The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 5 – 6)

After trying (and failing) to finish Evil Love: A Bully Romance by Ella Fields, I was excited to get back to The Hunger Games today. It’s always nice to reread a book that you know you love. No guesswork involved and no disappointments, just a good book. Plus, after that catastrophe of a book. I was excited to return a strong female heroine instead of the lackluster one I had left behind. I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the world of bully romances. If you have any recommendations in that genre that are actually good books, let me know.

And, of course, rereading The Hunger Games and going more in-depth during this read than I ever have before is making me notice plenty of new things about the series. During the last couple of chapters, I found myself drawing parallels between my life and Katniss’s life. I was surprised by the depth of her relationship with Prim. Her mother reminded me of my own. Her strength endlessly impressed me. Have you ever had the same reaction when you’ve sat down to revisit your favorite books? It felt like visiting an old friend and remembering all the reasons why we were friends in the first place. Katniss’s story fit itself neatly back into my heart.

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Five Thoughts

During our first introduction with Cinna, I always found myself wondering if somewhere deep in The Capitol there was a group of social justice warriors trying to give a better life to people in The District. Sure, some people cared about the people who lived outside of The Capitol. But was anyone trying to do anything for them? I’m not so sure. It seems too close to rebellion for anyone to really put an effort in. It is too much of a risk.

And that seems strange to me. I believe Panem is supposed to be America gone wrong. Wouldn’t some semblance of American free speech remain? Even if the movements were mostly hush-hush, I want to know if anyone was working behind the scenes to improve conditions in the district. Or if anyone wrote articles or books about life in the districts. I know later in the series we find out that there was a whole rebellion organization, but was there anyone trying for small scale reform? I wonder.

Cinna himself is very admirable. Unlike most citizens of The Capitol, he understands that the citizens of District 12 are starving to death while the people around him gorge themselves on food. He sees their behavior for what it is: despicable. Throughout this entire series, I’ve always wanted to learn more about Cinna. What made him realize the extent of The Capitols betrayal of the people? What made him notice the waste? What’s his background story? Cinna is more self aware than most other characters in this book. What made him that way?

Of course, it is interesting to note that, somewhere in Katniss’s interactions with Cinna, she discusses the fact that one year District 12’s tributes were sent to the opening ceremonies naked and covered in black powder. It is quite a casual comment, but one with lasting implications. These are children being sent out naked in front of thousands of viewers. Beyond just the brutality of the Hunger Games, these children are being treated as meat for the viewing pleasure of others. They are simultaneously sexualized and degraded. It’s horrifying and, once again, denotes the fact that the little details are what makes this book so powerful. Collins doesn’t ignore anything, even the fact that the world that would kill children would be alright with displaying their bodies in any way they choose. These children have no value to their government except as a perverted form of entertainment. 

And I’m surprised that I’ve never really thought much of that before. These were naked children sent out to be viewed by thousands. Perhaps it’s talking about Netflix’s release of Cuties that made me notice it today. Everyone seems to be calling attention to the oversexualization of children in our society and it’s interesting to see that sexualization reflected negatively in The Hunger Games

Slowly getting to know Peeta is another element to The Hunger Games that I always enjoy. He is so kind and pure compared to many of the characters. In a manner of speaking, his positivity reminds me vaguely of Prim. They have a lot in common if you think about it. They’re both slightly innocent and almost gentle. Of course, Peeta has been placed in an environment where his gentleness is unwelcome. Prim’s has been protected by Katniss. His will be altered by his involvement in the games.

Chapter 6 Thoughts

Did you know that six is my favorite number? It absolutely is. Just in case you were wondering. And this chapter is a good one so it fits. 

And of course, Effie Trinket is her normal self throughout this one. The fact that people of The Capitol refer to the citizens of District 12 as barbaric is just another insult to injury. Katniss’s understanding of the irony of that statement is a great detail. How can Effie refer to District 12 as barbaric when her own sacrifices children to a manic game of life or death? It’s ridiculous. 

