Monday, February 20, 2012

the Hunger Games

Curiosity, and the hype surrounding the release of Mockingjay, the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy, got me to pick up copies of all three books back in 2010. I finished The Hunger Games in one sitting but stopped reading Catching Fire at the point where Katniss and Peeta leave District 12 for their Victory Tour. By then I'd found out -- from other sources, obviously -- what was going to happen and how it would all end, and I thought I would just depress myself by continuing to read the books.*

After watching the trailer for the upcoming Hunger Games movie, though, curiosity got the better of me again. I re-read the first book, went on to the second and third, and just fell in love with the whole thing. I'm usually a sucker for happy endings, but I'm actually glad this one's is bittersweet. And I usually like being able to draw a line between the good guys and the bad guys, but there is just enough ambiguity in these stories to make it all more real.

Katniss' disillusionment is particularly relatable, especially if you live in the Philippines, where most of the elected government officials cannot be trusted, and most of the church leaders too. Here, you can't put all your eggs in one basket or place utmost faith in one person; you have to use your wits and make decisions as you go along, just like Katniss did in the books.

In war, too, nobody really wins. One side just loses more. Even if it's a series for Young Adults, the Hunger Games books respect their readers enough to not sugarcoat. No one comes out unscathed or unscarred -- not perpetually peppy Effie Trinket, not unbelievably good Peeta, certainly not Katniss or Haymitch, and thankfully not President Snow or Coin.

But I also love that there is hope, always, in the books. There are no shortcuts for escaping one's unbearably dark place, and some people never make it out, but there is always hope for the next day being better than the last, and the next year being better than the one before, and the future being better than the past. In an utterly bleak landscape, sometimes that one yellow dandelion of hope is enough to keep you going.

Looking forward to the movies!

* I'm a coward that way. I also stopped watching War Horse when Albert and Joey got separated, even though I knew they would eventually find each other again, because I didn't think I could bear the intervening sadness or watching any of the horses get hurt. I went out of the room when Aivan continued to watch the film, but I did sneak a few peeks at Benedict Cumberbatch playing one of the cavalry officers.

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