You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

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Group Themed Reads: Discussions > July Read: The Hunger Games - discussion led by Judy

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message 1: by Diana (new)

Diana | 23 comments Hehe, I got that feeling too... I felt it was a gruesome Big Brother :)


message 2: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Survivor comes to mind except one isn't simply voted off the island. The whole idea of alliances between contestants that will be broken once the field narrows down is right off the pages of Survivor.


message 3: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments One strong parallel with so-called reality shows is that it is not as real as it seems: it is rigged in all sorts of ways to keep the viewers watching. What makes the book particularly grim is that this includes gambling on the death of some children and sponsoring others.


message 4: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments In the same way that reality TV shows are rigged, the hunger games were also rigged. If there was a lull in the action, there was an artifical storm that pushed the kids into a specific area, or some other type of interference in the natural order. Since the book is Sci-Fi/Fantasy, there are a lot of things that are outside the natural order.

I agree, Cecily, with it being disturbing in that the contestants were children. I'm not an educator, so don't know the impact this would have on the teen readers. I would think that the overall theme - maybe more so in the entire series than in the first book - of good vs evil and good rising above and stamping out the evil would be the redeeming feature.

Perhaps we are jumping ahead and Judy will be asking us to discuss this indepth futher along.


message 5: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) I see the parallel in that the fascination follows with what we know of human nature. But the big difference for me is choice. Nobody goes on a reality show without wanting to be there. Many hope for fame or money to come out of their time on television. And willingly submit to the challenges.

The parallel works best in the districts with the "careers" (1,2,4) and in the capital. The people in those districts hope for fame upon winning and those in the capital just enjoy the games. All of this information is based on a first person narrative so it is likely that this isn't true of all in those districts or in the capital.

We only see the story through the eyes of a teenager from district 12, so it is hard to really judge those in the other districts. Going against the grain anywhere in this world, even in the better off areas, is dangerous so people are always going to be influenced bby their fear.


message 6: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Judy wrote: "did you sense parallels between our 1st and 3rd world lifestyles and the Districts in the book?"

Yes, very much. (I hope that wasn't addressed only to Shaina.)


message 7: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Yes, the lack of regret - and fear - was extraordinary.

I suppose they had become inured to it from watching it on TV every year, but on the other hand, that meant they knew the horror of it. I just didn't believe there was as little fear in them as there appeared to be.


message 8: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) I do see parallels between 1st and 3rd world and even between upper and lower class in other countries (my point of reference is the US).

As I thought about this I actually see a really interesting military parallel. The reaping seems a lot like the draft in the US during the Vietnam war and the mandatory military service in other countries. In the US the lower class makes up a disproportionate amount of people in the armed forces. And, again during Vietnam, the rich were often able to avoid the draft by attending universities.


message 9: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) Judy wrote: "Reaping should be a happy time for everyone to celebrate hard work and gathering of food. But the use of a good term to describe something more ominous isn't new to governments anywhere. "

The rest of the community does celebrate after the reaping, Katniss was preparing a nice dinner for her family to enjoy to celebrate not being picked. She and her family may not have been been able to enjoy it but I'm sure many do celebrate the fact that their family was spared. All of this happens while those closest to the chosen grieve


message 10: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments I see parallels between the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies (what I remember of it). It LOTF's, regular kids are marooned on an island and revert to a heirarchical system. In Hunger Games you have, not only a society that has reverted to the same type of perversive life and death games like the Romans, but normal teenagers who also create their own heirarchy of the strongest to the weakest.

Both books address the age old question of what is base human nature and is it corrupted?

As far as the fear or lack of fear demonstrated, I have a couple of insights.

First of all, in the oppressive life they led in the districts, death was just a heart beat away. The HG's were a way of bringing extra food to the family (the tessaries). The older teens fiercely protected their younger siblings from putting in for the extra handouts. That protection could have been based in fear. If you were starving, fear would have become second nature. What was to fear in the Games, when you were constantly faced with the threat of death?

Secondly, while participating in the Games, they didn't have time to be fearful. It would be like soldiers on the battlefield who enter into a "bloodlust" where to fear is to die. Fear is stuffed down in order to do the job they have to do.


message 11: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Janice wrote: "...As far as the fear or lack of fear demonstrated, I have a couple of insights.

First of all, in the oppressive life they led in the districts, death was just a heart beat away...

