Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Hunger Games co-review

Twitter can be a wonderful medium. In December me, Shannon from and Memory from started reading The Hunger Games about the same time, and we decided to co-review the book.

Here is the result of those conversations:

Maree’s questions:

1) Team Peeta, Team Gale, or Team Boys Kissing (#teamboycolt)


I'm team boys kissing \o/

Team Boys Kissing. I don't feel like we saw enough of Gale that I can really judge between him and Peeta.

I think I lean more toward Team Peeta, but I am always up for
Team Boys kissing. I loved the idea of Peeta genuinely being in love
with Katniss, but Katniss being unsure if she believed him or not.
Call me a sentimental mushball, but there we are. Plus, we didn't get
to know Gale so much, and Peeta's just so darn likeable. On the other
hand, I feel compelled to note that if Katniss ends up with Gale, or
with anyone else, I will somehow manage to go on living.

2) How did you find Collins' worldbuilding of Panem? Liked it? Hated it? Were horribly confused by it?

I liked it mostly; it's an intriguing idea for a world, brutal though it is. I thought she kept hold of the strands very well, which I find is something that can easily go wrong with worldbuilding. I wanted to know more - more about the history, about how the Districts came about, how their specialties were allotted, etc

I liked it. It felt like a realistic dystopia, complete with the struggling masses and the privileged few intent on keeping the rest down. I appreciated the way she structured the society (though I certainly wouldn't want to live there), and I think she began the story at the perfect time in her world's history. The people have been downtrodden for so long now that it's about time for a change--which is where Katniss comes in.

I liked it. Like Memory said, I wouldn't want to live there, and like
Maree said, the horror of the situation was intense. I think I need
to read further, because I have other questions. Because, honestly,
the capital seems like such an awful place and they oppress the
districts so much. Is the one reality show seriously all they have
hanging over the Districts? Would people really sit there for 74
years and be like, "Well, no we don't actually like sending our kids
to be slaughtered, but... I guess. Have fun, kids. Try not to die."
It just doesn't say very good things about people.

3) The Hunger Games is a brutal reality show, which is basically young people killing each other for the entertainment of the masses. Did you have trouble with the concept?


I did and I didn't, I think? I loved the book, and I loved Katniss, but every so often I would stop and think, "My God. These children are killing each other," and have an urge to take them all home and feed them soup.

I think I had less trouble with it than I should've. I really enjoyed the book, but I was still able to maintain some distance from it. I think the brutality would've affected me a lot more if I'd been deeply involved.

A little bit. Like I said, I had trouble believing that was the only
thing the capital was holding over the districts. And I guess maybe I
would have believed it was more of an effective thing if Fatness or
anyone had mentioned names of past people from the districts who'd
died. It was just like, "Yeah, our district sucks and we just have
this one drunk mentor dude who won." But that's pretty much all the
recognition of the people who participated before Katniss and Peeta,
and that doesn't seem realistic. Then again, I should add that this
sort of thing didn't bother me while I was reading.

Memory’s questions:

4) Do you thing THE HUNGER GAMES lives up to the hype?


Yes and no. I often fell into that oh-so-destructive "just one more chapter... and, okay, maybe one more after that...” pattern as I read. I liked Katniss, I found her world convincing and I was always eager to see what would happen next--but I was never desperate for more. It was a diversion, and an entertaining one, but it hasn't become part of my life.

But at the same time, I can see exactly why so many other people have gone gaga for it. It's got a fantastic heroine, it's fast-paced, it's action-packed, it's well-written, there's a real emotional core and Collins leaves her characters with something to fight for. It's blockbuster material, through and through.

Yes, it does. It wasn't on my favorites list of the year, but I did
read it in a couple of sittings, and pretty much plowed through the
last part. I tend to be pretty hype-averse most of the time, so I was
kind of looking for stuff to gripe about, but I didn't really find
anything, and I really want to read the sequel now.

I think it did. I wouldn’t put it in the same category of The Knife of Never Letting Go, but it was still an excellent read. I kept wanting to sit down and read just a little bit more, and make time for it, because it’s one of those fast-paced books that you just have to keep going with.

5) What did you think of the present-tense narration?

I thought it gave the book a wonderful sense of immediacy. We were in Katniss's head, living all this alongside her. Present tense always adds a sliver of doubt into the mix, too. If the book's narrated in the past tense, you can be reasonably sure the narrator gets out of it alive. That's not the case with present tense--and since much of the tension depends on the reader's constant awareness of Katniss's mortality, present tense was absolutely the way to go.

I didn't even notice it. I don't think it would have worked had the
story been told in past tense, because the present tense gave the
story an immediacy that it really needed. But that being said, in
response to one of Memory's comments, I didn't have any doubts in my
mind that Katniss would make it. After all, there are two more books
in the trilogy to go, so I guess for me the tension wasn't quite as
strong as it could have been.

