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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > Hunger Games **Spoilers likely**

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message 1: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Happy July, Chicks!

I hope those of you that have read The Hunger Games will join us for our chat. Anyone should feel free to ask discussion questions.

I do ask that people refrain from talking about Catching Fire, as some people may not have read it yet and I'd hate to spoil it for them. If you can't remember if something happened in HG or CF, send me a private message and I'll try to help you figure it out so you don't accidentally spoil something. Thanks!!


message 2: by Jennifer W (last edited Jul 01, 2010 04:18PM) (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments First questions:

General impressions? Was this book what you expected?

If you've only recently read The Hunger Games, what kept you from it? The subject matter? Its Young Adult label? That you don't care for hyped books? Something else?

The Hunger Games are treated like a festival. They are a literal demonstration of the revolt of the districts and the Capitol's total power over them. What holidays or events around the world do we act out (literally or figuratively) to remind us of our "Dark Days" or sacrifices made?


message 3: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
The book was all I had hoped for. I am a big fan of dystopian fiction though, so when I heard talk about this book last year (when I read it) I knew it was right up my alley. :o)

As to the second part of your question, hmm...
I suppose all the Civil War battle reinactments that are held are a way of reminding us of some of the USA's dark days. At least in our reinactments, it is all fake and nobody gets killed. Interested to hear what other examples people think of.


message 4: by AJ (new)

AJ (anersword) | 121 comments I really enjoyed this book (read it last year). I'm a huge fan of YA because it just seems so much more creative in a genearl sense. One thing the author did really well was set the character Katniss very well in the first few pages and she kept her in character and true to form the entire book.

To answer you second question, I think Thanksgiving is a perfect example of this - we are celebrating the generosity of the indigenous poeple who saved us from starvation - only to turn around and murder, pillage, infect them with diseases on purpose, herd, and steal their land right out from under them. It's an autrocious rememberence.

Bastille day is another one off the top of my head.

Good questions!


message 5: by Elena (new)

Elena | 129 comments I tried this book some time ago and had to stop reading because of the subject matter. It was too disturbing and intense for me. I intend to try it again, given all the good reviews and the fact that it seems like a book I would like. Maybe I was not in the mind to read that kind of thing before.


message 6: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (Reading is Better With Cupcakes) (imjustcupcake) I just read it last month. The reason I didn't read it? I just hadn't given it much thought. Then I threw it in for a challenge because I had seen the book at work... Wow. It is now currently my favorite book ever.


message 7: by Jenny (last edited Jul 01, 2010 10:52AM) (new)

Jenny (narcisse) | 209 comments The first thing I thought when I started reading it was, "Oh God, first person present tense." It had me worried that the book would be kind of awkward, because I think it takes a really good writer to pull that off without somehow screwing it up. But Suzanne Collins did a really wonderful job with it, and I am glad because, for a book that has such an intense subject matter, to be able to write it well in an equally vehement POV and tense made it that much more amazing. It's so much more horrifying when you're reading it like it's happening RIGHT NOW and it's in first person so it's like you're right there witnessing it. If she had done it in third person past or even first person past it would not have the same effect at all. It was a bold, brilliant decision, imo.


message 8: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) Good point Jenny, I read this book a few weeks ago and I found it be very exciting and really quite terrifying - perhaps even more so as everything is very immediate, you feel you're living the whole experience with Katniss.

Thinking of your question Jennifer, the celebration that immediately springs to my mind is Guy Fawkes night - I'm not sure to what extent it's celebrated outside of UK but to elaborate... In 1605 there was a plot to blow up the House of Commons, Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar of parliament with alot of gunpowder and was subsequently caught, tortured and executed. So every November 5th, we celebrate by BURNING AND EFFIGY of him on a bonfire and then fireworks. It never occured to me how this is actually quite a grusome thing to do until I took my kids to a bonfire last year and was obliged to explain it!


message 9: by Monica (new)

Monica (imelda85) I loved this book! I was on the edge of my seat the whole story and I loved all of the characters. I couldn't put it down!

