Friday, February 26, 2010

Barney's Online Book Club -- February 2010 Discussion

Welcome to the sixth discussion post of Barney's Online Book Club. This month we will be discussing Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The following questions are used to start the discussion, but please feel free to raise your own questions in the comments section. Please note that the questions and comments may include spoilers so read at your own risk.

Let the discussion begin!

1. What are you overall impressions of Katniss? How does she grow and change as the novel progresses?

2. What are your thoughts on the Hunger Games? Do you think that the author uses the games to make the reader think of the reality competitions that are prevalent on television today? If so, what message do you think she is trying to convey?

3. How did you feel about the romantic relationship between Katniss and Peeta? Was it a strategic move or do you feel that Petra truly loves Katniss?

4. Discuss the supporting characters such as Cinna and Haymitch. What does each one bring to their friendship to Katniss? Do you feel that each character has an alternative motive for the relationship that they forge with others?

5. Tell us your overall impressions of the book. Would you recommend it to teens? Why or why not? Will / have you read the sequel, Catching Fire?


Crystal said...

Finally I can join in. I read this last year so here goes.

1. At first I wasn't too sure what I thought about Katniss - she actually took awhile to grow on me. But as the book goes on I really start to like her. She's had a tough life and she is tough. The games change her some and she does grow, but really all her characteristics were already there, they just change some. I love her strength and her compassion.

2.I think the author is definitely commenting on the prevalence of reality shows. We as a country are engrossed by them (this is said by someone who has watched Survivor since season 2). However I feel most reality shows are staged and while this one was controlled in the background it still had an unfortunate consequence - you lived or you died. I think the message is to remind us that those are real people making real decisions on those reality shows and when we are pulling for someone to get hurt - they really can get hurt.

3. I am intrigued by Katniss and Peeta's relationship. I think Peeta does truly love Katniss.

4. I liked Haymitch and I think he brings the fact that he has been through the games before and his wisdom and unfortunate downhill slide, but Katniss knows she doesn't want to end up like that and she does all she can to help him. I think he does have alternative motives for the relationships he forges - he is bittered by his life and he thinks that there must be a reason behind everything.

Cinna I found to be more genuine in a way, but in a way I think he wants to make a name for himself and if he can do well with the poorest district he really will sound good. But he is genuine in his appreciation and like of Katniss - he admires her and wants her to do well.

5. My overall impression was this was an amazing book. I would recommend it to teens - it's a great book with a lot of meanings to it and besidess that it is an entertaining read. I think it would enthrall most teens. It's a difficult subject but it still is great for teens.

I have read Catching Fire, really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to Mockingjay later this year.

Jess said...

Thanks Crystal for starting the discussion!

1. I agree that Katniss is a character that grows on you. Her life and the choices she makes are so difficult, I think Collins does a great job of making Katniss an understandable character if not an always likeable one.

2. To me, the book seems to be a statement on reality shows today. I think the author has just looked at the worst case scenario. The political aspect of the games is fasinating to me. That the games truly are a device which is to suppress a population, while providing entertainment for the population in charge is just horrific.

What does everyone else think? Is the Hunger Games a deathly version of Survivor?

Susie Sharp Librarian said...

1.I agree with other’s Katniss had to kind of grow on me.I think the biggest part that changes is at the beginning she thinks she’s tough and a survivor but by the end she truly is.

2.It reminded me of the old movie The Running Man (which I have since found out was a book/short story by Stephen King.)I also thought with some of the reality shows we have now how far from this are we?

3.I believe Peeta truly cares for Katniss but for Katniss it was a strategic move.I think by the end she does care about him but not the love her feels for her.

4.I loved Haymitch if they make a movie out of this they better get him right with whats in my head!I like flawed characters and look forward to learning more about him and just why he drinks so much.
I guess for supporting characters Rue was my favorite and of course was the saddest part of the games.

5. When I first finished this book I didn’t think I would run right out and get Catching Fire but this book kind of stuck with me I found myself thinking about it so I did get Catching Fire and finished it already and am looking forward to the finale.

Jess said...

Hi Susie --

Haymitch was a favorite of mine as well. I also have a soft spot for Gale. I thought it was interesting how Katniss protrayed her mother in the beginning of Hunger Games and how much the mother had changed at the beginning of Catching Fire.

Amy said...

Sorry I'm so late on this one!

1. I never disliked Katniss, but I grew to like her more over the course of the story.

2. If she was going for the parallel between reality tv and the Hunger Games, I didn't catch it. But I can definitely see it now.

3. I think Peeta truly loves Katniss, but I think she and Gale are a better fit.

4. I think Cinna is innocent. He's just a great friend for Katniss, which is exactly what she needed. Haymitch, while he may have alternative motives, I think he really just wanted them to win. It would be awful to see the people you coach every year get killed, and I think he saw the chance he had in these two and did his best to help them.

5. I really liked this book, and I will definitely be reading Catching Fire! Here's my review of The Hunger Games.

Sue Jackson said...

