The Hunger Games

REVIEW: The Hunger Games (2012)

After revisiting the books for the first time in about a decade it was time to revisit the films – many of which I probably haven’t seen since they were first released.

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games – a fight to the death on live TV until only one victor remains standing. When her younger sister Prim (Willow Shields) is chosen, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) as she and her male counterpart, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives.

From the outset it’s clear the difference between the Capitol and the Districts aka the haves and the have-nots. The Hunger Games opens with two men with brightly coloured hair and vibrant clothes talking about the Games and then cuts to District 12 where a woman screams and everything is bleak and grey.

Even before we get into the arena, the camera work is shaky and frantic. While it works in the arena, encompassing the fear and the adrenalin as the tributes fight to survive and quickly moving away from children’s bloody bodies allowing the imagination to fill in the gaps, in Katniss’s day to day life it feels jarring. I’m not one to feel queasy due to shaky cam, especially not when watching a film on my laptop, but some of the sequences in District 12 did make me feel funny and my eyes hurt due to the camera work.

Some of the most interesting moments in The Hunger Games comes from things we’d never have seen in the book as it was all from Katniss’s point of view. In the film, you get to see the Gamemakers, the people pulling the strings behind the scenes on their holographic screens as they set traps for the young competitors. Again, it goes to show that for people in the Capitol this is just entertainment or just a job but for the tributes it’s the worst time of their life.

I feel like there will be more to comment on performance-wise as the films progress but the likes of Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, and Toby Jones looking like their having a whale of a time. They all play citizens of the Capitol and are used to lives of luxury but Banks manages to ensure that Effie comes across as well-meaning if a bit insensitive as she’s never not on Katniss and Peeta’s side.

Jennifer Lawrence is really does a fantastic job at Katniss. She’s not the most expressive or potentially even likeable character as she’s had to have so much responsibility from a young age but Lawrence makes it work, showing the girl behind Katniss’s stoicism and the moments when she truly lets her emotions out, often when she’s with her sister or Rue (Amandla Stenberg), you truly feel what she’s going through.

Overall, The Hunger Games is a solid, though sometimes a little slow, adaptation and with stellar performances bringing to life such interesting characters it sets the franchise off on a good foot. 4/5.

Thoughts on… rereading The Hunger Games trilogy

Warning for vague spoilers for the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Over the last few months, I’ve been rereading the Hunger Games trilogy for the first time since I first read them around 10 years ago. I wasn’t intending to revisit the series but I was looking for an audiobook to keep me occupied on my way to work and found my library had the trilogy and it was narrated by Tatiana Maslany which is always a bonus.

When I read the trilogy the first time, I did really like it but I remember not being too impressed with the final book, Mockingjay, and how the series ended as a whole. I was never Team Peeta or Team Gale so that wasn’t the reason but as they were so similar, I thought Katniss would end up like Haymitch, bitter and alone, so any type of happy ending for her didn’t really work for me. Having reread the series now I like Mockingjay a lot more and I’m more content about Katniss’s “happy ending”.

As well as not having reread the books before, I’ve not watched most of the films since I saw them in the cinema so while I remembered certain big moments or things like how it ended, I didn’t remember how it got there and various character dynamics. So, in some ways it was like experiencing the story for the first time.

I really enjoyed rereading the trilogy with the benefit of hindsight too. Characters like Johanna Mason were mentioned in like the fourth chapter of the first book and when you don’t actually meet her until half way through the second. Also, as the books are in the first-person point of view, everything’s from Katniss’s perspective which can be both interesting and frustrating with the benefit of hindsight. There were so many times when I could see the rumblings of a rebellion, or what Haymitch or Peeta’s true intentions were thanks to my knowledge of the overarching plot but Katniss was oblivious more times than not. That’s not to say she’s dumb, she’s incredibly smart and impulsive but she’s not a tactician like those two, or like Gale. She has a single-minded focus on the people she cares about which is admirable but it means she’s a bit clueless about what’s going on around her and how she’s affecting it – consciously or not.

This could be because it’s been so long since I’ve read the books/watched the films but I think took in a lot more of the nuances of the story this time round. For instance, I’d completely forgotten about what Finnick had to do once he’d won his games so that was like a sucker punch when I got to that reveal. Also, I don’t know if it’s down to being older or having read a lot more books about tougher topics since, but I think I could comprehend and sympathise with Katniss’s trauma a lot more this time round. She, and so many other characters but especially the other Victors, go through so much it’s no wonder they have PTSD and at times their minds just shutdown because they can’t cope with the reality of their situation.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed revisiting the trilogy and they are all 5 star reads – though Catching Fire is still my favourite. I’ve not read the spin-off/prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes yet but I’m waiting for the audiobook to be available at my library. I’ve heard mixed things about it but after rereading the original trilogy I’m interested in seeing what Suzanne Collins did with a prequel. I’m also planning on rewatching (and possibly reviewing) the films too. Like the books, I remember enjoying the films and I think they were good adaptations so it’ll be interesting to see if that perception stays the same.