I'm actually embarassed that it took me so long to start this trilogy! I decided to give YA another chance in 2010. I lost my faith in YA with the Twilight series (sorry Twilight fans!) and I was a bit reluctant to read anymore YA literature. My faith was restored with The Book Thief and now The Hunger Games! The YA label can be deceiving! :)


message 10: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) I really enjoyed this book. I had a really hard time putting it down, I couldn't wait to see how everything turned out in the end. I usually do not read YA, but this is a book I would definitely recommend.


message 11: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I am glad there is hope too Moncia. I didnt get into the Twilight series either but do love the movies. I hear good things about The Book Thief so I am definatley going to have to get to that one.


message 12: by AJ (last edited Jul 01, 2010 01:47PM) (new)

AJ (anersword) | 121 comments Em wrote: In 1605 there was a plot to blow up the House of Commons, Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar of parliament with alot of gunpowder and was subsequently caught, tortured and executed.

"Remember remember the 5th of novemeber...." V for Vendetta is one of my favorite movies.


message 13: by Britt☮ (last edited Jul 01, 2010 05:14PM) (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Ok, wow, I blew through this book in a day. I love YA fiction (not Twilight) and I'd been wanting to read The Hunger Games for a while, but what stopped me were the reviews that said it ended on some giant cliffhanger. I have no problem with a cliffhanger ending if I can get the sequel right away — but at the time, the second book wasn't available for Kindle, so I figured I'd wait to read the first book.

The way people were talking I was dreading that the book would end in the middle of the Games before we find out who won (I was so nervous when I got to the 90% mark and there were still four competitors left!). Yes, she left some questions unresolved at the end and clearly set the stage for a sequel, but it's definitely not as "OH MY GOD, HOW COULD YOU SUZANNE?!" as I was expecting.

I'll have to think about that second question...


message 14: by Laura (new)

Laura (thatlibrarianlady) This book truly surprised me. When I read the synopsis I was really unsure about it. Eventually, I caved because there was just so much hype. I usually end up liking books that are hyped up. So I read it. And I loved it. I immediately read Catching Fire. I can't wait for Mockingjay.

I realized quickly that the books were not what I expected. I love Katniss and Peeta, and falling in love with characters is the thing that gets me hooked. I think this series is very refreshing. No vampires or paranormal creatures. And the story is just incredible.

The only thing I'm not convinced of yet is the relationship between Katniss and Gale. There's barely anything about them in the book so it doesn't get established. I have a very hard time understanding her feelings when I have no reference for it.


message 15: by Gillian (new)

Gillian | 618 comments I really enjoyed this book. I didn't read it until recently because, honestly, I didn't know about it, so the hype did not influence me. I really enjoyed the character development and the suspense. I thought the way the author dealt with the deaths was very creative and only somewhat disturbing, if that is even possible.

I love the comment that the book says about our culture and reality TV- even though it takes place in the future, it is reality TV in its most absolute distasteful and extreme form.


message 16: by Britt☮ (new)

Britt☮ (genki_bee) Laura Ashlee wrote: "The only thing I'm not convinced of yet is the relationship between Katniss and Gale. There's barely anything about them in the book so it doesn't get established. I have a very hard time understanding her feelings when I have no reference for it."

I actually felt the opposite. Its simplicity keeps the book from feeling too love triangle-y. All we need to know to get their relationship is that they learned to survive together. Even when they had nothing, they had each other. It's a bond that goes deeper than friendship, but until Peeta confessed his feelings and the Gamemakers started playing up the romance angle, she never had to put a label to what she has with Gale.

Gale's reaction was probably the most frequent thing I thought about throughout the book. I found myself constantly wondering how he'd react watching the romance between Katniss and Peeta... would he feel angry and betrayed? Or would he be able to tell that Katniss was only doing what she had to to win?