Although, I’ve got to admit… Not everything about The Capitol is ridiculous. I would kill for half of their gadgets. Can you imagine touching an object and having perfect hair immediately? I think I spend more time combing out knots and tackling frizziness than anything else. Having something else do that for me sounds like a dream. 

However my delight at their gadgets, going back to the reality of how cruel The Capitol is is always shocking. What they do to Avoxes is particularly harsh. Cutting out their tongues and reducing them to speechless servants is horrible. Can you imagine spending the rest of your life forbidden to communicate with anyone? The only time someone speaks to you is to give orders? It sounds terribly lonely and I can’t think of a true real-world comparison. Even though we take away the rights of convicted criminals in America to a degree, they aren’t truly cut away from any form of communication. They’re allowed to speak. Avoxes have even that taken away from them. They have very few options for finding comfort in their situation. I wonder how many lose their minds after years of silence. 

I did always want to learn more about the female Avox though. I can’t remember finding out the answers to all of my questions. I think some are answered later on, but I can’t really remember. Why was she rebelling? I’m unsure. Maybe we find out in the third book? If you remember anything, let me know! 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 3 – 4)

Sometimes it surprises me all over again how good books stay good even as you get older. Some concepts just have a huge impact on us all. The idea behind The Hunger Games is definitely one of those concepts. As a child, the idea of competing in the games was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine having to fight for my life. I live in a world of comfort. As an adult, the idea of the games is absolutely horrifying. These are children being sent off to kill each other. Babies. It is horrible to think about. Imagine a world where you make an entertainment platform off of the deaths of children. It’s disgusting.

But that’s why I can still enjoy this book and it’s why millions of people have enjoyed this book. The distaste for this event is universal. Yet, it’s also universal to enjoy the drama and intrigue. This idea is so out there that you just have to read more. What is the world like in which this could happen? How do the citizens of the Capitol justify this? How can they enjoy watching kids die?

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.


Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, from the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Three Thoughts 

I never fully appreciated the differences between Prim and Katniss. Katniss is so strong and bold. Everything she does is geared towards survival. She is an adept hunter and woodsman. Prim is much, much softer than her. It is a testimony to Katniss’s strength that she has enabled Prim to, more or less, remain unchanged. Prim has been able to have a childhood. She is able to be soft and kind. It is admirable that Katniss has been strong enough to protect her from the harsher sides of their life.

Relationships like that between siblings are always really touching in my opinion. I know most of the time it’s due to lackluster parenting, but it’s still a powerful bond. Being protective of your siblings is nothing to shake a finger at. It’s wonderful that Katniss has been her sister’s protector in life. I also feel like her relationship with Prim gives a lot of children who have the same type of parental relationship with their siblings a role model. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one who has to take care of your siblings. It’s too easy to feel alone when you’re in that type of situation.

I also love Madge as a character. She is so completely understated, yet ends up having a huge impact on the storyline. Katniss would never be the same without her mockingjay pin. It completes her persona throughout each novel in the series. Another thing I never fully realized is how casually Suzanne Collins threw in Madge giving Katniss her pin. It seems so unimportant for something that ends up vital to the series.

Good writing at its finest. 

Katniss’s conversation with Gale during this chapter has always interested me. His take on her involvement in the games is so blunt and to the point. He believes she can win because she hunts and, at the heart of it all, The Hunger Games is just a hunt. You just have to think of your competitors as prey instead of people. It is an absolutely brutal thought process, but it isn’t incorrect. A normal human will have a hard time killing someone they view as a person. If she refuses to view her competition as people, it will be easier for Katniss to win. It makes sense, but it’s still horrifying. 

Once Katniss is on the train, the descriptions of wealth begin. The Capitol is so exceedingly better off than people in the twelve districts that even their train cars are decked out beyond the amenities that Katniss has in her home. There’s a shower with hot water! Katniss had never showered before. The difference in wealth and lifestyle between the various districts as well as between the Capitol and the districts catches my attention every time I read this book. They have so little in common. The Capitol takes their wealth for granted; people in District 12 starve to death. And, of course, there’s parallels to that in the real world. While I make a four course dinner for eight people one night, people around the world starve to death. It’s horrible, but it’s real, and a lot of it is based on the decisions of worldwide governments. I think I read somewhere once that we have more than enough food to feed every person on the planet; we just don’t. 