Have you read or reread the Hunger Games trilogy recently? Or seen the films? I always get a little apprehensive when revisiting a book or film I have fond memories of but I’m pleased in this instance I wasn’t disappointed upon reread.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022

We’re officially half way through the year so it’s time for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! I do enjoy doing this tag and taking a moment to check in on my reading goals and seeing how I’m doing with them. I am doing far better with my reading this year compared to this time last year so that’ a huge positive.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2022
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
I absolutely adored this book. It’s about art and culture and is about art heists and who museum artifacts should really belong to – the international museums where people can see it, or the country the artifact was originally stolen from. Then there’s the Fast and Furious vibes with a uni student being a street racer but also the found family vibes.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2022
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I haven’t read any new-to-me series this year and have instead been rereading the Saga graphic novel series and The Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve been rereading The Hunger Games on audio from my library, and I haven’t reread Mockingjay yet (my hold comes in later this month) but I was blown away by Catching Fire. I haven’t read the series since the first time I read it about 10 years ago (read the trilogy just before the first film came out) and haven’t seen the films recently either so it’s fun to see what I remember and noticing the foreshadowing now I know how it ends though not necessarily how it gets there. I was surprised by how much happened before it was even announced that former victors would be going back into the Games. So much setup and character work and the alliances that Katniss isn’t really aware of are so interesting and then the Games themselves are thrilling. I honestly think Catching Fire is one of the best sequels ever.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases as I’m so focused on my Read the World Project right now. That being said, I remember seeing When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill everywhere on Twitter when it was due to be released and it definitely sounded like a book I’d like. I don’t have a copy yet (will probably wait till it’s in paperback) but it’s something I am looking forward to reading soonish.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Likewise, I’m often unaware of what books are coming out until I see them sitting in Waterstones. In the latest Top Ten Tuesday I saw The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Alias Emma by Ava Glass featured on a few blogs I visited and both of them sounded interesting, so I’ll try and keep my eye out for them when they are released.

5. Biggest disappointment
Angel Mage by Garth Nix
I love the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix and have read the other odd book by him when I was a teen but nothing outside of that series recently, so I was intrigued to see what I made of this standalone fantasy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I never really got attached to any of the characters and I don’t think I’d ever read something where the magic/fantasy aspects were so linked to religion (a kind of Catholicism religion) and that kind of weirded me out and I could never really get my head around the magic system. Plus, I didn’t realise this when I picked it up, but Angel Mage is sort of inspired by/a retelling of the Three Musketeers and that aspect was a bit jarring too. So overall, it just didn’t work for me and if I wasn’t reading it for the Magical Readathon I’d have probably DNF’d it.

6. Biggest surprise
Nina is Not Okay by Shappi Khorsandi
I don’t read contemporary books that often, or at least not contemporary books set in USA/UK (I’ll read any sort of book for my Read the World Project), so Nina is Not Okay which was one of the 12 Books recommended by 12 Friends books was a little out of my comfort zone. It’s about a teenage girl who’s an alcoholic and who may have been raped when drunk but she can’t remember. I found Nina is Not Okay fascinating and frustrating in equal measure and that was down to Nina as a character. She was so unlikable at times, and while I’ve thankful never had any real interaction with an addict, I feel it was a good depiction of their self-destructive tendencies and how there’s no helping someone until they actually want to help themselves. Enjoy would be the wrong word considering the subject matter, but I found the experience of reading Nina is Not Okay a powerful and important one which I didn’t expect.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Tété-Michel Kpomassie
I don’t really have a favourite new author (or favourite authors in general to be honest) as the only authors I’ve read multiple books from this year are Suzanne Collins and Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples which were both rereads. I will say though out of all the new authors I’ve read this year I’d like to read more from Tété-Michel Kpomassie. I don’t know if his written more travel memoirs, but I really enjoyed An African in Greenland and how he described the different people, places, and cultures he came across and learnt about.

8. Newest fictional crush
I don’t think I have one? Perhaps I’m getting too old for fictional crushes. Will Chen from Portrait of a Thief was certainly charming but neither he nor anyone else I’ve read about was really a crush.

9. Newest favourite character
Peeta Melark – The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Once again, I’m kind of cheating here as Peeta is neither new nor a favourite but he’s the closest fit for this question. I was never Team Peeta or Team Gale (always thought Katniss would end up like Haymitch/with him as platonic besties as they understood each other so well) but I’m definitely liking and appreciating Peeta so much more on reread. He’s so kind and loving and smart, and with hindsight seeing how he can manipulate the audience is a lot of fun.