Even though he doesn't appear throughout most of the book, I felt his presence in every scene.


message 17: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) Poor Gale! I sympathised with his suffering on alot of levels - losing Katniss to these barbaric games and possibly death, watching her fall in love with Peeta (whether he believed it or not would be a body blow)and meanwhile the day to day of providing food and preventing his (and her) familiy from starving.

I felt the presence of Gale in the same way as Katniss - so much is happening, there's no time to spare a thought to much else but then a nagging voice, a vague feeling of worry about him. I thought these conflicted feelings were the more believable because she is quite naive. Whilst left to their own devises it seems likely they would be together eventually, her thoughts weren't quite at that place, nothing was overtly said between them so there's uncertainty.


message 18: by Emily (new)

Emily | 269 comments Britt - I'm with you. One of the reasons that I didn't read it right away is because it's one of 3, and the 3rd one isn't out yet. I read this about 3 months ago, and just finished Catching Fire. Another reason is because I'm not really into futuristic novels. Suzanne Collins does a good job with her writing and tenses to make us feel as if this is happening now, and not sometime in the future.


message 19: by Rebecca (last edited Jul 02, 2010 06:06AM) (new)

Rebecca Emily good point and so true about event happening now. The opening ceremonies described reminded me alot of the Olympic games in the U.S.A. The beauty remake center totally captured now. We never seem to be happy with our bodies, always plucking, waxing, lipsuctioning. Isn't there always a product for this or that, try this or that.

Not finished with the book yet but right now my though on Gale seem to be mostly friendship. He doesn't seem as bonded to Katniss as emotionally or physically as Peeta does nor does he seem to awake those same feelings in Katniss. I do see Gale as being a big help to Katniss getting through the games. I have loved the reflections of her father. I think he is also helping her alow and the author letting us know that he will always be with and a part of Katniss.


message 20: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Great comments everyone!

Since Rebecca brought it up, let's talk about the parade and interviews. What's the point of getting them all dolled up? What did you think of Katniss' beauty team? Why spend the time making them look good, why not just go straight to training?


message 21: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments well they wanted the public to know the contestants. It's like when the Olympics are on. They interview those contestants so we the public can bond with them and develop a liking.


message 22: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) Or like Big Brother, they always arrive glammed up and costumed don't they? It seems to me that they're establishing personalities/personas for the viewers - primarily those inhabiting the capitol who are absolutely obsessed with the aesthetic. I thought the media circus echoed the 5 minutes of fame that BB housemates (or other reality show contenstants) generate.

Her beauty team seemed pretty vacuous to me, excepting the designer - (aghh what's his name again?) who is talented and creative without doubt but seems to have more about him with regards to strategy and politics. He's a big support and a good friend to Katniss.


message 23: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments I can't think whar his name is either. I liked him though.


message 24: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) Cinna! Just came to me...


message 25: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments yeah, I liked him.


message 26: by Emily (new)

Emily | 269 comments I think it was also to help get support of the people in the Capitol (since it seems as if the Capitol is a district in and of itself), and sponsors. At least it seems to me that the more sponsorship and "gifts" Haymitch could get them, the better.


message 27: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments You won't get sponsors if you aren't well liked.


message 28: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Hmmm, now that I'm thinking about this, I am thinking that getting them dolled up, and the ceremony, was all for the Capitol. It's almost like the Capitol was it's own country (compare it to the USA), and in this country people are obsessed with beauty, and the event itself was just for fun for them.
And the other districts were almost like other countries, like third world countries, where they had none of the wealth and their whole life was just to survive (think of poor countries where there is famine and death).

And the people in the Capitol were so caught up in their own lives and lifestyle, that the other districts really had no value or meaning to them.

