Monday, June 6, 2011

Adventures in Re-Reading: The Hunger Games

Book Re-Reviewed:  The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

When I read Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series last year, I tore through those things like something was chasing me.  The series' three books were so well-plotted and absorbing that I couldn't stop reading them, no matter how hard I tried. (It seems this is a common response.)  Now mind you, I am not a plot person.  Usually, plots just seem like a way to get to what I'm really into in fiction: character advancement.  I'm a character reader first, with a love for great prose coming second.  Loving plots is a very distant third.  That rule didn't apply to any of the Hunger Games books. 

So I was interested in seeing if this excitement would still hold if I reread the first (and my personal favorite) book in the series, The Hunger Games.  I'm here to tell you that it did.  I finished the bulk of the book in one long day of reading outside.  It was hot out, my knees were being sunburnt, and I had other things to do, but none of that mattered.  I was far too obsessed with Katniss's story to care about anything else. 

I won't say much in this review, since I said most of it when I read the book the first time around.  But on this second reading, I had more of a chance to figure out just what makes this book so good.  And I found out that as much as I loooove the plot, it's still the characters and their interactions that I like the best.  I think Katniss Everdeen is a really kick-ass character, and I don't just mean that literally.  Somehow, Collins manages to give Katniss a lot of personal strength and put her down in impossible circumstances without losing the fact that she's only a teenager.  Sure, she's in a life and death battle (and in the later books becomes a major symbol of a political revolution), but she's still confused by things like boys and her own emotions.  When I read The Hunger Games, I can't help but be transported back to my teenage years, and I mean that as a compliment.  Collins clearly remembers exactly what it's like to be somehow observant and obtuse at the same time, a trait that pretty clearly marks teenagers.

I love this series, and I'm going to once again recommend that you all read it.  Katniss isn't the only great character.  There's Peeta, the morally upstanding and lovelorn co-competitor; there's the talented and friendly Cinna; and there's the ominous President Snow (who plays a bigger role in the later books).  Best of all, there's Haymitch, the pathetic, alcoholic mentor who bumbles along a path towards more heroic efforts.  Woody Harrelson's been tapped to play Haymitch in the upcoming Hunger Games movie, and I think it's a fantastic choice. 

This book definitely holds up a second time around.  It's as awesome as ever, even when I know everything that's about to happen. 

Note:  I should add that this is the only book of the series I plan to reread this summer.  I only have a couple months until grad school, so I'm starting to get really picky about what I read in June and July. 

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