Saturday, February 4, 2012

ReView of 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins

Science Fiction / YA - 374pgs
Scholastic Press (first published 2008)

Gripping.  Moving.  Profound.  Universal.  Mesmerizing

'He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of the place that was once called North America.  He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the enroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained.  The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol.  Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated.  The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.'

'The rules of the Hunger Games are simple.  In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes to participate.  The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wastelasnd.  Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must  fight to the death.  The last tribute standing wins.'

'the real message is clear. 'Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there's nothing you can do.  If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you.  Just as we did in District Thirteen.' To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capital requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against others. the last tribute alive receives a life of ease back home, and their district will be showered with prizes, largely consistening of food.'

In the process of establishing and laying out a plot of wild imagination, Suzanne Collins accomplishes in giving us a heroine of tremendous depth, a sixteen year old girl named Katniss.  It's possible Katniss had luck on her side, or possible that her lifestyle might have prepared her for such a fortuitous event when she found herself volunteering for the Hunger Games in the place of her younger sister. Most likely the measure of her character and brave soul allowed her to remain alive and survive the tribulations of the Hunger Games.  Something about Katniss reminds you of yourself; something maybe you even desire or aspire to be.

The story you find in this novel is consistently exciting, always changing and evolving as if it is truly alive. More so, it is saturated with the real human spirit.  Reading a seemingly world of fiction, although possibly finding yourself closer to the subliminal interpretation of our unfolding present.

The nature of the games is for entertainment as much as it is political.  The idea that violence and bloody killings are a form of sport the majority of our population craves to watch is not far-fetched.  Take for example thrillers, violent video games, and movies surrounding murders.  It doesn't excuse the fact that it's just plain twisted for the reasons it is established in this book.  The Hunger Games are about giving the audience what they want, putting on a show, setting up the pretense and omitting the real lives behind it all, forcing the youth against one another to kill each other while the whole world is watching, applauding, and condoning it.  It's setting the wealthy against the poor and putting to the test their intelligence and physical abilities while hiding the real struggles and causes of their existence that have to do more with those in power than themselves.

Katniss is smart enough to keep perspective and rationale in order to survive, in order to come back to her family, in order to make this bigger than she is.  She is aware what she is part of and uses the knowledge she's been able to observe about the Hunger Games. She anticipates what is happening or might be likely to happen.  Of course she has other tricks up her sleeve and some luck that keeps her alive.

To top it off, there's also a young love story at play.  And for that you'll have to be riveted while reading the novel.... plus it has such a huge impact on the ending.  The ending, by the way, is one that will stay with you - quite the effective finishing touch.

This novel reminds me of the feelings I had for '1984.'

It is, no doubt, a revolutionary novel, it WILL bring about a major change in how you see the world.

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