Not sure that makes any sense. Just thoughts that were going through my mind, and how if would compare to the values we have today in developed countries compared to poor third world countries.


message 29: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I adore Cinna. So why don't they show the trainings? It seems like you could get more sponsors if you were more likely to win, but all they see of that is the 1-12 score that the tributes get. I don't have an answer, I'm just wondering.


message 30: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (last edited Jul 02, 2010 12:50PM) (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Do you think they really care in the Capitol about sponsors and training and the fact that these are real people who are dying? Or are the people in the Capitol so far removed from the reality of it all that the whole thing is just a big game for them, only there for the entertainment value?

If it's just a game, then they wouldn't care about the training, because the whole thing would just be a for fun, beauty contest/popularity contest there to entertain them.


message 31: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) I get why the participants don't reveal to each other what their main skills/strengths are but you're right they don't show the public. Element of surprise maybe?!


message 32: by Laura (new)

Laura (thatlibrarianlady) Britt☮ wrote: "Laura Ashlee wrote: "The only thing I'm not convinced of yet is the relationship between Katniss and Gale. There's barely anything about them in the book so it doesn't get established. I have a ver..."

I can understand what you mean, but I just didn't read it that way. I wish I had. I think I would feel a lot differently about the series thus far if I had.


message 33: by Laura (new)

Laura (thatlibrarianlady) The capital doesn't care about the training, just like we don't really care about watching a gymnast train for the Olympics. We only care about the competition itself. They are the same way. They like beauty and fame and excess. They're not worried about how all of them got there, they're just there to see the show.


message 34: by AJ (last edited Jul 02, 2010 03:28PM) (new)

AJ (anersword) | 121 comments Don't the interviews just bring a certain level of ridiculousness to the whole thing for you? It did for me -- not regarding the book itself, but in it's reflection of our own society: the reality shows, the way people play off of each other, the lines and drama they feed the cameras. I dislike those shows a lot so I am rather biased but I think the books made a huge statement on what our culture values in terms of entertainment, aesthetics, and celebrity addiction.


message 35: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Great point AJ. I also dislike reality shows. The most interesting part of the book for me was watching the conflict that Katniss and Peeta faced. On one side they wanted to hold on to who they were as individuals. Both not wanting to kill or to pretend to be what they were not. At the same time they both had a strong will to survive. A part of the book that really shows this is when Thresh saves Katniss' life. Afterwards she thinks to herself "I don't want Cato to kill Thresh. I don't want anyone else to die. But this is absolutely not the kind of thing that victors go around saying in the arena." I think Suzanne Collins did a great job of showing this constant struggle they had between compassion and survival.


message 36: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments I dislike stupid reality shows. When I was reading this book, I felt like I was watching a barbaric version of Survivor.


message 37: by Gillian (new)

Gillian | 618 comments AJ wrote: I think the books made a huge statement on what our culture values in terms of entertainment, aesthetics, and celebrity addiction..."

Yep. Totally agree with this statement. I thought the book was so smartly written as a YA book but also included these very adult themes.

I loved this book. I can't wait to read Catching Fire- I am #2 on the list at the library.


message 38: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I found this one from an online list of discussion questions:

How does the fact that the tributes are always on camera affect their behavior from the time they are chosen? Does it make it easier or harder for them to accept their fate?


message 39: by Laura (new)

Laura (thatlibrarianlady) What an interesting question. I think it depends on the person. As Katniss explains the people in Districts 1 and 2 train for this kind of thing. They look at it as an honor and I think growing up with that kind of attitude about the games would keep them from really caring about the cameras. They're just ruthless individuals who have been raised to accept the games for what they are. But tributes from the districts farther away from the Capitol see it as an injustice. Not only that, but they understand a lot about how the Capitol will react to things they do and what they will or will not show. Katniss talks about this when she spreads flowers all around Rue. She doesn't do it so that it will be seen by everyone, but as a message to the Capitol, just as she decides to kill herself with Peeta at the end as a message. I think if a tribute understands the Capitol and cameras, they can use them to their advantage. She does the same thing when she plays up her romance with Peeta for food and medicine. As far as accepting her fate, I don't think Katniss ever lied to herself about what was happening when she became a tribute. She reminds herself constantly that there can only be one winner. She tortures herself over it while she's helping Peeta. It seemed to me that they all understood and accepted what was happening to them. I think the survival instinct probably did it for a lot of them. No one wants to lay down and die. But it's hard to get in other people's heads when the book is told from her point of view.


