”
    That. I haven’t seen anybody else addressing it, and it seems to me like the central point. I haven’t seen the movie, read the books, or read the SMH piece. So clean slate here. But I’ve been avoiding the whole damn thing because I’m so irritated by it. It’s a story about poor people fighting for scraps at the behest of rich people, in other words not fiction at all as far as I can see. And, fergawdsake, everybody (everybody!) knows that the only actual solution in that case is for the poor to band together and get control back from the rich.
    Is any of that in the story? Your sentence is the first intimation I’ve seen that it might be. Otherwise it seems like the basic frame is just accepted, and the poor people duly play their allotted part and fight with each other for scraps.
    If they do just fight for scraps like they’re told, then it strikes me that the whole thing is horribly and fundamentally flawed. That frame is Not Okay. It should be repellent. It is a problem. The story is doing the exact same here-are-the-gladiators-and-violence-for-your-amusement that it says it is criticizing. It had better point to the way out of the frame if it’s to have any actual meaning.
    So does it? Or doesn’t it? I’d love it if a kind soul would let me know. Then I can know how much effort to continue to put into avoiding it!

    • quixote7, the story does point the way out of the frame of repellent violence. I think it does it well, because it shows that the fascist regime of the Capitol manages to bait the gladiatorial tribute with enough rewards for the winner that some people (in the wealthier Districts where they are not actually starving) will send their children to gladiatorial schools in the hopes that they will be gifted enough at killing to volunteer to replace a lottery tribute and win the prizes of triumph (a house in the best suburb, an income for life, increased rations for the whole district for the year afer their victory). These “Careers” almost always win, because they band together long enough to kill off the weaker non-warrior children, in the full knowledge that eventually they will have to fight it out amongst themselves. Some of those weaker children know full well that can’t win, but they also know that if they don’t give at least a showing of a fight, then the Capitol will make sure that their family (and District) starves at the very least, and possibly do much worse to them. Some of the stronger/faster/wilier children just run and hide and hope that they might be the last one standing as the others succumb to infection or animal attack or food poisoning (which are known (designed and exacerbated) hazards of the arenas) – but the Gamesmaster will manipulate the environment to bring them into contact with the others, so this isn’t as good a chance as it might be.
      Katniss subverts the Gamesmaster narrative of the “show” almost right from the beginning, relatively mildly in the first book but enough to make her hated by the PTB in the Capitol. The second and third books deal with the conseqences of that, and they do point the way out of the frame.

  9. Missed hearing from you FP. You brought up some good points about the Hunger Games. While some people complain about the writing I think the issues it brings up (horror of violence, importance of family, moral ambiguity) are presented in such a way that people with so-so reading comphrehension can enjoy and interact with the book. (BTW: The movie did a great job of translating the book to the screen, and Jennifer Lawrence was great.)

  10. *spoilter*
    @quixote7 – Yes, that is in the story, just not in the first book, although there are intimations of it beginning in the first book. And in the movie, there are a couple of compelling scenes where people in very poor districts start to rebel.

  11. P.S. In case you hadn’t caught this elsewhere quixote7, the mechanics of Reaping Day and the broadcast of the Hunger Games to the Districts are entirely coercive. The population is required to watch their children present themselves for the lottery while surrounded by regiments of armed guards, and they are required to have their televisions on when the Games are being broadcast. It is punishment to them for the rebellion of their ancestors against the Capitol, and it’s not at all subtle – the Capitol has surveillance technology to ensure compliance as well as grotesquely barbaric weapons of mass destruction. The tribute Disctricts don’t “go along with it” as some sort of ladder to success, they are convinced of their own powerlessness; even the parents sending them to the gladiator schools are still just offering their children the best chance of survival, because they still have to send their children out to Reaping Day every year.

  12. Hmm. Interesting. Thanks for the info. I feel a bit better about the popularity of the whole thing now!

    • I think anybody who has read the book and feels that it’s glorifying violence hasn’t been properly paying attention. This is not to say that the books are necessarily perfect executions of the author’s intent to criticise bread-and-circuses exploitative entertainment, but it’s certainly clear that the Enemy are those who treat the death of children as a circus, and that they are the ones whom Katniss and others who share her revulsion must ultimately overcome.