Sorry for the lateness - crazy weekend here, too! I read both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire - as did my 15-year old son, my husband, my mother, and my step-mother! We all loved these books and passed them around the family! I won't comment on things that become clearer in Catching Fire so as not to spoil it for anyone.

I really liked Katniss and admired the sacrifice she made for her sister.

I think the author was not only commenting on reality Tv shows but also on our whole political and cultural focuses. I believe she meant this series as a cautionary tale, as with many stories set in the future, of what could happen. I think the Hunger Games represent not only our culture's obsession with reality television but also our obsession with celebrity in general.

I liked the secondary characters and found them critical to the story - some of them figure heavily in the next book as well.

I think Suzanne Collins is an excellent writer, with a wonderful ability to create a new world and make it seem real, as well as creating realistic characters. Our family also enjoyed her earlier series for middle-grade readers, The Underland Chronicles.


My reviews:
The Hunger Games:

Catching Fire:

The Underland Chronicles:

Jo said...

1. Katniss has had to make some pretty hard (to make and to read)choices, but she has some truly likeable characteristics as well. For instance, when she was trying to figure out her best approach for the interview, I thought she could really have stressed her loyalty. As for how she grows and changes...she develops a wider sense of life outside of her little (though hard) life bubble. She also learns when to compromise and when to hold true.

2. I definitely saw some similarities to today's reality shows. Two things really stuck out. 1) How aware Kantiss was of the cameras. Sometimes I've thought contestants must forget they're always being filmed, but it's hard to believe that after reading this. 2) When Kantiss is discussing the sensational parts - people being injured and killed - and how the audience sees them... I couldn't help but think of when Mike burned his hands in the 2nd season of Survivor (my 1st season watching...introduced to me in my HS Sociology class, btw).

But as for reading messages from the author...I really couldn't say.

3. I was going to say I think Peeta really loves Kantiss, but I think it would be more accurate to say he thinks he loves her. A crush is a crush. He hasn't had the opportunity to really get to know her, and the The Hunger Games are too contrived for the time spent to gether to be an accurate portrayal (that may be a commentary on reality shows, now that I think about it). For Katriss's part of things, I think she was just a confused mess. And I think she had a mixture of strategy and some genuine caring for Peeta.

4. Cinna- I liked him and I think he would have huge potential for helping with some sort of rebellion. I had the impression of someone working the system, but unhappy with it.

Haymitch - Oh, watching the division candidates he was responsible for mentoring year after year fail would be so painful. He earned major sympathy votes there. But in other ways, he frustrated me. He'd obviously given up b4 some prodding from Peeta and Katniss.

Competitors - Some of them had some great aspects, so it was hard as the reader to meet them and watch them be destroyed. Not only Rue, but Foxface and Thresh and even Cato to an extent.

5. I will read Catching Fire. I need to know what happens next. I'd recommend The Hunger Games as a good dystopian story. And as such, make it clear that not everything is resolved. The book certainly held my attention, but the ending left me with a gut-twisted "now what?" feeling.

bookjourney said...

Gah! I am late to the discussion but loved this book and have to stop in now with my two... or maybe three cents. :)

1. I likes Katniss from the beginning. She was a tough girl trying to help her family and I found her to be a likable character.

2. Call me a little naive maybe.... I didnt think about the book in light to the reality we see on TV today. I took the book as a new concept which I thoroughly enjoyed - a different book looking into a future life that we do not know.

3. I think Peeta has loved Katniss since he first helped her years before with the bread. The book made me feel that his feelings are genuine. Katniss however is another story...

4. Yes to the motives (which change as we make our way into Catching Fire. Cinna to me is more trustworthy, he does his job well but I feel he takes a liking to Katniss and Peeta. Haymitch in this book is in it for himself. He has had a rough life since the Hunger Games and does what he much but only as much as he needs to.

5. Yes - I have actually recommended this book to several people and my personal copy has made it through 3 teens and 2 adults who have all loved it.

When I describe the book and what it is about people get this horrified look on their face. I tell them i would have felt the same and would never have even considered picking up this book if it were not for the blog reviews I had read about it.

While the book has an extremely harsh topic, Suzanne Collins writes the book well and it it never comes across to me as grotesque or too graphic.

(Ok I wrote all my answers without reading others responses so I will do that now and see if I have anything to add)

bookjourney said...

Crystal brings up a good point on Cinna.... I have read this book quite a while ago now, but she is tight that Cinna is trying to make a name for himself.

Jess - oh yeah, I too was fascinated by the political aspect of the book and the "population control." With todays reality shows being such a big deal..... as creepy as this is - could this sort of thing be so unrealistic - so unheard of say decades down the road?

Susie - yes Katniss does start to have feelings for Peeta but no where near what he feels for her. (Book three will be interesting)

oh and I loved Rue too!

Sue, By the time I read Hunger Games, Catching Fire was out and I read them back to back. Loved them both!

I cant wait for book 3!

Jess said...

Thanks to everyone who participated! I will be away at the end of March so there will be no book club, but I am looking for suggestions for April, May, and June.