Hey! Do you remember the first time you saw Battle Royale, and you thought your brain would melt from the awesomeness and hyper violence of it all? Well, Suzanne Collins does! And she thought she could retell the whole story and do a better job of it than the original Japanese filmmakers. And truth be told, she did a credible job (and she did a MUCH better job than the hacks who made Battle Royale 2), and all in all Suzanne's Hunger Games Trilogy tells an entertaining story, but it's such a blatant rip-off of BA that it took a while for me to even give it a real shot on its own merits; I just kept comparing it to the Beat Takeshi-starring masterpiece. That's not fair to do to anything though, so I'll let my comparisons between the two go and just review the Hunger Games books without any references to the story that it so blatantly stole from like crack whores pillaging the wallets of their johns who are still handcuffed to the bed.
So on to the review!
It seems that every year around this time I hear about a new movie being planned around a series of popular books aimed at kids or teenagers, and I figure I'll give them a shot in between my "Dear Penthouse" hardcover collections I've got piling up — to see what all the hubbub's about and see if it'll be worth paying $12 a ticket for it when the movie of it comes out. This has led to me reading all of Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Percy Jackson, and unfortunately the first Twilight book. And now it's led to me reading Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games Trilogy: featuring The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.
Okay, so the set up for the story is this: it's a few hundred years in the future and the world has fallen to absolute shit. It seems that only one continent has survived some terrible famine or plague that rocked the fuck out of humanity, and the survivors in North America have banded together to become known as the country of Panem. Within Panem there is the Capitol city-state that runs everything (and whose citizens are all wasteful, full-of-themselves douchebags who only live for excess and fashion), and 13 districts known only by their numbers that provide all the food, technology, and materials that the Capitol needs to continue being prosperous. These 13 districts become the shat-upon turd rags of the Capitol very quickly though, and soon a rebellion occurs when the slaves in the districts (kept in line by heavily armed Peacekeeper soldiers) rise up and try to knock the pompous head off the decadent government that keeps them down.
It didn't go so well for the districts — District 13 was actually wiped from the map — and every year after the war ended, Districts 1 through 12 have to hold a raffle in the Spring for the jumbo televised event known as "The Hunger Games." In case you were wondering, winning this raffle is not really a good thing. It's actually the equivalent of getting your name picked to be the first one to jump into the pit filled with rabid, gay, AIDS-infected baboons that fuck and bite anything that moves.
The purpose of these Hunger Games is that the Capitol wants to make goddamn sure that the districts know beyond any shadow of a doubt that resistance is futile. See, every 12 to 18 year-old boy and girl in Panem (well, outside of the Capitol) has to have their names in the pot, and one boy and one girl from every district is then chosen for the Games. The Hunger Games consist of these 24 children being thrown into a playing field (anything from an Arctic wasteland to a tropical island) filled with every kind of weapon imaginable, and only one of them being allowed to leave alive. Kind of like a big "Yeah, not only did we beat you poor fucks into submission and slavery, but we're going to kill your children every goddamn year too and air it on the television for everybody to watch... And it's mandatory to watch. Get the popcorn and grab a soda!" fuck you from the ruling class to the shit-diggers.
Our story starts 74 years after the first Hunger Games. In District 12 (the crappiest district where they mostly mine coal) there is a 16 year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss likes to sneak out past the giant fence that encircles her small district and go hunting with her BFF, the hunky and slightly older Gale. Katniss, her younger sister Prim, and their mother live a quiet and dirt-poor life (as do most of the District 12 residents), but shit gets real when at the picking of the names for the 74th Hunger Games, 12 year-old Prim gets chosen in her first eligible year. Huzzah!
Well, Katniss being a good big sister volunteers to take wee lil' Prim's place in the murder games, and soon her District 12 companion is chosen by the way of a boy her age named Peeta. Peeta's the strong and artistic son of the town baker, and it seems that he's had the hots for Katniss since before his body could even physically pop a boner. So throughout the horror of the 74th Games we watch as Katniss greedily kills a ton of dickheads from the other 11 districts, makes allies with the lesser of her fellow human "tributes" in the arena, and we see Peeta acting like a selfless idiot with love-blinders on as he does everything he can to keep his puppy-crush alive against all odds, bullets, bombs, and arrows. Oh, and for shits and giggles the Capitol gene-splicers send some deadly mutant animals known as "muttations" into the playing field to eat a tribute every now and then... Good for ratings I guess.
Anyway, soon Katniss and Peeta gain the audience's pity for being tragic lovers whose relationship can never fully bloom (hell, at least one of them has to die... horribly), and the rules of the game are changed in order to add more drama. But then more blood flies and the body count rises up until the very end, when Katniss unintentionally defies the Capitol in front of its entire population. Because of her ill thought out actions Katniss did save her own life, but she causes the dickheaded president, one President Snow, to make her and her remaining family's (and friends') lives a living hell until she makes it up to him. Enter book 2: Catching Fire.
