I've watched the first Hunger Games movie, and I started reading the book while visiting a friend a few years ago, but I didn't get to finish reading the book then. I know, generally, what's going to happen.
But it's occurred to me that Suzanne Collins has done a wonderful job of presenting a limited point of view by telling us the story just from Katniss' view point. Katniss does not know what to make of Peeta Mellark. She isn't sure what all he's doing to gain an advantage in the games. She's convinced that he's only being nice/hanging out with her before the games start because he's following orders and trying to get sponsors to like him. She doesn't know what to make of his interview where he says he loves her. She doesn't trust him, understandably, or anything he says or does. Not that I truly think Peeta is lying for most of this, but that she doesn't feel like she can trust anyone, so she doesn't.
And it's so refreshing to not know the whole story. Because in real life, we only know our motives unless someone else actually tells us why they are doing what they are doing. Motives stay fuzzy, and we can't always be sure of why someone is doing something.
Of course, the true story is about a government that forces kids to kill each other for entertainment/punishment. It's about a girl who is willing to sacrifice her life (again) for her family. It's not a warm and fuzzy kind of story. Katniss is sympathetic, but only because the story is told from her point of view. It's oddly easier to feel bad for Rue, who didn't have an older sister volunteer as tribute for her, especially since she reminds Katniss of Prim. Rue, who is 12 and knows she's not likely to survive. Rue, who makes an alliance with Katniss in the arena. Rue, who's death helped start a revolution (Although, why it took until her death to anger enough people to even start to revolt, I will never understand. 73 years of teenagers dying was okay, but that 74th year was too much?).
I can understand why this book was made into a movie. The vivid scenes almost beg to be turned into a visual medium, and not just reliant upon people's imagination. Katniss shooting an arrow into the apple in a hog's mouth, Katniss' descriptions of the capital, the entrances of all the tributes in carriages to introduce them, again, to the audience within the book, the pageantry of the interviews and the clothing that goes with them, these are all scenes that are vividly painted, but seem to be asking to be made into artwork or a movie.
I am in awe of Suzanne Collins' writing. She does an amazing job. And she makes it easy to understand the horror of being pulled into these games, of competing, and of losing a loved one to the games. She takes a horrifying idea, and makes it an entertaining read. That is impressive. And a bit haunting.