Secondly, while participating in the Games, they didn't have time to be fearful...."


Your first point is a good one, but I'm less convinced by the second. There were quite long quiet periods when nothing happened, but participants were waiting for they-knew-not-what - exactly the time you would expect fears to come to the fore.


message 12: by Cecily (last edited Jul 01, 2011 01:51AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Janice wrote: "I see parallels between the Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies..."

I agree, but although The Hunger Games is likely to have more appeal to modern teens, I think there are (at least) two crucial differences:

* In LotF one person's survival is not necessarily at the cost of everyone else's. (It is even possible that they could all survive.)

* LotF has much more depth and symbolism: it tackles original sin; the mystical "Beast"; leadership, tribal allegiance and group dynamics (including bullying and attitudes to difference and minor disability) and the importance of ritual and belief.

The second point is what makes LotF a better book, in my opinion.


message 13: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I wonder if gladiators had an influence when Collins wrote this. Although some gladitors were volunteers a lot of them were slaves who had no choice. They fought to the death as entertainment.


message 14: by Diana (new)

Diana | 23 comments I like the historical point of view... But what about the irony? In a future society, the powerful let children fight to death, for their own entertainment and to remind the districts who has the real power...
I mean, it's not happening like this in the real world,but the powerful industrial lands, do mastermind the poorer lands... like the influence of America in Irak a few years back, or Hitler and the Holocaust...
What I'm trying to say, that the idea of the Hunger Games in a future society, led by power-oriented people, isn't that farfetched, kind of...
And I do think that the Gladiators were an inspiration for the Hunger Games... especially since they brought out the muttations in the end...


message 15: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hannah_337) | 22 comments I really enjoyed the book. I've actually ordered the next two in the set to read as well. I saw it as a warped twist on Big Brother.

I didn't find it totally shocking, just very interesting, although there were several points I was glad the book was fictional.

I actually find it easy to believe, killing people when you know that if they had the chance, they'd kill you. Especially seeing the games every year. I'm 21 and oddly (and scarily) I can understand the lack of remorse. You never feel hate as much as when you're a teenager in my opinion.


message 16: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) If the book was insanely far fetched, it wouldn't be interesting. What makes stories like this so popular and interesting is the fact that given the right circumstances the story is believeable. The people in the story do things we know people are capable of. Humans act as humans even if the surroundings are different.

This fairly bleak world is in fact an easier place to live than our world has been for much of history. We have had many tyrranies and countless slaves in our history. I'd certainly prefer this world over life in Hitler's Germany (which isn't saying much)


message 17: by Alison (new)

Alison Forde | 269 comments I was pretty surprised by the contrast between technology available in the Capitol as opposed to the basic living standards in the districts, with lack of electricity etc. When I started reading a was assuming they were all living in a post apocalyptic world with few resources, but in fact the technology and resources were being monopolised by the Capitol. I guess this is much like a first world third world colonial split. The third world districts are forced to pay tribute to the ruling elite in the capitol by sending their children, to an unfair fight.
As to the game show - ever seen the movie Battle Royale - teenagers are forced to fight to the death - not a movie for the gore shy, but done with humour.


message 18: by Diana (new)

Diana | 23 comments What did you think of Katniss' relationship with her mother? Do you think her mother's more affluent (compared to everyone else's) u..."

Maybe so, butI guess that it kind of showed that Katniss had a more close relationship with her father, while Prim was more close to the mother... and then, her mother and father seemed to have a kind of "love of their live" relationship, so her state of grief is understandable... of course, the children should come first, but some women, even in real life don't cope well with losing someone very dear.
Another point, is that Katniss' mother is a healer, so she is more sensible, more close to the house etc, I don't really know how to put it into words... and Katniss is a hunter, she loves it, even if she HAD to do it to keep the family alive, she absolutely loves the wild, the adventure... her mother could never feel the void the death of her father has created.
But I think that through the process of the Hunger Games, Katniss has managed to forgive her mother, for the mere reason that she missed and loved her :)


message 19: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments I don't think there was much empathy between Katniss and her mother. Katniss was guilty of being a typical teenager who judges a parent without knowing the full story. She sees a woman unable to cope with her husband's death and who emotionally withdraws from her children.

