Sunday Lifestyle

Bleed to live

- Patrick Simon Corrales -


MANILA, Philippines - Patrick Simon Corrales, 24, is a software engineer, a Latin dancer, and an aspiring published writer. He wants to have the biggest library in the world someday.

There are books meant for serious reading — and by this I mean books that whack you on the head with insights that you could never get elsewhere, books that leave you feeling enlightened after you have closed their pages. And then there are those whose main purpose is to entertain. Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games aspires to be both — and succeeds in both. In my case though, I gravitated more towards the entertainment aspect of it. I could’ve absorbed more of the deeper meanings and allegories weaved into the story, had I not been so engrossed in all the action happening. I could have sworn I was watching a movie, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

Set in a future North America called Panem, The Hunger Games opens with the day of the “reaping,” the ceremonial selection of one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts in the country. These children, aged 12 to 18, are called Tributes, participants in the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. The Tributes will be put in a hostile outdoor arena and must do what they can to survive hunger, natural dangers, and their fellow Tributes’ murderous intentions. The sole survivor of this treacherous and deadly battle gets instant fame and fortune for the entire district.

The Hunger Games come across as punishment for the rebellion of the country districts against the Capitol, the seat of power in Panem. After the Capitol’s obliteration of the uprising many years ago, they began to conduct these deadly Olympics to remind the people that they are at the Capitol’s mercy. Because the Capitol controls everything, the people don’t get enough supplies to survive, despite thriving in their own respective industries like agriculture, mining, and the like. The districts’ constituents have to hunt and engage in trade just to be able to eat.

As the Hunger Games unfold, the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers against her will to take the place of her sister, Prim, who gets picked in the reaping ceremony. Along with her as the male competitor from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the son of a baker, and Katniss’s secret admirer.

Katniss has all the qualities of a competitive player: she is a good hunter, is used to hunger, and is exceptional with a bow and arrow. So it’s safe to say that she has a big chance to win the games. But many other factors come into play once the games begin, and behind this spirited veneer, Katniss is faced with the most important reality: her refusal to kill a fellow human being. In a game designed for only one poor soul to survive, the question is if you were Katniss, would you smear blood on your own hands, too?

Gripping, vivid, action-packed, The Hunger Games is one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read recently. It has a hypnotic quality to it, one that pulls you in and refuses to let you go. The violence is unspeakable, but it isn’t in any way glamorized. If this were a typical action novel, I could’ve enjoyed reading about children killing one another, getting stung to death by mutant wasps, being cooked alive, and many other creative variations, but when you remember that these are kids practically competing to eat and to stay alive, the initial surge of enjoyment fades away. There are so many moral elements in it that I wonder how I would’ve thought of the book had I read it at a younger age. It’s easy to get lost in the action and excitement, but when you look deeper into the story, it gives you a complex paradox as the line between standing for what is right and fighting for your life begins to blur.

All the while I was reading the book, my emotions were all over the place: I was sweating, my heart thumping as I hid up the trees, waiting and not waiting for my death; I was gasping for dear life, running as fast as I could for the flames not to engulf me; I was in deep concentration to send that arrow precisely to where I wanted it to be; I was chilling as I curled up in my sleeping bag inside a cave while the storm ravages everything outside; I was part of the story!

The Hunger Games is proof that writers are one of the most — if not the most — brilliant people in the world. Writers bring to life not only a simple idea transformed into thousands of words, but a person’s entire lifetime: his humanity, his heart and soul. In the case of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ heart is in public view, and what we see is something iridescent and fiery. Suzanne Collins is the reason many people would also want to write.

After experiencing the book, I couldn’t stop telling my friends about it. Grab a copy of The Hunger Games now, as well as the two next books in the trilogy, Catching Fire and Mockingjay! Coax, cajole, or force your friends into buying you the boxed set! Threaten them into losing a long-lasting friendship if they don’t do so! Kidding aside, once you have the books, stop whatever you’re doing, pick up this first book, bring all the food you can within reach, and give yourself a quiet place to read for the entire day.

Brace yourself for a thrilling adventure. Let the games begin!

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April 9, 2023 - 12:00am
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