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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

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Read Along: The Hunger Games, Part 2: The Games

I sat down to read about the start of the Hunger Games competition and guessed that I’d be in for a few rough patches as a reader. I knew characters would start to die. I assumed there’d be some moral dilemmas. And it made sense that there would probably be at least one major injury. I also expected a moment or two of real sentiment.

I was not prepared for exactly how intense this 111-page section was going to be. From Katniss’s burns to the deaths of the first few tributes, from the horrible tracker jackers to the booby-trapped pile of goods, I felt like I was reading an action movie. Unlike when seeing an actual movie though, there was no way to cover my eyes. At every turn I was worried that there would be an image I couldn’t “unsee.”

Despite all the injury and death and destruction and survival, what I’ve taken from this section revolves around something Peeta says early on. Katniss and he are on the roof of the training center talking about their chances in the Games. He says, “I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.” The text continues with Katniss’s reaction—she realizes that while she’s been thinking about survival, he’s been thinking about “purity of self.”

The axiom “To thine own self be true” immediately came to mind and I scribbled it down on a sticky note. The scene felt important, but I didn’t realize it would color how I read the subsequent pages.

When I looked back over my notes on Part 2, I realized that they fell into one of two categories: facts (death toll, District information, etc.) and moments that were about identity and self. Every time Katniss stopped herself from doing something that might be seen as vulnerable (wincing in pain) I thought about how she was playing to the audience. When she invites Rue to be an ally and admits she’s reminded of Prim, it felt like a precious interaction. And when Katniss reflects on her first human kill and is conflicted, that was also a peek at her real self.

I wasn’t expecting to have that level of contemplation during such an intense series of events. I knew I’d be reading a strong survival story (as I mentioned in my last post), but I didn’t expect questions of identity and perception. There’s something wonderful about pairing scenes of intense action with moments of contemplation. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

 

If you have any questions or reactions you’d like to share, please post them here or on our Facebook page, or join us on Twitter with the hash tag #HungerGamesReadAlong. I’ll be sharing my thoughts about Part 3: The Victor (pages 247–374 in the paperback edition) next week!

Note: Because of sophisticated content, The Hunger Games is suggested for readers aged 12 and up.

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July 25, 2013