10. Book that made you cry
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Even though it’s been almost 15 years since it was released, I won’t say too much because I’m nice like that when it comes to spoilers. I will say what made me teary-eyed was to do with a character called Rue and it did surprise me when it happened. I don’t think I had that reaction when I first read The Hunger Games 10 years ago but maybe now knowing how it starts a chain reaction and impacts other characters it hit me more on reread.

11. Book that made you happy
Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan
This is one of those books that if I’d started it earlier in the day, I would’ve read it in one sitting. I absolutely loved Blood, Sweat & Chrome and often found myself with a huge grin on my face with how various parts of the production of Mad Max: Fury Road unfolded. The language used made it feel like all the various members of the cast and crew were just talking to you about their experiences, and how it was put together made the story of how this extraordinary film got made flow really well. It was funny and interesting and I learnt so much about not only how Mad Max: Fury Road was made but filmmaking in general and how Fury Road was so different to a lot of mainstream Hollywood films – they didn’t even have a script with dialogue!

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
This Woven Kingdom by Tarereh Mafi
While I have acquired more books than I should’ve so far this year, there’s not many I’d call beautiful. I haven’t read This Woven Kingdom yet (and I’m not sure if/when I’m going to) but I received it in my now-cancelled Illumicrate subscription earlier this year and it’s definitely the most beautiful book I’ve got. It’s a naked hardcover with foiling and stencilled edges and I’s so different from the standard cover. I wouldn’t have picked up this book based on the standard UK cover, but this one is definitely more eye-catching.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
The end is in sight for my Read the World Project so that’s my focus. I have 11 books to read before the end of September (my new self-imposed deadline) which is totally doable and most of those books are featured in my latest TBR. I still need books for Tuvalu and Monaco so if you happen to know any writers from either of those countries who have work in English, please let me know.

Now for my reading stats. My goal is to read 52 books and review half of that and I’m at 40 books so I’m right on track with that – a long weekend away in a cottage plus some comics/graphic novels has certainly helped with that. I have read 7 of the 12 Books Recommended by 12 Friends challenge and I’m currently reading and very much enjoying book number 8 – A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
Slade House by David Mitchell
Himself by Jess Kidd
Nina is Not Okay by Shapi Khorsandi
John Dies at the End by David Wong
The Cabinent by Un Su Kim
They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera
Darius the Great is Not OK by Adib Khorram
City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

I like to have an equal split when it comes to reading books by men and women but at the moment it’s leaning towards more male authors. While most of the books I have left for my Read the World Project are by men, hopefully once that’s done and I read more different books on my TBR it’ll be more of an equal split. That’s because outside of my Read the World Project, my physical TBR does lean more towards women writers.

The genres I’ve read so far this year are a nice eclectic mix which I’m always happy about. Once I’ve finished my Read the Word Project, I’m interested to see what my taste is when it comes to genres because so much of what I’ve read for the challenge has been historical or non-fiction and I always thought I was a big fantasy fan but that’s not something I’ve picked up as frequently.

How has your reading gone for the first half of the year?

The Christmas Carol Book Tag

We’re almost halfway through blogmas so thought it was time for a Christmassy book tag. The Christmas Carol Book Tag was created by Lauren Wade on YouTube and I saw it over on Jess’s blog, Jessticulates. I read A Christmas Carol when I was in school, but when I think of the story, it’s the film Muppet’s Christmas Carol that always comes to mind.

The Ghost of Christmas Past – A book that was a childhood favourite
Love Street by Andrew Matthews
I think this is one of the first YA books I read and it was one I reread over and over again. It’s about a teenage girl who makes up her own soap opera in her head to deal with the stresses of friendship and relationship drama.

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Present – A recent book that you think will become one of your all time favourites
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
I read this book at the start of the year and I still think about it. It’s funny and heartfelt and it deals with such tough topics it can be equally infuriating and inspiring.

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – A book coming out next year that you’re most excited about
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
I’m so bad at keeping track of book releases but this in one I know about and will definitely be getting. I don’t particularly like the books title but I’m looking forward to going back into the world of The Hunger Games.

 

 

Bah, Humbug! – A book that everyone else loves that you just can’t stand
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I do get why people like this book and I did like the writing style but the story just didn’t grab me and I didn’t like the relationship and (albeit very small) hints at romance between the two main characters.

 

 

Bob Cratchit – An old dependable that you always recommend
Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
This is the prequel book to the first series of the TV show Luther but I still think it’s the kind of book that both fans and non-fans of the TV show would enjoy because it’s such a creepy and tense thriller.

 

 

Tiny Tim – An underhyped book that you think deserves more love
Safe as Houses by Simone can der Vlugt
I read this thriller earlier this year and it gripped me from beginning to end and it definitely deserves to be talked about more.

