Hello Bookish Friends, welcome to our first ROTR community book chat! In our Book Chat series, followers and ROTR blog community members write us to share their thoughts on books that have offered personal impactful insights into their lives. We love receiving and sharing these stories with our community to inspire connection, discussion, empathy and to discover new reads. Yes, please!
Keep reading to lean more about how the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins changed Nabila Shafa's outlook on life:
I remember reading The Hunger Games for the first time back in high school. It was a book that changed my perspective on novels forever. Since then, I have read and reread the book countless times, and it still keeps surprising me. I’d find some new details every time I would read it, some new fact that I would notice, made me fall in love with the books even more. Of course, there was also the satisfaction I’d get every time Katniss did something unbelievably brave, or show her fiery side. The sadness I’d feel seeing the sufferings of the districts. And then there were the deaths, so many deaths, so much sadness, pain beyond something that I’ve read from a book.
The first time I read the book, was the first time I cried because of a book character. Before this, no book has been able to make me cry, and I read a lot. I cried for sweet little Rue, who was the eldest of six siblings, only twelve years old, who has never had a full belly, who was so happy to get a full drumstick for herself. Her death was so tragic, so painful, I sometimes think it hurt me more than Prim’s death. While Prim’s death was more tragic for me, and I absolutely resented the author for ending the book with that, I could never get over Rue’s death either. It was even more amplified when in Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta does the victory tour and they see the Rue’s family. It was like I reliving her death once again.
The second book of the trilogy, Catching Fire might be one of my favorite one, because this is where everything comes into play, the plot becomes more focused. Also the fact that this is where the uprising came more into focus, it showed how angry the districts were, how there was a show of solidarity. Especially the interview before the games began, when they held hands in solidarity, it just felt like they were adding fuel to a fire that I couldn’t still see but felt in my bones. And then the games began and it was such a rush, it was exhilarating, no more trekking for miles looking for water. I remember how brave and kind Mags was, how she sacrificed herself. How the Morphling sacrificed herself for Peeta. Everything was moving too fast, nothing made sense and then it all did. They were all in on the secret except for Katniss, and since the book was from her point of view, I as a reader was just as clueless as her.
The third book, Mockingjay, was a little difficult to swallow, it was death and destruction from the beginning. I don’t know how many times I teared up or flat out cried throughout the whole book. The visit to district twelve, seeing the ruins and the bones. The visit to the hospital in District 8, the bombing, the speech. And then there was the rescue mission and Peeta trying to kill Katniss. That was one of the best plot twist I have ever read. Everything was made up and yet it made so much sense, she built the plot up from book one with the hallucinations Katniss got from the Tracer Jacker venom. And then came the last fight, the 76th hunger games as Finnick would put it. Then the deaths came, everyone I ever liked started to die one by one. One horrifying tragedy after another. Until of course the biggest of all tragedy happened, the parachutes floated down with bombs, killing the children.
I remember how Katniss saw Prim among the medics, how she was calling out to Prim, rushing to her, how Prim even turned and saw Katniss, her mouth moving as if to call out Katniss, and the rogue bomb exploded. Prim was dead, and I couldn’t believe it. The fact the book started with Katniss doing everything in her power to save Prim and in the end for her to die like that. Even the pact that Katniss killed President Coin, it just wasn’t enough. It left a void in me that I could never feel. I have since then read the books countless times more and every time that void would get a little smaller.
Of course I never analyzed anything when I read the books for the first time, I just read it because they were such good books. But the more I read them, I started noticing things more and one of those times, I realized Prim’s death was essential for the plot in a way. It was the only way Katniss would have believed president Snow when he told her the theory of how it was Coin who ordered the bomb disposal. Maybe there were other ways too, and I would always be wondering about that. But in the end I accepted her death, accepted the fact that the Hungers Games trilogy will always be a tragedy for me. No amount of happy ending could change that. It made me evolve as a reader, I could never go back to reading the books I have ever thought were good before I read this trilogy. It made me realize there was so much more to a book than the typical hero saving the day. The hero can be vulnerable and they can be weak. And yet through all that they can get up and fight because they believe in the right cause.
Writer Nabila Shafa can be reached on Facebook:
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