The second book plays up the turmoil that really starts building in the 12 districts after Katniss' final showdown in the Hunger Games' arena (which kind of made the Capitol look weak and pathetic, like a baby with no legs and Eric Stoltz's face from Mask). President Snow makes The Girl Who Was on Fire (aka Katniss, given this name thanks to her reeeeeeally fabulous Capitol designer who made both her and Peeta appear to be aflame during their introduction ceremonies at the 74th Games) do her best to quell the would-be revolutionaries on her "Victory Tour" through all the other districts whose champions she had killed when she was in the arena. Good times for all!
Anyway, Katniss being the dumb broad that she is, she actually makes matters worse between the Capitol and the districts on her tour, and in retaliation (and to try and show the commoners who's boss... again) President Snow rigs the 75th Anniversary Hunger Games to include only victors of previous games. Meaning Katniss is back in the ring, rrrrrrrrready to rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrumble for her life again!
Since the game is filled with pros this time though, Katniss is forced to team up with some other players (for the time being), and finds that the playing field is filled 360-degrees with hideous and deadly traps set up by the game makers in order to kill her fast and fun-like.
Well, some pretty crazy shit happens, and the ending was actually really surprising and enjoyable. It really made me wonder what direction Suzanne Collins would take her story next, the series finale, Mockingjay.
See, Katniss and her new friends are immediately split up by the beginning of the 3rd book, with some making it to the safe haven of the now full-on revolution's secret base, and the others captured by President Snow and forced/brainwashed to going on TV and making our heroine out to be the evil cunt who will doom the world. Katniss is talked into becoming the face of the rebellion, and with all the other people hiding in their secret hidey hole becomes a card-carrying member of the rebellion against the Capitol.... And then nothing of any real drama happens.
Don't get me wrong, stuff of importance happens as Katniss disregards direct orders, blows up a few Capitol war planes with her specially made explodey arrows, and incites some of the more pathetic citizens of Panem to rise up and join the fight against their Commie oppressors, but nothing interesting or dramatic occurs in the whole of Mockingjay until the end, when comes the attack on the well fortified Capitol City itself. Then things get violent and very urban warfarey. But whatever, there's the whole tone of this thing I need to talk about now. Tally ho!
I honestly do not know how and why these books are designated as "children's literature." Yes, they star a teenage girl as the main character, but does that mean that the movie Kick-Ass is meant for kids then? I mean, it stars a lot of teens, and a 10 year-old girl who murders people in horrific ways... Just like Katniss Everdeen. And The Hunger Games Trilogy is filled with torture, suffering, and mental mind fucks out the ass. Hell, the last novel alone is pretty much nothing but physical and psychological torture-pr0n.
Let me talk about the first book. It starts off with a feeling of despair — the world seems to be completely depopulated and almost dead. On top of that we find out that the evil, bad, naughty Capitol actually murders 23 teenagers a year for popular entertainment. Just hearing that sounds bad, but when you visualize it through Katniss' eyes via the pretty vivid and awfully explicit text that Collins provides... Well, it's highly disturbing. I mean, it's Battle Royale disturbing. Some of these kids you really hate, but some you truly come to like, and you really hope that they all somehow make it out alive. But just like the Highlander, there can BE only one. And once you fully grasp that you start to feel reeeeeally depressed.
Children (I'm told this book is meant for young teens on up) will have nightmares over some of the mental images projected by this first book alone. And it's not until the later books that we get the skin-melting acid, the point-blank shooting of elderly men, and the massacre of children by bombs lightly dropped to them by parachutes. These books are Brutal (capital 'B'). I honestly can't wait to see how the movie turns out. Will it be PG-13, or will they just keep all the violence and psychological drama and just say "To hell with it!"and make it rated R?
Oh wow. This was quite a stupendous gift from the Rossman... I never thought that a book like this could even exist! I mean, I thought it was illegal to talk about murdering, disemboweling, and psychologically mind-raping children like this! I hate the youth of today with such a passion after having to teach them for so many years, this book series felt like a little bit of well-earned retribution for me.
Don't look at me like that. I don't hate ALL children, just most of them. And if you're one of those loser parents who babies their kids and hovers around them wiping their hineys until they're over 30, then yes, I hate your kids too, and I dream of them being put into a game like these Hunger Games in this book. I would absolutely love to watch them get stung to death, blown to bits, poisoned, shot, stabbed, melted, or actually eaten by a beast. Seriously, what would it take to enact a law like this? Hell, I think we can unite the senior citizens of the land to all vote for the hereby named "Get Off My Lawn" Bill. Then, we just need to let the good times roll.
*Sigh* So THIS is how it all began... You know that thanks to old farts like Dr. Dave of your time the Battle Royale Hunger Games Act was passed in just a few years, and they actually made it to the BRHG MMXVI Games before they ran out of children (women were scooping out their ovaries by the end, in order to make sure that they didn't have any children to get thrown into the ring and die terrible deaths). So they finally stopped the Games, and with a little help of cloning (which they eventually got the kinks worked out of, but left the girl clones with 3 breasts just because) we are now back to an Earthly population of 2.1 trillion people... Well, before the 45th Robopocalypse occurred.