Suzanne Collins starts us off in this trilogy in a city of poverty, starvation, and desperation with a young girl who has been providing for her family by hunting after the loss of her father in a mining explosion. Written in first-person, the reader gets to know all of this girl’s innermost thoughts, told in a factual manner from our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Let me be honest, at first, I did not believe that Jennifer Lawrence was the best fit for this role, but after this second reading, I find that her performance is pretty well-matched to the strong, but socially awkward girl that we get to know in this first novel.
The people of District 12 are kept in line with violence in the form of what is called the Hunger Games. Indeed, everyone from every District has to sacrifice two children every year between the ages of 12 and 18 as a reminder of the Rebellion that the country’s lower class citizens fought and lost against the capital city Panem. If the Hunger Games isn’t enough of a reminder of the Districts’ dependance on its capital city, the still smoking remains of District 13, bombed from the face of Earth during the war, gives an even more ominous sign of what could happen to any district bold enough to challenge the Capitol again.
One of the things that wows the most is probably how closely the book and movie line up. There are hardly any of those glaring differences that we are slapped with in the Harry Potter books versus their movie-counterparts. And who could’ve been a more perfect fit for Peeta, the baker’s son? A warm and loyal personality wrapped in a secret strength that not even he was aware of. Yes, Katniss Everdeen might have been the girl on fire, but if she were flame, Peeta was the coal which allowed her to burn, for Katniss tended to fail miserably at being charming or friendly without his everlasting support.
Maybe it was the reality that Katniss put her life in jeopardy to save her sister from going into the arena that gave her the strength to fight off her opponents so fiercely. Perhaps it was little Rue with her beautiful dark, trusting eyes and the name given to her also from a flower, so reminiscent of her own little sister, Primrose, that helped endow her with the defiance she needed to resist becoming another faceless pawn in the Capitol’s Hunger Games. Of course, we cannot forget to mention Peeta with his natural charm and talent for upstaging her, Peeta, who put his own life in the cross fire of the career pack (a band of well-trained, blood-thirsty murderers usually from districts much more friendly with the Capitol) to give Katniss a greater chance at survival. Katniss with her narrow view of survival, became determined to keep both, herself and Peeta alive after it was announced that two winners would be selected as long as they hailed from the same district.
Katniss, with her defiant triumph over the game makers lit the flame for something far greater than an older sibling sacrificing herself for her sister. And like fire, it was sure to grow into something no sacrifice would be able to control.
The ending begs you to continue the story as it is very clear that there is more story to be told. So, as an obedient reader, I moved onto the second novel to see what happens to Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire.
Quotes to remember for their humor, imagery, or outright loveliness:
“Prim’s face is as fresh as a raindrop…”
“Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love.”
“…the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence.”
“But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become someone precious.”
“But they had everything here. No cause to rebel.”
“The number, which is between one and twelve, one being irredeemably bad and twelve being unattainably high, signifies the promise of the tribute.”
“They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner. In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early. You see an elderly person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival. A plump person is envied because they aren’t scraping by like the majority of us. But here it is different. Wrinkles aren’t desirable. A round belly isn’t a sign of success.”
“…made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance, and by all accounts, unforgettable.”
“This is what birds see. Only they’re free and safe. The very opposite of me.”
“Here is the place where I love you.”
“The way she almost stopped living when he died.” This refers to Katniss and Primrose’s mother after the lost of her husband (their father).
“I will die, in my own small way, undefeated.”
“Because when he sings…even the birds stop to listen.”
“Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.”