Monday, April 11, 2011

Hunger Games

Hello! This is the first time I have used the blog, so please bear with me.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


This review talks about why the Hunger Games is a controversial book, and why you should still let your children read it anyway. The Hunger Games is a highly enjoyable and wonderful book that begins an immensely interesting trilogy. This book deals with primal human nature, romance, death, and love for those important to us. Due to the heavy subject addressed by the book, blood and gore are present for a great deal of the book. Therefore, this can be a bit of a drawback for younger readers, and I would not recommend the book to anyone younger that ten. Even so, it is very worthy of being read. The main character, Katniss Evergreen, lives in a war torn world. Her country, Panem, is in the same general area that the United States used to occupy. Katniss lives in District 12, which produces coal. She has to hunt for food to supply her family and ensure that they survive. I personally think that providing for her family has made Katniss a stronger person. She has a strong connection to her mother and sister, as well as her best friend and hunting partner, Gale. The two of them are the main providers in their households, even though they are both very young. This seems like a parallel to the way some children live in developing countries. I believe that presenting the issue in a fictional book is an easier way to show children that there really are such things in the world, even today. In a classroom setting, this could be used to open children's minds to the fact that the world is not pastel. There are some very violent colors out there, and we cannot hide this from them forever. Katniss's sister, Primrose is picked to be in a contest, engineered to keep the “districts” (colonies) in line and ensure that they do not try to throw off the oppressive government of the Capital, the head district. Katniss takes her sisters place as a tribute, because she loves her very much and knows that Prim would not be able to survive. I think that this is actually a good message to children. It suggests that family is extremely important, and that one should look out for their family no matter the situation. It also brings to mind the saying “blood runs thicker than water”. Katniss and the other tribute, Peeta Mellark, are sent off to the Capitol, where they are trained and paraded about to increase their support (and funding) from the citizens of the Capitol. They become crowd favorites for their innovative, custom outfits and Peeta's fake crush on Katniss. The Capitol and it's citizens represent everything that is wrong with today's society, such as vanity, stupidity, and greed. They have many body modifications that far surpass those common today, such as dyed green skin and and facial tattoos. Katniss describes them as “big, bright birds” that strut around in their colorful and impractical clothing. All of the tributes are taken to the arena, and given seconds to run for their lives. Katniss barely escapes, and heads for the cover of the forest. She learns later that night that Peeta has teamed up with the Careers, tributes from larger Districts that actually want to be in the Game. The Careers corner Katniss in a tree. They shoot arrows at her, and she cannot defend herself because she has no weapon. There is a Tracker Jacker nest beside her. Tracker Jackers are a type of genetically engineered wasps. They are very dangerous, seeing as just a few stings can kill a adult. Using the nest to her advantage, Katniss drops it on the Careers. Not only do some of them leave, one dies and Katniss can steal her bow and arrows. This part of the book is one of the more gory and violent. I feel that this was necessary to let the reader know just how serious the Games are. It is not an enjoyable experience to be cast in to a situation that jeopardizes your personal safety. I believe that this discourages children from choosing things that will cause them harm, like joining gangs or doing drugs. Both of these things can cause them to feel “hunted”, much like Katniss. After this, Katniss teams up with a small girl from District 9 named Rue. The two of them destroy the Career's food supplies. This infuriates their leader, Cato. Peeta seems to have deserted the Careers, which worries Katniss. She hopes that he is still alive and well. The enraged Careers track Rue and Katniss down. They plan on killing them both to exact their vengeance. One of them spears Rue with his weapon. Katniss hears her screaming and comes swiftly to her rescue. She kills the Career and and tries desperately to save Rue, but she is too late and Rue dies. Katniss mourns her death and covers her body with flowers. This is most definitely one of the saddest parts of the Hunger Games. You can just feel the grief that Katniss feels as she looks over Rue's dead body. In my opinion, this part of the book shows children that it is normal to be sad when people die, and that we need to express our feelings, not keep them bottled up inside. After Rue's death, it is announced that the tributes from the same District can now win. Katniss begins looking for Peeta, and finds him lying wounded and covered in mud. He had camouflaged himself so he would be safe. Katniss and Peeta fake a romance to get helpful things sent to them by their sponsors. The sponsors send them aid, and Katniss nurses Peeta back to health. Soon, the only tributes left are Katniss, Peeta, and Cato. The three of them face off and Cato is killed. It looks like Peeta and Katniss will be going home together, but there is an announcement; only one tribute can win. Peeta and Katniss refuse to kill one another, so they both make a deal to eat poison berries and die together. They put the berries in their mouths, but before they can swallow, the announcement is taken back. The two of them are taken away from the arena. The scene with the berries shows that friendship and love are more important than being the winner. It is better to have loving friends and family and be poor than to be rich and have no family or friends. It also shows that we should trust one another. If one of them had stabbed the other in the back, that would defeat the whole purpose of their friendship. Katniss and Peeta keep up the star-crossed lovers routine for the post-games reunion and interview, knowing that this is the only way to keep from being punished by the Capitol for the rebellious trick with the poisonous berries. Eventually, Katniss figures out that Peeta really is in love with her, and he figures out that she wasn't ever in love with him. As the train pulls into District 12, they put on a happy face for the camera, take each-other's hands and step onto the platform. So, parents, I would still consider letting your children read the books. It will teach them to consider things that they find are unfair, but feel cannot be changed. The Hunger Games will also show them ways to change these things. It will teach them of the value of human life and of love for one's family. It shows children that one tiny decision can cause a landslide of consequences. The lessons held in this fairly short book are immense and life altering. I hope that you will agree, maybe reading the book and letting your children read it as well.

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