She doesn't learn her mother's story until futher into the trilogy.


message 20: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hannah_337) | 22 comments Did anyone actually expect Katniss to lose?


message 21: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Not at all, especially with two books to follow up. :)


message 22: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) Definitely didn't expect Katniss to lose, but it certainly would have made for an interesting twist. Imagine if Prim ended up being drawn the next year or in a few years.

I wonder how we would feel if participation in the hunger games wasn't mandatory. Imagine if the kids could choose to compete. The winner is and his/her family are set for as long as he/she lives and the district gets extra food for a year. Many people risk their lives for less. Of course, were this the case, the games wouldn't keep the districts in line and in fear as much as it does now. This seems to be the way the districts with the careers think. I wish we knew more about the different districts. We know about 11, 12, and some about the capital. For the rest, we only know what Katniss knows or at least what she thinks she knows.


message 23: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hannah_337) | 22 comments The other districts become more involved in the next two books which I am working my way through.


message 24: by Cecily (last edited Jul 04, 2011 03:04PM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Hannah wrote: "Did anyone actually expect Katniss to lose?"

No, not for a moment, but I did think quite early on that she and Peeta would both survive. However, I thought they would escape or break the rules in some other way to achieve it.


message 25: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Shaina wrote: "I wonder how we would feel if participation in the hunger games wasn't mandatory. Imagine if the kids could choose to compete. The winner is and his/her family are set for as long as he/she lives and the district gets extra food for a year..."

That would be a really interesting angle - and rather more original than the story actually is.


message 26: by Alison (new)

Alison Forde | 269 comments I thought she would kill Peeta before the new rule was announced - although towards the end I guessed the new rule would be revoked and they would make some sort of protest to retain their humanity and beat the gamemakers. I'm wondering if an uprising is in the offing for books 2 & 3 - if it's more of the same I don't think I'd read any more.


message 27: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Alison wrote: "I thought she would kill Peeta before the new rule was announced - although towards the end I guessed the new rule would be revoked and they would make some sort of protest to retain their humanity..."

Is there an uprising in books 2 & 3? (view spoiler)


message 28: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments No. I think it was when she came to the house, starving, and he risked punishment to give her the burnt and blackened bread.


message 29: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) Well he said he loved her before then, first noticing her in kindergarten. She first noticed him at the bread incident. I think his father's stories certainly influenced his love for her. Peeta heard about Katniss' father's beautiful singing and then saw the same thing in Katniss. I don't know that he would have ever even noticed her if his father hadn't pointed her out.


message 30: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Judy wrote: " Question 3: Do you think Peeta's father's love for Katniss' mother influenced Peeta's love for Katniss? "

Eugh! That would be weird.


message 31: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments I'm going to have to read back a bit and will comment later tonight when I'm home from work.


message 32: by Cecily (last edited Jul 07, 2011 01:54PM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Judy wrote: "Janice wrote: "... this is one incident in the story that is a beautiful show of love, but strikes me as unlikely. These are mostly starving people who live to find food to live another day, but yet Peeta risks his Mother's wrath to feed a girl he doesn't know?..."

I agree; Peeta is too good to be true, especially given how young he was when the incident occurred.

On a related note, given that Katniss is a fairly ruthless hunter and trader in a society where death is always close, I thought she was quite a soft touch as well.

Also, as I've said before, I didn't see a plausible amount of fear in any of the contestants.

These are just some of the reasons why, even within the framework of the fictional world, the characters and their behaviour don't ring true for me.


message 33: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) Cecily wrote: "Judy wrote: "Janice wrote: "... this is one incident in the story that is a beautiful show of love, but strikes me as unlikely. These are mostly starving people who live to find food to live anothe..."

I see the bread incident working only if you assume that Peeta doesn't really understand that he is taking money/food from his own family. The bread his own family ate was often the less than perfect specimens. Other than that he lived a comfortable life, not like those in the Seam. I just assumed that he didn't see giving her the bread as hurting his family, and he may have hoped that he wouldn't be caught/punished. Had he known that he would get a beating things may have been different. He was a little boy with a crush so anything is possible.

I'd guess that the most fearful contestants died early on. I imagine that there might be some sort of defense mechanism where when you are in a constant state of fear and danger for nearly your entire life it becomes normal. People react in amazing and unpredictable ways when they or their loved ones are in danger.

They are almost animal like, some travel in packs, some perch in trees, there are always predators out there but they all do what they can to continue living.

The characters all felt very much like the teenagers they were.

