The Hunger Games (again)

I just finished rereading the Hunger Games. I’m sure you have seen all the buzz and crazy fans as the movie came out a few weeks ago. I read it the the first time two years ago (I had to look up when Mockingjay was published to know it was that long ago). I hosted book club most recently, so I got to pick the next book. I chose the whole trilogy.

It was never a question that I would reread the books. I also wanted to reread The Hunger Games before I saw the movie. I was nearly finished the first book when we saw the film. I personally think they did a really good job. It’s not easy to turn a book into a movie, so many details, what do you leave out, etc. etc.

I slammed through Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I couldn’t put the book down, well, I could….but read them both rather fast given how long it typically takes me to finish a book.

Spoiler Alert – if you haven’t read the books and intend to, I’m about to talk about the story so be warned…

This time around, I was haunted by how damaged Katniss and her fellow tributes were after the games. The nightmares, the horror of having to go back for the Quarter Quell, what Haymitch lost and what Finnick had to endure. That Joanna lost everything and everyone she loved, and therefore had nothing to lose herself. It’s one of those situations that people just don’t know and could never even imagine to know if they haven’t lived through it.

Like childbirth.

Or depression.

I wept reading the last chapter when Katniss finally started to feel the emotion and heaviness of losing Prim. The one person she was trying to protect the most, so quickly slipped through her fingers. That it somehow allowed herself to fully open up to Peeta and even get to a place of having her own children 15 years down the line. Fifteen seems like a blip. To a seventeen year old girl that lost two members of her family, and countless allies and confidants, 15 years must have seemed like an eternity. If she even made it that long.

I kept thinking, if I had to go through something like that, like the Hunger Games – and lived to tell about it – what would my damage be? Would I be able to carry on? And in reality, did Katniss really carry on before the end? That image of living as a hollow shell. Going through the emotions because that is what one is “supposed” to do. How easy it is to wander the halls and find some closet to hide from the world.

Still – enjoyable. Yet, more painful and real for Katniss, Peeta and every other “victor” around them. Not really a victor at all. No one won in the Hunger Games.

I’ve heard many people around me that haven’t read the books talk about how disturbing it is and why would anyone want to read a book about kids killing kids. That is very short-sighted. The killing is such a small part of the whole story. The real thing that should disturb them is how adults can manipulate a child’s world. While other adults stand by and do nothing about it.

It’s so important to stand up for the kids, when they cannot – or should not – stand up for themselves.