Everyone’s reviewed The Hunger Games. It’s time someone reviewed the setting, specifically, mine.*
I take the book and head to my bed, attempting to worm my way in between the edge and my dog, who is grumpy and doesn’t want to be disturbed. I’m left with about eighteen inches of blanket between him and the edge of the covers, so I draw a throw over the exposed parts and start reading. I soon find myself lost in imagining the hardscrabble life of District 12 and wondering if the ‘meat-eaters’ Katniss refers to outside the fence mean zombies. I hope so, but I’m doubtful, because otherwise the reviews would have mentioned zombies. Most reviewers don’t just forget to mention something like that in a review if the book has them. Like vampires, they are hard to ignore. So she probably means cougars and such. Oh well. Still, note to self: look out for ‘meat eaters.’
Katniss’ has just the sort of self-reliance and composure I love to see in a character. I understand her anger at her mother, although I sigh a little at yet another female who has an Oedipus complex. I am glad that Prim is used to humanize her, even if it is a tried and true technique. I find myself interested in Buttercup, the antagonistic, ill-named cat. Still, my own canine Buttercup isn’t budging, despite my attempts to gradually use my leg as a wedge to drive him further toward the middle of the bed. I’m getting colder, since the throw isn’t compensating for the house cooling. Since it is late and I’m cold, I decide a hot bath would be just the setting for the next stage of the journey.
Alas, while the water is satisfactorily warm to start with, it never reaches the truly steaming temperature that is worth a prolonged soak. I try to read quickly. Leaving the District, headed toward the Capitol, and the wider world in this post-apocalypic setting is becoming clear, as well as Collins starting to detail revolutionary underpinnings. Still, it’s subtle, and I rather like that in a book, especially a teen one. The city setting is unsurprising, although it seems like quite a tech contrast from the districts, and the connection Katniss develops with the understated stylist Cinna is warming. I wonder if he is supposed to be referencing a real-world designer? Except all the ones I’ve heard of seem quite flamboyant. I wonder if Collins is trying to say something about character in the city? It is here, immersed in rapidly cooling water that I wonder a bit if I’m reading too fast, because I find myself hitting more areas that I don’t think Collins explained and I find it a little odd when Katniss suddenly drops these bits of knowledge for the reader. Except why does she seem clueless at times? But despite running more water, the bathwater isn’t getting much warmer, so I can’t be bothered to go back and re-read to see if I missed some subtle hint. I’m a little irritated from being chilled, so it’s time to get out before I start picking further at the story.
Changed into pajamas, dogs sprawled on the bed but with a spare third left for me. I weasel my way under the covers and nudge a dog aside. The contestants have entered the arena, poised in their metal circles. The writing is done well enough to give a sense of place and yet pull action forward. The firewall unleashed by the gamemasters seems a bit unfair and reminds me of (insert any reality show here) but it reminds me I have a heating pad in the bed, so I turn it on to warm me up faster. The action in the arena is captivating, and is isn’t until Katniss is hallucinating that I realize I am also experiencing a bit of double-vision. My new bookshelf arrived yesterday, and it didn’t get more than a day to air out before I impatiently hauled it inside, spending a number of happy hours rearranging my books. Unfortunately, it had been so tightly wrapped that the stain hadn’t really finished out-gassing, and I was starting to get headachey. As Katniss tried to recover, I decided timing was right for my own move. Besides, I knew she would survive–it’s a trilogy. I turned on the ceiling fan and headed to the living room where there was a nice thick comforter and couch just waiting for me.
Wrapped up in the comforter, I prepared to finish the book. I liked the way Collins gradually brought about Katniss’ political awakening. Using Rue was a particularly smart move that helped it feel organic with character and story. No zombies–I don’t think, although that appears to be a question for another time. I certainly understand complaints about the nature of the games and how Collins wrote herself a number of very easy ways out of a truly ethically ambiguous situation, and I confess that goes against my story preference. I find myself agreeing with Jocelyn’s emphasis on the story as a fairy tale. Still, in that context, it was enjoyable and well-paced, if not riveting.
And, after all, I was finally warm, snug in the feather comforter with only hands and head exposed.
Three and a half warm stars.
*Edit thoughtfully provide by Richard.