message 40: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) I thought that being on camera and the intinery of beauty, styling and media was a distraction from their eventual fate so in someways meant they didn't have so much time to dwell on it. Even so, certainly in the case of Katniss and I think Peeta (from their meeting on the rooftop) the thought of what is soon to come is lurking in the back of their minds throughout it all. To some extent their behaviour in front of the camera directly affects their chance of surivival doesn't it? They need sponsors to provide gifts so it's in their interest to perform well. I'm not sure if that makes it easier or more difficult though.


message 41: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Hope everyone had a great 4th!

Also from the discussion guide:

Before the Games start, Peeta tells Katniss, " . . . I want to die as myself . . . I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not." What does this tell you about Peeta? What does he fear more than death? Is he able to stay true to himself during the Games? Does this intent to stay true to himself conflict with his joining the careers?


message 42: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments I think Peeta doesn't want to become a killer because that's is what you are doing, killing the other contestants. An event like that changes a person and he is afraid he will lose his true identity. I think he shows his humanity and he is afraid of losing that because once he loses that it is difficult to get back.


message 43: by Beth A. (new)

Beth A. (bethalm) Correct me if I'm wrong, I read Hunger Games about a year ago, but I thought Peeta only joined the careers to be in a position to protect Katniss. Which seemed to me to be in line with his true self.


message 44: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments I thought he was selected.


message 45: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) That was my understanding as well Beth, that he joined the careers to keep them away from Katniss but they'd have to accept him too - they must've felt him useful or else he'd be killed by them!

I think his intention to stay true to himself doesn't conflict with his decision to join the careers because his motivations remain true. I think it does show that while he doesn't want to be manipulated by the capitol he is less concerned with how the people watching perceive him than with his over-riding wish of not having Katniss be killed.


message 46: by Jena (new)

Jena (outlanderfan74) I would have avoided this book completely, based on its"young adult" label. But I'm so glad I decided to read it, because of the recommendation of a friend and its appearance on this club's to-read list. Hunger Games was much more than i expected, and I came away from it with the idea that young adult fiction is definitely not what it used to be. I mean that in the most complimentary way! It's a suspenseful, provocative book that respects the intelligence of its young readers.

Suzanne Collins drew a perfect parallel between her fictitious world, and the world of our modern TV reality shows. I could easily see us going The hunger Games route in forty or fifty years, if we as media consumers don't get a grip on our obcessions with celebrities, beauty, bloodthirst, shock factor, and scandal. These are all things we seem to demand from the media.


The pre-game interviews make sense to me, from the standpoint that The Capitol wanted viewers to get attached to the contestants. The interviews provided the opportunity for the audience to connect and identify with one or more of the contestants. For example, "I hope this one wins; she's shy like me." Or, "He needs to lose; I can't stand cocky contestants."


I think Peeta fears losing his soul, far more than he fears losing his life. He may be my favorite character in the book. I like Catniss a lot, but Peeta shows a quiet strength of character throughout his life, dating all the way back to the "loaf of bread" incident. I believe he stayed true to himself, because he only joined the careers to protect Catniss.


message 47: by Aimee (new)

Aimee (akbaum) Peeta was my favorite character too, Mirage. I would have liked to have read the story from his point of view as well. I found myself often wondering what he was thinking or feeling.


message 48: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm glad you read this book, too, Mirage. I'd strongly encourage you to find some other YA books that might appeal to you, because there is some really good stuff out there. I'd recommend The Book Thief or Graceling, they're both wonderful books.

I looked up the section on Peeta joining the Careers...

"The Career tributes are silent until he gets out of earshot, then use hushed voices.
"Why don't we just kill him now and get it over with?"
"Let him tag along. What's the harm? And he's handy with that knife."...
"Besides, he's our best chance of finding her.""