I sometimes with it had been Katniss and Gale in the games. They were a really good team.


message 34: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments My take on Peeta's love...

I had to go back and reread bits and pieces. How quickly one forgets.

I still assert that Peeta wasn't influenced by his father's love for Katniss's mother. When Peeta asked his father why she wanted to marry a coal miner, he said that she fell in love with his singing. In school, Peeta heard Katniss singing, "and like your mother, I was gone." It was her singing that influenced him the most. His father simply pointed her out.

When Katniss came begging for bread, Peeta knew that he was going to be disciplined for burning the bread. He did it because he already loved Katniss and wanted to help her. I don't think the family ate the lesser quality of breads. It says in the story that he was well fed growing up and strong because he carried the bread trays around. If they ate the lesser quality bread, they would have eaten the burnt loaves. Instead, he knew his mother was going to tell him to throw them out to the pigs.


message 35: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) I don't think his father is why he loves Katniss, but I think his father pointing her out made him take special notice of her. Would he have noticed her or her singing if both her and the beauty of her father's singing hadn't been brought up to him? Why else would Peeta's father's love for Katniss' mother even have been brought up?

Katniss tells us that Peeta was well fed. He later tells Katniss that the fancy breads/cakes are “Too expensive for my family to eat. Unless it’s gone very stale. Of course, practically everything we eat is stale.” (p 309) He never went hungry as many in district 12 did but he wasn't living like a king.


message 36: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Shaina wrote: "I don't think his father is why he loves Katniss, but I think his father pointing her out made him take special notice of her. Would he have noticed her or her singing if both her and the beauty o..."

I agree that Peeta took first notice of Katniss because his father pointed her out. In my mind, it was her singing, though, that influenced Peeta and made him fall in love with her. Singing is a theme carried throughout the three books and this particular anecdote sets that up. Katniss's mother fell in love with Katniss's father because of his singing. Peeta fell in love with Katniss because of her singing.

Katniss tells us that Peeta was well fed. He later tells Katniss that the fancy breads/cakes are “Too expensive for my family to eat. Unless it’s gone very stale. Of course, practically everything we eat is stale.” (p 309) He never went hungry as many in district 12 did but he wasn't living like a king.

I only got as far as Katniss saying that Peeta was well fed. Thanks for pointing this out to me. His family may have eaten stale bread, but their food was adequate. I still think that he knew the burnt bread was going to go to the pigs, and that he would get smacked for burning it.


message 37: by Diana (new)

Diana | 23 comments Firstly, this is the best discussion I viewed, regarding a YA book!
And secondly, regarding the question, I don't think that Peeta's father has influenced his love for Katniss. He is such a good boy and he has a big heart. I know it is strange for District 12, but he is the boy who likes to do the frosting...
Plus, Katniss is very special in her own way, she is described as being beautiful, at least I imagine her to be and then she is so different from Peeta, she hunts to keep her family alive, she is strong and brave... for a teenage boy, those are some qualities in a girl to make you have a crush on her...


message 38: by Eleanora (new)

Eleanora (irishgirl1000) I can definitely sense a relation between Hunger Games and Survivor. In Survivor we are watching these people like hawks to see what they do. It is similar in the Hunger Games because in the Hunger Games people are closely watching the T.V. to see what the news is on who died and who is coming out on top.

They are different for the obvious reasons of life and death situations. Even though there is risk in the reality show of Survivor there is not guaranteeing death.

Also in Survivor there is one climate/atmosphere. In Hunger Games the atmosphere changes and the game people (I forget the term) can control what happens.

Overall they are two very similar and different things. But I think Hunger Games is very similar to the reality show Survivor.


message 39: by Shaina (new)

Shaina (shainaeg) It's not a choice to watch the Hunger Games. They are required watching and shown at school during the day. Everyone watching the games (outside of the capital) knows or at least is from the same place 2 kids who are in the games. Every year they watch kids including those they know be tortured and die. People in the districts with children probably fear that their children will end up in future games. Even in the districts where going to the games is an honor, the games aren't a choice. Even the well fed people of the capital would probably be risking their lives not to watch the games.

There is no game, no choice, not watching the games is risking your position and life.


message 40: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Here is a rather humourous review by Stephen King. I had to chuckle at his comment about how the producers of the movie were going to get a PG-13 rating. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20419...

