Yes, I'm deliberately being the last person on the planet to read this series. I have had Reservations about reading it for years, even though I read every dang spoiler over at Mark Reads while trying to decide if I wanted to read it or not. I am generally NOT into horror movies or anything where everyone but one person (maybe) gets slaughtered, so despite the rest of the premise being intriguing, I've been going back and forth and back and forth about reading it.
Finally I am sucking it up because uh...I kind of want to see the movie (I don't even know WHY, if I can't stand reading the carnage, I'm going to watch it?!) and coincidentally I got gifted with most of the books. Fine. Whatever.
I think at this point everyone knows the premise of this series, so I won't even bother saying what's what. I'll just uh...say some random thoughts. Should anyone left still care, this is 100% filled with spoilers. If by some strange coincidence you haven't read them either and care, don't read this. This is your final warning.
- I like the contrast between Peeta being a personable, mental strategist sort of fellow and Katniss being a brutal survivor sort. I'd be interested in reading this book again only done from his POV (a la the infamous "Midnight Sun"). He must have some interesting thoughts here.
- I know everyone in District 12/most of the Districts is brutally poor, but you'd think that if you know your odds of getting slaughtered between ages 12-18 are really good, most people might want to try to learn skills that could be good should they be picked. Like using an axe, tying knots, which plants to eat, stuff like that. Just an idea.
- Mostly the thing that stands out to me in this series is the sick mental system they have going on. It takes like what, a week to go from ordinary kid to sudden brief beautiful celebrity to slaughter bait/homicidal killer? Holy shit. You'd think you'd want to string out the time a bit longer between those moments. They get styling, a parade day, 3 days of training, a media training day, a day of one 3-minute media interview and kaboom, it's dead time? Good lordy.
- How on earth is a world that has fancy flying machines and the like still having the Hunger Games people ride around on trains most of the time?
- The mental strategies used by all of the Capitol/Haymitch/Games veterans are both interesting and sick at the same time. Why choose to treat Katniss and Peeta as a pair from the getgo (unless they figured out his crush on her early on)? How you have to somehow be personable and dressed up in order to get sponsors. Who's allowed to be with you at the last minute and who isn't. It's all just...freaking weird and makes our reality TV look like nothing.
- I was weirded out at the scene where Katniss, in a horrible mood, just stomps off and uses the shower. She only just learned how to use it like what, yesterday? I probably take longer trying to figure out how to turn on random hotel showers. It seemed so casual and like us that it didn't fit in with the rest of the brutal poverty of her life.
- Also weirded out at: Katness wasting food by throwing out cookies, forgetting her mother's dress and then losing it forever.
- They set up the arena entirely during the last week? Really?!? They don't plan this shit for an entire year first? I know they have better tech and all, but the guy who blings up his house at Christmas in my hometown and does walk-through tours at least takes like half a year to put that stuff up. And that's without funky modified animals and constant implements of death. I can understand last-minute changes, but what are they doing, quick-grow vegetation? Digging up a desert to install?
- It's frightening how this whole thing is designed to take the human urge to bond with each other in a shared (crap) situation and instead you absolutely can't.
- How come your stylist is the last person allowed to say goodbye to you before you die? Not your mentor (hah), not your sheepherder (Effie), but the stylist? Who isn't beautifying you on the last day so much anyway? Odd. Also interesting in that after about an hour on reaping day, you never see your family again. What, they don't parade your relatives in front of the cameras? Too depressing or missed opportunity for drama and putting the little people down? Just wondering.
- I'm with Peeta on wanting to die as yourself. Except I don't think there is any way to do that.
- I'm trying to picture having Hunger Games re-enactments as a vacation trip. What the fucking fuck?
- Wow, Haymitch was right about the Cornucopia.
- Also, alliances here: so much more problematic than on Survivor.
- Likewise, the semimanufactured romance has so much more fucked-up-ed-ness and stakes than ye olde Bachelor. Whoring yourself out on TV for food and medicine. Fun times. And yet, still...cute.
- I like the moment where Thresh (seriously, THE NAMES) saves Katniss's life for helping Rue. Enjoying what little humanity/non-murdering they still have left there.
- Did Peeta directly kill anyone? That one girl when he was with the Careers? I'm not sure.
- HOW THE HELL DO THEY DO THIS PERFECT SCIENCE STUFF IN THIS BOOK? Magical scarless healing, insta-anything in the arena...and speaking of:
- JEEBUS CHRIST THE MUTTATIONS. Made out of fucking dead tributes. Worst. Thing. Ever. Are they conscious? Is it just their bodies? How the hell would you like to be their parents and see this on the televison and there isn't fuckall you can do about it?
- Of COURSE they pulled a last minute rule change. I love Katniss for suggesting dual suicide. ROCK ON. Fuck y'all.
- And of course things are still dangerous and fucked up after she gets out. Of course.
- Awww, reunited and..."he's kissing me and all the time I'm thinking, Do you know? Do you know how much danger we're in?"
- And of course, the first thing a tribute wants to do after recovering from the arena is...WATCH IT ALL OVER AGAIN!
- Three hours of mandatory watching of rehashed slaughter. And y'all bitch about voluntarily watching the Oscars every year.
- Peeta's leg: I guess they can't fix everything with their miracle science.
- I don't know why I am supposed to care about Gale as a romantic prospect, given how little he's in the book and how Katniss isn't the swiftest at romance anyway.
- Poor Peeta. Poor confused "is it a show or not, I have no idea" Katniss.
Overall thoughts: it's a sick situation, which the author handles well. She takes our modern obsessions with reality TV and terrorists and crap like that and twists it just well enough to still shock the hell out of people. I think the Miracle Science is a bit too easy, but whatever, it almost works. Mostly you just keep thinking that this is a sick, sick system and you don't see how anyone would get out of it, except if you're Katniss and manage to play it JUST RIGHT...for now, anyway. I am pleased that the entire book isn't quite the bloody slaughterfest I was expecting--and suddenly you're thinking, "What the HELL is she talking about, it's not a bloody slaughterfest?" I was expecting more along the lines of shitty horror movie or Kill Bill with Katniss having to personally shoot all 23 people, but it doesn't work that way. Some die accidentally, plenty die offscreen, it's not quite the total gorefest from hell that I expected--at least up until the mutts come in, anyway. Katniss personally offed like what, 3 people? Justifiedly so? Not really freaking my conscience so much there. So go figure. I'm not feeling the objections that I did so much at this concept.
I think even if you don't like Katniss (not sure if I do or not), you feel for her and mostly understand why she is doing what she is doing. The girl is a hardcore brutal survivor before she went to the Games and she makes that work for her. Peeta isn't the same sort of fellow and yet he makes his own traits work for him. You root for them as a couple despite the whole "we have to fake love so we don't die" thing, and you know that despite Katniss's doubts and how she thinks she's faking, she isn't really. Though I seriously do not care about a love triangle with a guy we barely know as a the third anyway. But overall, it gives you a lot to think about.