  13. Hey – glad to see a discussion taking place! 🙂 Sleepy this morning after a dinner out last night – trying to think what to do on this beautiful sunny day. Had thought I’d use some time for revision but think I might take the day off instead.
    @QOT – yeah, be great to talk when you’ve read them – I couldn’t put them down.
    @AofQ – yes, fiction was a lifesaver for me, a way to disappear into an alternative world and think about this world, think about possibilities and what I wanted/what was not okay where I lived. Without fiction I think I may well have been far more damaged growing up than I already was.
    @Hendo – I totally recommend them. Also, yes, I miss writing but got a bit fed up with taking on the ‘Sams’ of the world.
    @Aphie – yes, you’re right – that point was something that frustrated me on multiple levels. I think that each of the points could be a post in and of themselves. I want to hear why it is that feelings don’t have a legitimate place in deciding right and wrong – but also, yes, I think your points about immediacy have completely direct relevance in this situation, which was what I was trying to get at – the poor kid didn’t ever have a chance to kick back and think about ethics and morality – she still had a sense of ethics and a protective streak, but she was having to make decisions under intense and very specific pressures, in which case doing the best you can and examining the consequences when they are not ‘good’ seems to be a valuable thing to describe in fiction.
    @Valerie – yes, that was one of my favourite things too, a critique of the ways in which privilege can blind the privilege to the reality of suffering of others, the reality of over-consuming the things that people suffer to produce and don’t get to enjoy themselves.
    @Quixote7 – I’d echo tigtog’s points – the books to me were all about an exploration of bare-bones survival where it’s all you can think about, and on the questioning the entire structure, and to how can you subvert power that entrenched, and who are the ‘bad guys’, who is ‘the enemy’, what tactics are acceptable, and can you ever ‘escape’/break the cycle.
    @Eden – thanks! I’m kind of keen to see the movie now – I’m assuming it will gloss over some of the violence (it would have to I would think) and that they might ‘play up’ the romance stuff a bit more, but I’m keen to see how that translation went. Good to hear someone recommend it.
    @Deborah – yes, I think the books start to address that with the ‘dissent’ of silence, with the gesture of ‘thank you’, with the discussions with Peeta and Katniss on the roof, with the flower scene, with the berries, and then that picks up strongly in the second book.
    @tigtog – yes!! Yes I think that there is so much that needs to be explained before an author can make simplistic critiques like ‘no love’ or ‘sensationalises violence’ etc – you need to understand the whole framework, and the way the horror of no real escape is set up – within that context, as someone pointed out early in the comments on the SMH piece – there would *be* no book if Katniss had simply silently refused to take part – Katniss would be dead, as would her family and nothing would change. The books are at pains to show this – and to me that is what makes them valuable tools to examine oppression, privilege, complicity, power and coercion – how *do* you ever ‘stand outside’ something? How *can* you actually resist? When *is* rebellion effective, and how *does* power coopt your ‘rebellion’ and use it as their own weapon!
    @quixote – yep – for me these are novels that get kids thinking and engaged in a critique of rampart ‘free market’ capitalism. And to be honest I think *that* is what is just so very threatening for so many people.

  14. I’ve read few books so well poised to propel people into conversations about life’s largest and most urgent questions. I can’t imagine someone (including this thing we talk about, the “young adult audience”) reading it without needing to find someone straight away to thrash out how far you would be prepared to go to protect your family, or whether you would be willing to be complicit in something you knew was wrong in the hope of eventually finding a way to defeat it.
    Since well before this was written I’ve been musing on how it would work to put an English Lit course together of thematically linked pieces based around the question of whether it is better to die on your feet or live on your knees. HG would be a really good core text for it.

  15. Hi Orland0 – yes, my feeling was that it’s an excellent starting point for a lot of good and challenging conversations. I think it works well because it shows that it isn’t usually a simple choice of ‘dying on your feet or living on your knees’ – the vast majority of subjects had no ability to choose rebellion or not-rebellion, such was the level and extent of oppression and control. Survival meant keeping your head down and there were no opportunities for any resistance that didn’t mean death, not only for you but for the people you were trying to protect and keep alive. It showed up that, say for the coal miners in district 12, while there was talk of a rebellion, they were carpet bombed out of existence before there was even a chance to rebel, so that there is an investigation of privilege and the complexities of how power operates. Katniss only had the means because the Capitol had thrust her into the limelight – it put her through horrors, but it also elevated her visibility and influence, and in the end she rebelled when she didn’t really have any other choice. It also, in order to be able to examine it, or to make a real rebellion/escape even possible narrow down what Katniss had to fight against to distinctly identifiable ‘leaders’, that, if they were removed, would mean that things could then ‘change’.

  16. Sorry – my last comment should contain spoiler warnings of its own!

  17. I’m coming in late, but I’d really like to applaud your review of the books. I couldn’t put them down, I loved the politicization of the main character, and like you, I hated Twilight. I fistpump at the thought that these books do all this and do it without sex, which is something that Twilight gave into (regardless that it was after marriage).
    Thanks a million! I’m torn between going to the movie or not; I just don’t think the author’s vision can be achieved on screen.

  18. The claim that there is ‘no love’ is frankly laughable – did the author read the same book? Where…
    Along with your long list, there’s the bond she forms with Rue. I’ve only seen the film as opposed to reading the books, but it seemed to me that her relationship with Rue was her big turning point.

  19. Nick, in the book katnis’ relationship with Rue is explicitly tied to her relationship with Prim, her sister – arguably the reason she’s in the Games. I didn’t read it so much as a turning point as a reiteration of why she was doing what she was doing. Rue is a kind of horrible ‘what might have been’ (the race thing is interesting too – Katniss describes her fair haired, blue eyed mother and sister as unusual in their district, and President Snow is definitely white, the Capitol characters don’t get skin colour mentioned, barring tattoos and dyes, and the Careers are fair, as far as I can recall).

  20. @ ampersand duck – yes, I thought they did a nice job around relationship stuff – confused/conflicted feelings, not falling into ‘imprinting’ or predestination or anything, and also not being ‘prudish’ – you know, she’s not able to work out all the feelings, but describes the awakening of a new kind of feeling – and *still* doesn’t spend all her time ferreting out what that is/what it means etc.
    @SunlessNick – yes, Rue was at the forefront of my mind – I wrote the post while I was at work so it was quite a hurried response and I didn’t go into Rue territory as I was worried about specific spoilers – but her enjoyment of Rue’s company, her protectiveness, and the gestures made both in the arena and afterwards were quite loving I thought.
    @Aphie – yes, they do connect Rue to Prim all the way through, I think Katniss even switches names accidentally at one point – I liked the exploration of what life was like in Rue’s district, and I think that even beyond the Prim/Rue connection it does appear to be something that causes Katniss real grief, something that brings home the plight of District citizens and the brutality of the games. I’m interested in hearing more of your thoughts on the way race was dealt with.

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