10. Mythology and Roman Empire
The author – Susanne Collins – said that she got the idea from myth of Theseus and Minotaur (people of Athens had to sacrifice seven young boys and seven young girls to Minotaur, who killed them in a labyrinth). I have no reason to not believe her, mostly because Greek mythology (and Roman Empire) is the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about The Hunger Games series. I generally like everything that uses Greek or Roman mythology, for no reason at all. Just my personal taste.
As for Roman Empire, besides the already described arenas, the name Panem comes from the saying “panem et circenses” (meaning “bread and circuses”). This was realized by games of gladiators, or organizing of big feasts. The aim was to distract the people through diversion, distraction, and to gain public approval by doing so. Panem in The Hunger Games is a country where this strategy is used by President Snow and his allies. The games are supposed to take ordinary people’s mind off the real problems, and for the superficial citizens of the Capitol, it works perfectly.
11. Talking about books one by one
The first book, The Hunger Games, introduces us to the “brave new world” that Panem is. It talks about hardships of living in 12th districts, fighting for food every day, and then describes the arena and some aspects of life in the capitol, and how different it is from the life in the districts.
The second one (actually my favorite) features a lot of new, interesting characters, my favorite being: Johanna Mason, Finnick Odair and Maggs – all previous victors of the games, forced to take part in the games again. So, Johanna Mason. A crazy girl who has nothing to lose, because there’s nobody she loves anymore. She adds a lot of humor and some spice to the book; she is as different from Katniss as possible, yet they are very similar. Finnick Odair is this handsome, 20-something man, who sleeps with everyone in the capitol, but is secretly in love with mentally ill girl back in his district. And Maggs – an 80-something-year-old woman, who doesn’t say much, but apparently – for me – she doesn’t have to. I love how Finnick (Maggs used to be his mentor) cares for her, carries her on his back, talks to her, and tries to save her, though they both know it’s impossible. One of my favorite relationships in the series is between her and Finnick. And I love how Katniss, while forced to make “allies” for her second time in the arena, chooses her, among the other “losers.”
The third and last book is about the revolution. No more games anymore, and no more district 12. Instead, we get district 13, that was supposed to be destroyed, but it was a lie told by the government who needed nuclear weapon that 13 provides. They were alive and under the ground for all this time, secretly preparing for revolution. And now it’s revolution time. Katniss becomes the mockingjay – a symbol of rebellion. Apparently, by opposing the government she became a symbol of hope for others. I personally love the idea of small things leading unknowingly to big events. And we have a lot of well-used potential here. Katniss has to play a completely new game here – the game of propaganda. This is the revolution’s weapon now – mass media turned against the government and into a means of convincing others to join the revolution. So, a big part of the war is not fighting with open fire, but fighting with words. Who convinces whom? But, in this world not everyone is honest, and Katniss has to decide whom to trust, as at the end it turns out even on “her camp” there are people who can compromise lives of others to make a point. It’s never black and white.
I also like how the author is not afraid of killing favorite characters – after all, it’s the war. I read some opinions that Katniss wasn’t doing much in book 3, but for Pete’s sake (no pun intended), she was a traumatized teenage girl and she was supposed to be their puppet. Not very much to do. I prefer it that way – when she was used and had to figure it out on her own – than if the author made her some kind of a soldier hero.
Anyway, I generally think the ending of part three – and the whole trilogy – was brilliant, and it even made up for Katniss’ never-ending torment of “oh-my-God-poor-me-who-do-I-choose-between-those-totally-hot-guys” which was SO important apparently in the middle of a FREAKING revolution.
But that’s because I just love Johanna.