I really struggled with The Hunger Games, especially the first novel of the trilogy. The whole time I was reading it I couldn’t help but think that if this were a movie, I’d have turned it off by now. The idea that people can be so made easily to turn on one another, regardless of innocence and knowledge that they are being used in someone else’s game. What made it even more difficult to read was the knowledge that everyday in the world this fictional novel is, on varying levels of accuracy, made into reality for someone, somewhere.
What kept me reading was real enjoyment of the characters: Katniss and her heart, hidden under layers of survival; Gale and his struggles on how to react in a world made into war; and Peeta who fights to hold onto his goodness and essentially himself in the face of great evil; and the more minor characters in their varying characteristics of humanity. I love them because they are so real, people really do act like that, think like that and so The Hunger Games becomes a study of humanity under great duress.
In the final novel, after the Rebels have become victors, the Games victors have to decide if they will create one last Games to punish Capitol and I feel it is a sad indictment of humanity that the majority vote for this last Games, despite knowing intimately what that means for the players and their families. You never find out if those Games are actually held and I can only hope that when the adrenaline wears off, people realised that there is no point hurting the children for the sins of their fathers, or no-one would grow to be an adult.
It is these thoughts and questions that have made The Hunger Games stay with me after reading them, and I find it refreshing that the characters themselves haven’t got it figured out by the end of the trilogy – it just makes them more human and even more readable.