Plus, I love the extra attention Collins pays to details when describing the better parts of life – the luxuriousness of the shower, the taste of the food, everything. I could read about the food for hours on its own. It all just sounds so wonderful. Even just the description of taking a shower makes me want to take a shower of my own.

However, Effie Trinket does really bother me, but, of course, she’s meant to. Her derision towards people of District 12 is so obvious that it hurts. She has no real understanding of their experiences. When she looks down on the previous tributes for how they ate with their hands, it’s disturbing. Those two children had never had enough to eat. The sheer amount of food they were given as their first meal in the train would be overwhelming to them. Table manners would be the last things on their mind. It “upset her digestion” to watch two kids that had been slowly starving to death eat. How ridiculous is that. 

And yet, again, realistic. As a society, we judge people everyday on traits they can’t help. We judge them for being dirty if they don’t have access to a shower. We judge them as poor if they don’t have a good job. We judge them as stupid if they can’t get a good education. It’s unfair. But it’s real. It is to be expected that a spoiled rich girl from The Capitol would judge a poor child from District 12 and find them wanting. They have had none of the benefits growing up that she has had. Even regular access to food is out of reach. 

Chapter Four Thoughts

Learning more about Katniss’s mother’s mental illness always hurts a little bit. The distance that can emerge between people because of mental illness can be all consuming. Losing your mother to it is hard. I lost my own to her bipolar disorder. She became someone I couldn’t recognize. She became someone dangerous.

Of course, Katniss’s mother isn’t necessarily dangerous in a physically life-threatening way. But she is dangerous in the fact that she loses herself to her depression. She becomes unable to care for her children. Treating people who suffer from these conditions needs to become a priority for our society. They deserve better. Their children deserve better. You can’t raise a child if you can’t care for yourself in any regard. 

The same is true in The Hunger Games: they all deserved better. Katniss’s mom should have had access to proper healthcare. Katniss should have had access to food for her family. They should all have gotten better from their government and their society. But they didn’t. 

And, worse, The Capitol makes a game of their deaths. When Katniss and Peeta depart the train, Katniss is “…sicked by their excitement, knowing that they can’t wait to watch us die.” They are excited to see the tributes, even fully aware of the fact that they will be forced to fight for their lives as a form of brutal entertainment. They don’t see children, they see deaths. And they love it. 

But it’s hard to blame them. Do you think you would believe any different if you had grown up in The Capitol? They have no real understanding of what life is like in the district. The concept of starvation is unfamiliar and nonthreatening. They don’t view the tributes as people, just entertainment. How would you feel, living life in paradise, if you had no entertainment? The Hunger Games are their best and most interesting entertainment all year. It prevents boredom from setting in. Their lives are actually meaningless, they just don’t know it yet. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 1 – 2)

Apparently, I am very late to the ballgame. I didn’t know that Suzanne Collins released a new Hunger Games novel until yesterday. Yesterday! It’s been out for months! It must have gotten lost in the COVID-19 panic for me, but, thankfully, I now know and can remedy the fact that I haven’t yet read A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

But of course I can’t just pick up the book and read it! I want to consume it. I want to overanalyze every little detail until I can’t anymore. In order to do that, I have to do the unthinkable and reread the entire series start to finish. Trust me, this is my process. I mean, how can I possibly compare A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to Collin’s original series if I only have a faint recollection of them? Even if by faint recollection I do mean I reread them every year, it’s definitely time to reread them again. 