Today? Why it’s Christmas Day! – What’s a book that always gets you in the mood for Christmas (apart from A Christmas Carol)?
I don’t really read a lot of Christmassy books to be honest, nor do I reread a lot of books, but I do like reading comics and graphic novels on the run up to Christmas because they’re shorter and my brain likes to get in that more chilled out mood as Christmas is a time for relaxing.

The Muppet Christmas Carol – Your favourite film adaptation of a book
The Martian by Andy Weir
Book to film adaptations often get a bad wrap but there are a lot of good ones out there. While an honourable mention has to go The Lord of the Rings, I’m picking The Martian. It’s one of my favourite books of recent years and the film got so much right, the humour, the characters and the heart of the story. Plus, The Martian is just an endlessly rewatchable film.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Top Ten Villains

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. This week it’s all about villains and I’ve chosen to write about the most memorable villains I’ve ever come across, whether that’s because they really are despicably evil or for some other reason. So without further ado, here’s some great villains.

Professor Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
While Voldemort might be the main bad guy in Harry Potter, Umbridge is almost more terrifying because she’s so normal and the way she inflicts pain and restrictions is all within the rules of the law. She uses the system to her advantage and is a bigot who always believes she is right.

Nils Bjurman – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
This man is evil and manipulative who preys on people who he sees as weaker than him and who are dependent on him. He’s a rapist and a sadist and just really, really horrible.

Cruella de Vil – The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
I read The Hundred and One Dalmatians when I was about thirteen and I’d seen both the animated and live action films many times, but Cruella de Vil in the book was still super scary. (more…)

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Biggest Badasses

Top 5 Wednesday is a feature created by GingerReadsLainey. This is the first week I’ve taken part and I hope to continue with it because it’s a great little feature. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page.

So without further ado, here are my five biggest badasses!


lisbeth salanderLisbeth Salander – The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Lisbeth has a hard life but she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s a super smart and resourceful genius hacker who can fight men twice her size. Lisbeth will go to any lengths to sort out people who have wronged her or the few people she cares about. She’s just a total badass.

 

niko leandrosNiko Leandros – Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman
Niko is a very calm and put-together guy until a monster comes after his younger brother. Niko is a master at multiple martial arts, he can uses guns, knives and he usually has his Katana strapped to his back. You won’t want to go up against Niko in a fight.

 

 

sabrielSabriel – The Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix
Sabriel lives in a world where the dead can walk the earth and she has the power to stop them and send them back to where they came from. Controlling the dead is a seriously badass skill. Sabriel can also fight with a sword and practices powerful magic and is more than capable of looking out for herself and the world.

 

johanna masonJohanna Mason – The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Johanna survived two Hunger Games and when she found out she was going back into the Games for the Quarter Quell, she wasn’t afraid to tell people exactly what she thought about that. Johanna is a fighter, she was tortured but she still got up and wanted to fight against the Capitol. Also Johanna isn’t afraid to give people like Katniss the cold hard truth, she’s a survivor and a badass.

elizabeth bennetElizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
I’m actually reading Pride and Prejudice at the moment for the first time and I’m blown away by how much of a badass Elizabeth is. She might not be a fighter but she’s smart and in a battle of words she’s clever enough to show her adversary that she shouldn’t be looked down upon.

 

Who are your favourite bookish biggest badasses?

Bookish Unpopular Opinions Tag

I don’t think I’ve done a tag before, or at least not on this blog, but then I saw BFTReviews do the Unpopular Opinions Tag and I just knew it was the sort of thing I wanted to do. So without further ado here’s my unpopular opinions.

1. A popular book or series that you did not like.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I thought it was predictable (it had characters with cancer in it – someone was bound to die), it didn’t make me cry (it didn’t make me feel any strong emotion really) and I didn’t particularly like any of the characters – I liked Hazel’s parents but that was about it.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I really didn’t hate this book like everyone else seems to. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t incredibly invested in the characters but I really liked the ending, it was surprising and unusual to see the hero not get the usual happy ending and I liked that. (more…)

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I Wish Would Get Their OWN Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week – I’m thinking I might not take part every week but just see if a week takes my fancy. I love secondary characters, sometimes more than the main character, so this was the perfect Top Ten Tuesday for me as I always want to know more about minor or secondary characters.

photo 1Angela – The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini
I quite like not knowing much about Angela’s past but I think it would be cool to have a story about what she did after Galbatorix is defeated. I’d love to see her go on more adventures and get involved in other rebellions and excitements.

Robin Goodfellow – Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman
Robin Goodfellow is a very old puck so I’d love to read about his adventures before he met Cal and Nico in the twenty-first century.

Murtagh – The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Murtagh is such a tragic character. I’d love to have a book from his point of view about when he is captured by Galbatorix and how he came to be bounded with Thorn, his dragon. It wouldn’t be a fun story but I’d like to see what was done to him to make him turn against Eragon, but at the same time what made him stay strong and try to protect Nasuada.

(more…)