I also like his description of the Young Adult designation.


message 41: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Eleanora wrote: "I can definitely sense a relation between Hunger Games and Survivor..."

I've never see "Survivor" (though obviously I have heard of it), but surely the fundamental differences are not just that contestants in "Survivor" do not fear for their lives, but that they are adults who have chosen to enter.


message 42: by Cecily (last edited Jul 10, 2011 02:05AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Janice wrote: "Here is a rather humourous review by Stephen King. I had to chuckle at his comment about how the producers of the movie were going to get a PG-13 rating. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20419951..."

I was glad to see that he picked out a couple of "displays of authorial laziness" that irked me too. I don't feel so bad for mentioning them in my review. The silver parachutes were particularly ridiculous. What's the point of hiding from your enemies if, at any time, something sent to help you could make your location obvious? Another was how (and why) would any of these participants be able to measure time to within half hour intervals?


message 43: by Tori (new)

Tori S (toris) | 15 comments " The Running Man, or The Long Walk (those latter two by some guy named Bachman"

Had a quick read to see if he was going to mention them ha ha! I like what he had to say, just like I love how much he loves Harry Potter. But I digress.


message 44: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I got the impression that he genuinely cared about the contestants, but I don't really know why I felt that way. I've read the second book now as well so I'm probably blurring the two together. He may just be goo at his job :)

I'm not sure if you would become jaded. I don't think we know why/how he is in that role. If he's being forced to do it then yeh I guess you could become jaded and emotionally involved. But if it's just a top presenting job that everyone wants in the Capitol, then I guess you'd be pretty strong and good at staying emotionally detached - like a doctor?

I'm rambling now!


message 45: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Stephen King's review is spot on by the way!


message 46: by Alison (new)

Alison Forde | 269 comments I just thought he was a cheesy presenter doing what he was paid to do.


message 47: by Janice, Moderator (last edited Jul 10, 2011 05:33PM) (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments His character makes me think of Richard Dawson in Family Feud. Wait! Richard Dawson was the tv announcer in The Running Man!! No wonder I made the connection. Whenever the story had CT in it, I thought of RD and thought cheesy.

Don't forget, this society was one based on these gladitor type games. I don't think there was a lot of emotion about people dying. They saw it as sport. We judge them based on today's ideals when we need to think, "What if? What would it be like to like in a society like that?"


message 48: by Cecily (new)

Cecily | 576 comments I don't think anyone could be as deeply involved in promoting the games as Templesmith and still retain compassion for the victims (contestants).

However, Cinna is a more ambiguous and thus interesting character for me. He was new in the job, but even so, I could not decide whether he cared about Katniss and Peeta or whether he just wanted his tributes to win, so furthering his burgeoning career.


message 49: by Cecily (last edited Jul 11, 2011 01:24AM) (new)

Cecily | 576 comments Janice wrote: "...Don't forget, this society was one based on these gladitor type games. I don't think there was a lot of emotion about people dying. They saw it as sport. We judge them based on today's ideals when we need to think, "What if? What would it be like to like in a society like that?" ..."

Very true. The trouble is, I really can't imagine a society so totally heartless as to make sport, entertainment and profit out of murdering children.

There are plenty of societies where it is accepted that children die in horrific circumstances, and others where death is made into entertainment, but the combination is, I hope, a step too far for reality. Collins certainly didn't convince me.


message 50: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 48834 comments Cecily wrote: "There are plenty of societies where it is accepted that children die in horrific circumstances, and others where death is made into entertainment, but the combination is, I hope, a step too far for reality. Collins certainly didn't convince me."

My belief about dystopia (and it could be wrong) is that it is cautionary as well.

Very true. The trouble is, I really can't imagine a society so totally heartless as to make sport, entertainment and profit out of murdering children.

You don't have to imagine very hard when you look at the horrific ways children are treated in various parts of our world. In some of the war torn parts of Africa (eg Darfur), you have children as young as 9 and 10 taking up arms, killing and being killed.

If you've read Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur, you would have read of the unfathomable attack on a school of girls who were all raped regardless of age for the rebel's enjoyment. Some of these girls were not healed from the still widely practiced female genital mutilation when they were raped.

If you've watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire, you would see how children living on the streets in India are taken advantage of and forced to prostitute, steal, etc for the profit of their controllers.

I could go on and on with examples of atrocities that happen every day in our "utopian" world.


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