And so that’s what I’m doing, starting today. Of course, I did already rewatch the first movie as soon as I heard the news. I wasn’t really in the mood for reading at that moment so I figured I’d watch the movie. To be honest, it was nowhere near as good as I remember it being. Even without having reread the series in a while, there’s so many little details that they got wrong that bother me. The big one is probably the fact that the way Katniss got her mockingbird badge was all wrong. Why did they do us dirty like that?

Not that it’s not a great movie, It is. It’s just not as great as I remember it being when they first released it. No big deal. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

DISCLAIMER: My analysis of this book will be chapter by chapter. I will assume you’ve read the entire series in them. There will be MANY spoilers.

Side note: if you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, don’t continue reading. The rest of this is going to just assume everyone in the whole entire world has already read this amazing book. It is available for free right now if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription (September 10th, 2020). Luckily, I own the book so even if it wasn’t, I’m all set.

Second side note: I’ll probably write about this book a couple of times because I will not finish it today. I’ll probably just go chapter by chapter like I did for Midnight Sun. I like to take certain books slow. I’m also reading another book right now that I have plenty of mixed feelings about – Evil Love by Ella Fields. I don’t know when I’ll manage to fully formulate my thoughts about that book or finish it, but maybe I’ll hit my stride soon with that book. Right now, it’s just not clicking for me. The reviews about it seem mainly positive though so I’m hoping it’ll click somewhere.

Chapter One Thoughts 

I was excited to start rereading The Hunger Games today. I have a bunch of books that give me a little shiver of excitement when I pick them up and this is no exception. I always look forward to revisiting Katniss. Her world is so dangerous and dreadful. It is also beautiful and interesting. It’s hard not to love every page of this book, even as you read about the monstrosities that occur within it. What they all do might be terrifying, but that’s part of the point.

And I always seem to forget how much I enjoy reading Collin’s writing. I love how descriptive she is. Her world-building is just stunning. Everything feels so vivid and real. I also love the fact that she writes in present tense. Where most authors write in past tense, she is almost always in the present moment. It makes me feel like even the author doesn’t know what is about to happen next. Everything is new and surprising, even if you’re reading the book for the hundredth time.

I also personally rather enjoy when authors use normal words that we use for slang. Having the part of the district where Katniss is named the ‘Seam’ is unusual in the regard that we don’t call neighborhoods that today, but it doesn’t feel so unusual as to not be real. Part of that is because ‘seam’ is a word. It’s not some random collection of letters that have no meaning to us. Another example of an author who does this is Scott Westerfield. His series The Uglies are absolutely jam-packed with our normal words being used as slang. It adds such a depth and ease of understanding to books that I don’t understand why more authors don’t use it. Minor details are what makes world building vibrant and interesting instead of boring.

It’s also crazy to think that in such a dangerous and highly controlled universe, people in District 12 dare to break the rules. Suzanne Collins makes the point early on that everyone is at risk of death in this world. From mine explosions to starvation and death penalties, no one is safe. But Katniss dares to venture into the woods to hunt. Others dare to go past the fence to collect apples. Small rebellions that harm no one go mostly unpunished. Having read the book many times prior, I never really noticed how this makes you question the peacekeepers and their aims. How far will they allow District 12 to go before they push back at them? What are their limits? I had never noticed this small degree of foreshadowing. 

Reintroducing myself to Gale is always fun. I look forward to him every time I reread this book. He seems to ground Katniss and make her more real. Every change she undergoes throughout this series seems to be amplified in relation to Gale’s changes. They start off so similar that it’s shocking. They have inside jokes, love for the same people, and the same wants and desires. 

It is always humbling to be reintroduced to the class system that exists in The Hunger Games series. The difference in your class, AKA your degree of wealth, is literally life or death for your children. How much money you have determines how much food you and your family have access to. Nothing is free and there is not enough to go around. The richer you are, the more food you have. Seeing the difference between how Madge lives and how Gale and Katniss live is quite stark. The fact that they have to enter their names more time into the drawing for The Hunger Games just to survive is horrifying, especially considering that their entries are accumulative from the age of thirteen to eighteen. Katniss’s own name is entered into the games twenty times. Gale’s, at eighteen, will have his name entered into the games forty-two times.  Of course, there is only one victor in the Hunger Games and their chances of being the sole survivor are very, very slim. They may have a higher risk of being chosen, but their chances of winning don’t increase. They still come from a poor, starving, weak district. Having to fight because of that is only really a risk for the poor.