I loved the present-tense narration. I felt like I was right there with Katniss the whole time, and that’s what really kept me on the edge of my seat. The immediacy it gave the story was perfect for it.

6) Did you manage to remain spoiler-free, or were some scenes ruined for you?

Well, I basically knew who would live or die, based on some heated Twitter conversations I've been privy to! Mostly, though, I went in spoiler-free. I knew the basic premise, but there were still plenty of surprises along the way.

I remained pretty spoiler-free. I quit reading reviews for The Hunger
Games, and haven't been reading them for Catching Fire, when I
decided I really should read the book. I think that's the best way to
go into it, though.

Despite the fairly heated Twitter debates, I managed to stay spoiler-free. I didn’t read any reviews, and so I went into the story not knowing exactly what was going to happen, and I liked that. 

Shannon’s questions:
7. Do you want to read the sequel? What questions do you hope will be answered?


I definitely do. I want the Team Peeta or Team Gale question to be
dealt with, and I want more information about the political situation
in Panam. I also want to know what Katniss's life will be like, post-game.

I own the sequel already – I have no impulse control, although I haven’t read it yet. Yes, I definitely want to read the sequel. I want to know what Katniss’ life is like post-games. I’m a little meh on the team Peeta/Gale debate; I’m far more interested in what Katniss is going to do now, and how she’s going to navigate the changes winning the Games is going to bring.

I'll definitely be reading it, as soon as my library can give me a copy. :) I'm looking forward to seeing more of Panem than just District 12 and the Capital, and I'm eager to see how the love triangle plays out.

8. How does this book compare to other dystopic novels you've read?


Mostly, I can't read too many dystopian novels too close together,
because they're generally kind of depressing. But I liked that this
one ends on a hopeful note. Katniss and Peeta are victorious, and
even though their personal lives aren't happy, I did like that they
stuck it to the man. I wasn't left feeling like, "Oh, God, the author
is going to make them suffer more' the way I was at the ending of,
say, The Knife of Never Letting Go. I really appreciated that.

Hmmm … I love dystopic fiction, but I’m bad at making comparisons. (Is that a cop-out I see? Sort of.) I loved The Chaos Walking books to the point of near-madness, and while I do love The Hunger Games, I probably enjoyed Chaos Walking more. But that was more about the writing, I think, than the worlds. Both worlds are incredibly well-realised and equally heart-breaking. (#teamboycolt)

I haven't actually read many dystopias yet; the only other ones I can think of are THE ROAD and THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. THE HUNGER GAMES was by far my favourite; even though Collins uses the dystopic setting as a backdrop, the focus is always firmly on Katniss and what she's going through. The characters never feel like an excuse for the plot, which I'm afraid was the case with the two others I've read.

9. Would you read other dystopian fiction?

Yes. Like I said, I can't read too many too close together, but I do
enjoy them when I'm in the right mood. Again, if there's that kernel
of hope at the end, where I feel like the characters' struggles mean
something, I am all about that.

Oh yes. Like I said, I love dystopic fiction. The worlds and ideas are always so intriguing to me. 

I'm definitely open to reading more--starting with CATCHING FIRE.


Ana S. said...

Go Team Boys Kissing!

So, my suspicions are confirmed...not as good as TKONLG :P (I totally want to read it, though. Just waiting for all 3 to be out, because at this point I might as well.)

raych said...

Boy colllllllllllllllllllllllt!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I am glad you all enjoyed the book. I really loved it and had it done in no time flat because I couldn't stop reading it. I then dove right into Catching Fire. I can't wait for book three to come out.

I had not looked at this book at all until a good reading friend convinced me to read it. I did NOT like the idea of people killing each other for sport, let alone children being made to do this as entertainment. That idea really didn't settle well with me. But, I am glad I read the books. As you read you know this is going on, but being in Katniss's head is a little different. She is not out there on a blood thirst to kill and win. She is there to survive, and she doesn't know how she will handle having to kill anyone. I like that view point a lot.

I think I am leaning toward Gale as the man. BUT, let me say I don't know much of Gale and have seen a lot of Peeta, BUT I think it is where Katniss ends up in who she is to decide which boy she will choose. Will she go with the rebel and old home person, or will she be in the lime light as a winner? Her personality choice is going to be a big decision in who she lives out life with. She is changing in herself. She would have been great with Gale if she would have never gone to the games, and maybe still if she can return to the person she was before the games. Maybe the games had to big of an impact on her and she is a different person and will be with Peeta. We shall find out in the end... So GO TEAM BOYS KISSING!

Great review to all of you. I really enjoyed the team effort here! Thanks!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.