Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone

I wrote a very short review of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” a week or so ago, back when I’d just started the idea of having a book blog.

The review was very short, really, but it took me a while before I could somehow capture the mixed emotions I was having after reading the book. I did not “like it” like it, but it left me with dull pain in my chest and my palms twitching — a sure sign of impact, given my stunted emotional growth.

But even after writing the review I felt that I hadn’t quite hit the nail on the head, like I’d barely scratched the surface on this one. I liked the book, but not expressly for the writing, or the plot. What did I like about it then, and what makes me want to read the sequel?

Then yesterday, it dawned on me.

It was Peeta.

Peeta Mellark, the boy with the bread. It is perhaps no coincidence that his name is Peeta, and he bakes bread.

Peeta Mellark — a lumbering, unwieldy young man whose greatest talent is painting himself with mud and dead leaves to avoid detection. Who knew cake-decorating would qualify as a jungle survival skill?

I’m not very fond of Katniss. She’s interesting, true, with her very remarkable hunting skills and bravery. But it’s Peeta who, without attempting to, really shines and gives the book its humanity. Katniss, for all her courage and intelligence, does not come across as a very “human” character. Could it have been the way she was written, or the way she’s described? It’s difficult to explain, but I find no sympathy for Katniss (except perhaps in her interaction with her sister).

Peeta, on the other hand, is weak and bumbling. He’s brave and well-meaning but he ends up a burden to Katniss. And yet despite all of his flaws, he comes across as genuine and reliable, someone Katniss can actually believe in if she wanted to.

So, the boy with the bread. He’s got my vote on this one.

Man does not live by bread alone, but sometimes bread is all you need.

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