Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Hunger Games ~ Book Review

The Hunger Games
L-R: Cato (District 2 Tribute), Cinna (Capitol Designer), Effie Trinket (District 12 Rep.)
Rue (District 11 Tribute), The Mockingjay, Haymitch Abernathy (Former District 12 Victor)
Katnis Everdeen (District 12 Tribute), Peeta Mellark (District 12 Tribute), Gale Hawthorne (District 12 Resident)

~ ~ ~

     Normally I don't do book reviews, but I am compelled to review The Hunger Games (like so many people on Blogger have). I'm not going to lie, The Hunger Games is very controversial, but if you look back, history is filled with societies such as the Capitol and their ruthless ideas of entertainment, mainly the Gladiators of Rome. Blood, death, and glory call all be called ideals of entertainment as long as one is watching, not participating. 

    In one review I read that the reader had a problem because "God was never mentioned" or "Katniss never called on God for help." Well, even I knew the issue behind that before I picked up the book. Panem is a dystopian society or a society that is dehumanized, government run with no free choice or freedom of speech and above all, lived in absolute fear.

     In dystopian society all culture and religion is band and all allegiance is given to the run of the government, who have outlawed the higher power and have turned the people to a life of complete despair. When the world steps away from God, then it steps closer to evil. When the world walks away from the light, it is most assuredly walking into darkness.

     Similar to other stories such as Lois Lowry's novels "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue," where children are given responsibilities based on natural talent to be used for the governments own gain. 

     Ray Bradbury's, "Fahrenheit 451" about government's complete control and the disbandment of reading. 

     Also, the film "Equilibrium" starring Christian Bale, where everyone in society is "equal" and any sign of feeling or emotion, whether found in music, books, or even human love, is illegal.

    If you haven't read or seen any of the above, you need to. You will get a better understanding of dystopian society and the corruption of government, that either lead to the breaking of man or the rebellious resurrection of mankind.

     As matter of fact, while we're on the brief lines of Christian Bale, "Batman" can also be considered a dystopian society, because of government's corruption.

~ ~ ~

The Capitol and the 12 surrounding districts (click to see higher resolution)

Peeta Melark, Katniss Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne
Panem & District 12

    The society of Panem (former North America) is made of up 12 districts. All districts are judged and based by what they provide to The Capitol (the government). There is a hierarchy in Panem regarding the districts. District 1 in providing luxury, making it the wealthiest, to District 12 that provides coal, therefore making it the poorest. 

     As punishment for rebellion in the what was once District 13, the Capitol holds The Hunger Games every year. Once a year every boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are gathered in the town square on Reaping day. One boy and one girl from each district is selected to compete in The Hunger Games. In truth, it's a blood bath to see who is still standing at the end, but instead the Capitol glamorize it and make it appear as survivor reality show that is mandatory watch for everyone in Panem. Their success as Victor can mean wealth for themselves as well as temporary prosperity for their districts.

     The punishment is for the parents who must watch in horror as their selected child is thrown out to the wolves and are mercilessly terrorized on world wide television. What was suppose to be the next generation of hope, is destroyed in front of them. The Capitol will not be mocked and it will not be usurped.

     The Capitol is materialistic and worldly, their attitude is "What's best for me" or "Whatever makes me happy." Most people are, but there are others that believe that real wealth can be found in generous deeds and acts of kindness and that true honor is found in sacrifice. In District 12, though, people may come across as cold or even ruthless, but there are moments of love and generosity. 

     Katniss Everdeen has lost her father in the coal mines when she was 12 and her mother has become silent and withdrawn from her daughters. Katniss must provide for her family by hunting and selling, gathering berries and herbs, and making deals in The Hob (the district marketplace). 

     Because of the lost of her parents, Katniss is cut off from the world; she seems incapable of loving and can't even fathom the thought of having someone else lover her. The only affection she gives is to her younger sister Primrose and to her best friend and hunting partner, Gale Hawthorne. Katniss' love from Primrose is so strong that is doesn't even phase her when she volunteers as tribute in her younger sister's place for The Hunger Games.

 "Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

~ I Corinthians 13:6-7

     Now, I have read in books reviews that although Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister, the readers found that her participation in The Hunger Games was eventually selfish and self serving. That her will to survive was only for her own gain. That even though she knew what was wrong, she played the games anyway and that was eventual selfishness.

     How so? Katniss needed to survive to get home to her mother and her sister. She made a promise to her sister that she would come home.When other people are out on the hunt for your life, you don't just stand there and let them have you. You have to fight to defend yourself. There is a big difference between murder and self-defense.

     Others have said that if Katniss didn't want to be part of the games, why didn't she just take her tracker out?

     How on earth was she suppose to do that? I mean really??

     This all goes back to the lack of God in dystopian society. Katniss does not know God, but she does know love. Just because God is not physically mentioned in the book, doesn't mean that he is not present in the spirit of Katniss' heart.

"All truth is is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God."

