Not A Review On Reading The Hunger Games

On my last trip to Japan back in May, I decided to cough up the $12 to buy The Hunger Games for my Kindle. All three! This is my first time reading through the books, and my only exposure to Panem and its grotesque entertainment of having kids kill each other in the arena have been through the movies that have been released in the past few years.

Actually, watching the movies has been the primary motivation for me to read the books. Oh sure! Many of you have recommended to me that I should read the books as they are excellent. So when I was preparing for my last business trip, I decided that it would be a good thing to have while sitting around during travel. Airport lounges, airplanes, trains, oh my! (And as a bit of a sidenote…reading The Hunger Games was also one of my New Year’s Goals-Not-Resolutions). I got through a bunch of chapters on my 3-hour train rides:

Non-bullet trains and The Hunger Games. #JapanMay

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It took me a little while to get used to Suzanne Collins’ writing style. After having read Tolkien’s eloquence in The Lord of the Rings, Collins’ incomplete sentences and stream of consciousness-ish style was kind of jarring for me. But I eventually figured out that her writing style for The Hunger Games pointed to something very important, which prompts me to write this not-review.

I don’t want to get bogged down by English IV AP literary analysis, but I realized that the book was written with Katniss Everdeen as the narrator. She’s the one telling her story as it happens. Hence, I can understand why sometimes the sentences and things seem choppy, pointed, and sometimes representative of how I blog. Haha. As I was reading through the three books, I discovered something profound that didn’t come across as effectively in the movies as it does while reading.

Because the book is written from Katniss’ perspective, I got to know her inner thoughts, emotions, struggles, etc. While Jennifer Lawrence does effectively play the part of Katniss on screen, the movies still lack the intimate details of what Katniss is actually going through in her mind and heart.  In other words, reading the books opened up a new dimension to the Mockingjay saga by letting me know Katniss’ interior self.

You can read her like a book. Pun and reference totally intended.

Because of reading The Hunger Games and realizing how it invites me as the reader to an inside perspective of the mind and heart of Katniss Everdeen, I started thinking that we don’t generally experience each other’s interior selves. Like 95% of the time, I encounter a person’s exterior. From their exterior expression, I can begin to reason out their interior dispositions. The only way for us to know what we’re really thinking and feeling on the inside is to share it. Knowing the interior self can help answer the why for the exterior self. It begins to make sense to me why Katniss did the things she did because I know, from reading her like a book, what motivated her on the inside.

I also thought about Facebook. Far stretch from Panem, I know. There have been some instances whereby some of my Facebook friends got the very wrong idea of something I posted online (a very exterior thing) because they don’t know who I am and where I’m at interiorly. Granted, it doesn’t help that I’m sometimes purposely very cryptic and vague at times on Facebook. And at the same time I’m not one to share something directly from my interior self. I like the idea of giving a taste, but not the full entree. The Hunger Games was a smorgasbord of Katniss’ interior self. I’ll give an appetizer, but I don’t generally want to give you the adobo (Filipino dish). I suppose I’m reserved online because I’d rather that people spend the time to get to know me personally and in person before sharing my more inside self with them. Without knowing me on that level, I won’t make much sense online.

On a different note, to tie this notion of knowing the interior self to the Catholic faith, I think of the saints. By no means am I equating Katniss to a Catholic saint, but I’d like to have her as an analogy. She lets us, the readers, know what she’s feeling and thinking on the inside. Many saints’ written works provide a deep look into their motivations and interior lives as to why they are disciples of Christ. And for me, a journeying pilgrim towards Paradise, it’s fascinating and inspiring to read about the interior lives of the saints.  They’re all so unique, and some enduring even more grave things than having to kill others in government-mandated killing arenas.

I’ve attempted at reading St. Faustina’s diary. I couldn’t read it for too long as it is extremely substantial (not in quantity of words but in quality of depth) as she writes about her encounters with Christ and her sufferings. I’ve read bits and pieces of St. Therese’s autobiography through Vr. Fulton Sheen’s pen, and from those small chunks, I know there is something very substantial there too in The Little Flower’s words. And those are just two Catholic saints that I’ve merely scratched the surface of who they are in light of their relationship to Christ.

But it begs the question of what makes a saint… a saint? I don’t know for sure what that looks like exactly, but a good place to start is to read about their inner selves that they share in their own words. From there, I can work on my own interior life in God, inspired by those who have come before me, so that my exterior is an expression of that interior life in Christ. And to share that with others.

-JD

Mockingjay // The Hunger Games Wiki