Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fangurling: The Hunger Games Trilogy

by Suzanne Collins

~ Click here for the unbiased and spoiler-free review ~

I was already familiar with the Hunger Games popularity even before the second book was released. Its popularity made me curious so when I spotted it in the bookstore oneday, I read the plot at the back. It sounded so much like Battle Royale, which I didn't appreciate much because of the sexually mature themes. Though I am certain a YA novel won't ever go that far, I still don't think I could appreciate it because of the reality TV thing. I never appreciated reality TV series with the likes of Survivor and Amazing Race, so my interest in the novel's story became even lesser. What made me more convinced that I won't ever appreciate it is because I see a certain author's name among the reviews saying that she's so obsessed with it. Why? I just can't imagine getting hooked to a series that is loved by an author I disliked. I don't care if Stephen King, an author that I like, had praised it despite that. Not all the books that my favorite authors like are what I like anyway. Because of that I've been ignoring this trilogy and paid more attention to other novels (and my other fandom).

During the month of the third book's release, I found out that a close friend of mine is actually hooked to it. Since we have similar tastes, I thought that I might end up loving the series after all because my friend did. It took me a while before I decided to buy the first book already.

I didn't read it at once though. I just left it on a shelf then continued with my daily life. The one night, when I finished a certain novel, I thought of giving Hunger Games a chapter or two.

The next thing I knew was that I was already at chapter 5 in the middle of the night!

Unlike the other YA novels I've read before it, its first chapter was already so terrific that reading it felt like it was saying to me, "Put me down and you'll regret it!". In other words, it's such a page turner... really difficult to put it down because knowing what will happen next has been exciting and seeing the world through Katniss had been interesting.

I think the choice of a novel's narrator is very crucial.... because how he/she narrates the story matters a lot. I mean, it's seriously difficult to appreciate the story if the one telling it is freakin' annoying. Thank goodness Katniss is a likeable character. She uses her brain; she analyzes and observes, formulates strategies and considers multiple options. She's no close-minded idiot who only relies on the others to do the thinking. She also doesn't waste paragraphs in decribing how beautiful things/people are and in agonizing about how unfortunate she is.

Katniss has not only been a decent heroine, but also lovable and admirable. Sure, she may be a little extra special among the other characters.... but at least it's because of her own efforts, even if she did them unkowingly, not out of pure luck or coincidence. She acts stupid at times, but at least she's aware of it... and she faces the consequences and she actually improves herself. I love her skills and limitations, her strengths and weaknesses. I love this girl.

Actually, there's no character that I absolutely abhor in the series, because I find none of them annoying. All of them had been interesting in their own way, whether they're major or minor characters. Yes, even the main villain who's absolutely heartless. I find it better if villains do their role well.... and also those that only hold back for a good reason.

A terrific leading character and a marvelous main villain.... actually that's already enough to make a decent series because they're seriously rare. What's even rarer is that this series managed to give enough character development to most of the characters in this series. I firmly believe that we could've learned even more about the progress and the backgrounds of the other characters if we didn't need to rely on Katniss's point of view. But well, even if we're limited to only seeing what Katniss does, what we get to know about the others is already satisfactory.

Speaking of satisfaction, one of the things that made me so pleased with this series is how it represented love. For one, it didn't focus only on romantic love. I was so relieved that it also puts great emphasis on the love for family, friends, and countrymen. The saying "love conquers all" isn't only applicable to romantic love, you know. I'm so happy that the characters here aren't absolutely blinded with erotic passion.

Another is that the love stories here are heartwarming, sometimes tragic, but overall absolutely beautiful. It's so amazing when he characters express their love, because it's something that you call true love, not to mention it's pretty realistic. They love everything of their other half, no matter what his/her flaws are. There's a reason on why opposites attract. It also showed that sometimes romance is somethng practical: you pick the one you need the most.

The most popular love story here is none other than the main love triangle, which is one of the most decent love triangles in literary history. Neither of the boys had a "forever one-sided love" because Katniss gave love to both Gale and Peeta equally; what she had done one is most likely what she would also have done to the other one if the same thing happened; if ever she didn't, there's usually a good reason/excuse for it... not because she's just being biased to the one she favors more. The boys, on the other hand, showed their undying love for her in absolute obviousness. They were straight to the point. They don't hide their jealousy, but jealousy didn't make them forget about their love nor make themselves angry with the other guy. In fact, they get along well and there had been times where they tell each other that the other will be the winner, not himself. They have a peaceful rivalry, and neither are forcing their feelings on Katniss. I wish other love triangles are like this.

I didn't seriously mind much on who Katniss ends up with, but I admit that I favored Peeta over Gale... simply because he's ranked higher in my favorite characters list compare to Gale, haha! I find Peeta's romance more romantic because he was in love with Katniss much longer than Gale had. I also find find it difficult to compare Peeta's sacrifices for Katniss' sake compare to Gale's.... because Peeta really did a lot more! What I find most remarkable with Peeta is that he managed to protect the girl he loves.... even though he's no fighter type.

He's in fact the peace-loving boy and the artist type. He's such a nice guy and really terrific with words. I don't know how many times i had called him genius! Haha! It made me so sad when I read about the parts when he's in pain. I feel even sadder when I see Finnick and Cinna in pain, because those are the only two characters whom I like more than Peeta.

At first I thought Finnick was just a playboy, but when I found out that he isn't what he seems and is actually a pretty nice guy, I changed my opinion of him. Much more when I found out that he's also awesome and adorable 24/7. Haha! I find it pretty romantic that he's in love with someone.... not mentally stable. I mean, he treasures someone who's very vulnerable... and practically useless. I'm not saying that a kickass dude x helpless girl is my ideal romance.... but the way Finnick loved her... and knowing that this girl used to be a survivor of the Hunger Games... I'm sure there's something more in their relationship. Unfortunately we just weren't able to know more details about it. Ehehe.

Now as for Cinna, he may not have much role in the trilogy, but his little acts and words already gave me so much impact. This guy is BRILLIANT and really LOVABLE in whatever he does. It's like how Katniss got captivated with him.... this guy is just difficult to hate no matter how little he says. He's a stylist, and what he designs aren't just pretty and very creative.... but they also have meanings and purposes. In his own way, he fought for what he thought is right and helped those he had loved.

When something tragic happened to Cinna, however, I didn't cry.... because I already expected it. I honestly didn't cry at all as I read the books.

Why? Simply because I didn't want to make the books wet because... I just borrowed them! Haha! Another reason is because I finished the novels after midnight... and I need to sleep as soon as possible because I need to be early the next day. Crying would only delay my sleep. Only then I realized how good my self-control had been when it comes to that.

But the tears started the next morning, when I was recalling what I've read as I left home. It's embarassing to cry in public so I advise you not to think of the sad scenes of the Hunger Games while outside, okay? Ehehehe.

Anyway, I haven't been this hooked to a novel series since the Harry Potter phenomenon. I highly look forward to its upcoming movie. Hopefully it would be able to live up to the book's glory!

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