Interpret as you will.

What about Rue and Katniss' collaboration? What was gained by that relationship? How did Katniss deal with the fact that at least one of them had to die? What statement did Katniss make by staging Rue's burial?


message 49: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4858 comments I do recall that passage with Peeta joining the careers. As to the Katniss and Rue alliance. I don't think Katniss set her up to die. Rue was pretty young and inexperienced.


message 50: by Jenny (last edited Jul 06, 2010 12:46PM) (new)

Jenny (narcisse) | 209 comments I loved Rue! And Peeta is also one of my favorites, along with Cinna. I adore Katniss, but a lot of times I become frustrated with her and her inability to see people sacrificing themselves to give her a shot at surviving.

This is my opinion on Peeta (sorry for the long post - it's a lot): He's been in love with her since they were 5 or whatever. The games are something of a continuance of the same for him since he would get himself hurt to help her survive even at the age of 11. I believe, once Katniss volunteered to fight in the Games, that Peeta wanted to be chosen. I don't recall everything about the reaping exactly, but I don't remember him being freaked out or afraid, only accepting. He wants to do anything he can to save Katniss.
He knew that admitting his love for her on TV would make people sympathize with her as well, and see her as a teenage girl who "lots of guys" want to date. It's a subtle way of reminding people that these kids aren't tributes; they're kids who were yanked away from lives in which people loved them.
In the second book it mentions Peeta getting in with the Careers. So you'll find out slightly more then. Though it still doesn't really explain much about the motive. I believe his motive had several parts: to keep an eye on them and help Katniss escape them if necessary, and also to survive as long as he could. The longer he lives, the longer he can help Katniss, but he doesn't want to die either, especially not before he knows she's safe (imo).
He doesn't want to lose himself in the games. He doesn't want to be a murderer, but he also wants to show them some sort of defiance. He started down that road with his confession of love for another tribute. He subtly started making people feel the sadness of these kids' loved ones. And for the first time they are seeing that even winning might be something awful.
He also refrains from being a murderer, in my opinion. Two people die by his hand, but one of them has been stabbed or beaten to the brink of death already. Peeta probably put her out of her misery by cutting her throat (a scene that isn't even shown - we can possibly assume it really happened, or we can wonder if maybe he sat with her till she died like Katniss and Rue, or any number of other possibilities). Either way, I don't see that as a murder. And Foxgirl taking his poison berries that he was silly enough to plan to eat himself isn't murder, just foolishness on both of their parts.
Peeta is amazing. He is totally self-sacrificing. This makes me nervous for his longevity. These inherently good and pure characters rarely survive books! I will keep my fingers crossed for him! lol

Gale I feel tremendous sympathy for. It must be AWFUL sitting there watching the girl that you love fighting to survive, killing, kissing another boy, sacrificing her safety to attempt to save said boy and almost dying for it, threatening suicide, all while you hunt alone without her to feed your family and hers. Collins does an amazing job of reminding us what Gale must be going through without having to cut away to his pov. Yet, I think Katniss's love for him is more brotherly than romantic. Any guilt she feels is because she suspects his feelings for her are stronger and she doesn't want to hurt him. Even though she rejects the possibility of Peeta, I get the feeling she is denying herself happiness, partly because she doesn't want a family and kids to raise in this type of dystopic government. Also, when you get a first person narration, it is an unreliable source for truth. If she's lying to herself about her feelings, then she is lying to us about them.

I could go on and on about Cinna as well. For now I'll just say the dude is smart. He knows the Capitol people well enough to know how to manipulate him subtly and he does it. His motives are unclear, but you can tell that he is bordering on defiance with the rest of them.

What Katniss did with the singing Rue to sleep and the flowers was remind the Capitol that they weren't just contestants; they were scared kids, and that the Capitol could not make her forget her humanity or lose her respect for that humanity in others, even when they make her fight to the death with them.


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