~ John Calvin
      What is truth to Katniss?

      That murder is wrong.

      To stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves.

      To honor those that have fallen.

      To give love and to accept it.

      That maybe you are not in control of your life.

      To forgive even when it may seem unthinkable.
     I don't read a book so I can try to find God, but God normally finds me during the reading when I don't even realize it. Now of course, this was pretty obvious. The author, Suzanne Collins, saw Katniss as the Christlike figure who gave her life for her sister. Katniss tried to push love away, but there was a love so strong in her, because of her sister's own love, that she did the unthinkable and volunteered to lay down her life.

~ ~ ~

Katniss & Peeta
The Hunger Games

The Tributes
The Hunters
The Victors
"He who saves one life, saves the world entire."

~The Torah

      Katniss' adversary whom she must fight in The Hunger Games is the baker's youngest son, Peeta Mellark. Their interesting relationship starts back shortly after Mr. Everdeen dies and Katniss and her mother and sister are starving. Unable to find any food, Katniss is behind the bakery, defeated and about to breathe her last breath, when Peeta throws her a couple loaves of burnt bread.

     Those few loaves of burnt bread gave Katniss her strength back, but more than anything, it gave her hope. There was still goodness, there was still a trust in humanity. She was able to discover how to use use roots and plants to eat and put into soups, she learned to become a better hunter, and even her mother would come out of her daze to help. Peeta's actions were illegal and he could have suffered severely for it, but his sacrifice did more than feed Katniss, it saved her soul.

    When faced with 23 other tributes, most of them out for one each others blood, Katniss and Peeta realize that maybe being killed would be more preferable than killing. Alliances are formed and Katniss and Peeta find themselves on oppoite sides most of the time. Katniss teams up with Rue, a charming 12 years old from District 11 and Peeta gives the appearance that he is with the dominate alliance, but you can never be sure whose game he is really playing.

      Peeta's genuine strength of character and moral attitude is a constant beacon throughout the story. He will by no stretch of the imagination kill, he will not lose himself in The Capitol's brutal ideal of courage and honor. Katniss herself, believes this and also resigns not to kill, unless it is in self defense. In the end they are victors, because their moral conscience won over the political law.

    Like the Jewish students of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego who would rather face the fiery furnace than bow before the king's idol and were spared from the flames*, Peeta and Katniss were spared because if their honor and humanity.

   Unbeknownst to the both of them...they change the world. 

    Peeta's act of mercy saved Katniss, leading to Katniss' sacrifice and honor that was seen throughout all of Panem. Both of them would not surrender their moral beliefs in The Hunger Games. Katniss gives honor to Rue when she is killed and leaves her body in gathered flowers. Her act of nobility, leads to Rue's district to cause an uprising against the Capitol. The Capitol is shocked by what they witness and eventually are engulfed in a losing battle between themselves and the districts of Panem.

  And it all began with a boy's courage to save a life...

~ ~ ~ 

      For Such a Time As This

Peeta and Katniss during the Victory Tour in "Catching Fire"
"And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?

~Esther 4:14

     Since The Hunger Games trilogy has been out for awhile, most people know that Katniss will no longer be made to give into The Capitol's tyrannical rule and leads a rebellion. So, one must wonder? 

      Was Katniss' part in The Hunger Games, just by odds or mere coincidence? 

    Or maybe it was something more. She took part in The Hunger Games and returned victorious. Her title as Victor gave her chance to challenge the powerful and overcome the impossible.

     Perhaps her decision to volunteer as Tribute was meant for something more, something greater than gaining the title of Victor, but rather bring victory to all Panem and restore goodness and humanity.

~ ~ ~

      Is the book series controversial? Yes.

      Does it make question my belief in mankind and humanity? Yes.

     This probably isn't what one would call a 'book review,' but I wanted to talk about the elements that really jumped out at me the most and that was Katniss and Peeta and how the story revolves around them. A good story is based on the content of the protagonist characters, all the other is just background work.

     If you look hard enough and not focus on the general public view of The Hunger Games storyline, you can find that this story and it's characters hold an intensely moral viewpoint.
     Katniss: Self sacrifice and love

     Peeta: Courage and loyalty

     Gale: Friendship and nobility

     Rue: Kindness and genorosity

Primrose: Hope and joy
  Haymitch: Intelligence and leadership

Seneca Crane: Civil disobedience against a corrupt government, 
which eventually led to his death.

     No book is going to be accepted by every audience and not every book is going to directly mention God and his works. Like I said, I don't read books just so I can find God in them, I read books to enjoy the story. I leave it to God to make an appearance in his own good time.

* Daniel 3

1 comment:

  1. Good review! I'm surprised anyone would comment on there being an absense of God... I mean, it is secular fiction, so that's kind of... usual. ;) But I agree with you, and I love that the characters stood for stuff--like Peeta--and even though he had to kill the girl with the campfire, he still had a conscience. I love all the questions it raises!


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