And it is absolutely horrible that a nation would do this, kill off the children in each district just to prove a point. As a reader, it’s hard to imagine living in a world like that. Who would sacrifice children just to prove a point? But even in our world many governments do. Nations bomb other nations just to prove the point that they can defend themselves. They kill innocents and label it as protecting themselves. Children do die just for governments to prove their points. The reality of war is horrible. 

In the case of the Hunger Game universe, the point of these children being offered up is that the Capitol will not abide rebellion. Some of your children will suffer and die, but not all of them as long as you obey the laws. They want to show the districts that they are at their mercy. 

I also forgot how quickly this book gets into the real action. While the world-building is vibrant and fully descriptive, it doesn’t take a long time. I didn’t remember how fast each page goes by. Primrose, Katniss’s sister, being drawn as the female tribute for The Hunger Games happens insanely fast. By the end of the first chapter, you know what the rest of the story will look like to some degree. Not so pretty. Not so nice. More violent. You know someone is going to struggle to survive. You just might not be sure who. It is an amazing cliffhanger for the very beginning of the book.

Chapter Two Thoughts

Have you ever had a moment where you can’t remember how to breathe? I’ve had quite a few and I remember none of them fondly. Being so afraid and upset that you can’t physically breathe is overwhelming. It’s horrifying. Katniss’s reaction to the event of her sister being drawn is understandable and upsetting. 

Yet, even understanding that feeling, I don’t know if I would ever be strong enough to get past it and volunteer myself as tribute. I would want to. I love my siblings more than anything. But I don’t know if I would be physically able to do so quickly enough. The fact that Katniss can get past that emotion quickly enough to volunteer herself is a testimony to her strength. I think it’s the very first scene where every reader was really blown away by Katniss. She was the girl strong enough to volunteer to die in return for her sister’s life. That’s something.

It’s also just a well-written scene. Suzanne Collins captures everyone’s hearts so quickly in The Hunger Games that I’m afraid we all forgot to congratulate her for it. It is just so well done. The one thing that everyone can agree on while reading this book is that Katniss deserves better than a world who would do this to her. Katniss is a hero. 

However, I’m not sure if I agree with Katniss that having the audience see her tears would make her weak. The Hunger Games is part colosseum part reality TV show. Her tears would make her status as a volunteer all the more dramatic for the audience. It might have won her sponsors to let them fall. She would become real to them and they might want to help her survive. 

In contrast with Effie Trinket’s response to Katniss volunteering, however, I’m not one hundred percent sure my take on things is the correct one. She assumes that Katniss volunteered to win herself glory, not to save her sister. Maybe all of the people in the Capitol are as naive. Or as shallow. 

When Peeta is volunteered as tribute, I have always thought it was interesting that Katniss compares him to prey: “,,,his blue eyes show the alarm I’ve seen so often in prey.” Even though her disdain for the games are obvious, she does begin to see her opposition as opposition. Peeta is already becoming prey to her in a manner of speaking. That feels like a very real and humane response, to be honest. Who wants to see their competitor, who could very well kill them or be killed by them, as a person? I wouldn’t want to.

As I’ve said before, it’s the little details that add depth to a story. That’s the case with the above and that’s also the case with Katniss’s background story. Her mother’s depression provides a reason for Katniss’s exemplary strength. It also explains her strong attachment and protectiveness of her sister, Prim. Of course she volunteered to save Prim. She’s been acting like her mother since her own mother vacated the position. 

But at the same time, Peeta’s mother’s cruelty also adds depth to his own character. It is obvious now, looking back at this story, that the author wanted you to get attached to both characters. Katniss is amazing, but Peeta is not without value himself. They are both tributes and both deserved better than that. Everyone does.