So my friend Heather gave me this book the other day. . . . she has pretty good taste, so I started reading . . . . then I couldn’t stop. The book was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and I am hooked. . .
The premise is that we are in a post-apocalyptic North America where The Capitol is in charge, and the rest of the country is divided into twelve districts, each with it’s own role in serving the capital – agriculture, mining, industry, etc. Because the districts rebelled generations ago, the Capitol now holds an annual event called The Hunger Games; for the Games, each district must submit the name of one teenage girl and one teenage boy (chosen by lottery) to participate. During the Games themselves, the teens are put in a crafted arena, where their ultimate goal is to be the last to survive. Think Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” meets LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” meets Orwell’s 1984, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the book is like.
As I reflect on my reading experience, I can’t say that I can really pinpoint what made me enjoy the book so much that I stayed up quite late reading it. It might be that Katniss, the main character, is quite endearing in her scornful strength and absolute devotion to her family. Maybe, the pacing is just expertly done. It could be that I just loved the various literary overlays that I could see in the story. Whatever it was, I really enjoyed it.
For those of you worried about the Games and the violence, I have to say it was well-handled. It’s not downplayed or trickily avoided; people really die, and they die violently. But the descriptions aren’t gruesome, and the overall political angle on the book makes us find the violence reprehensible but the perpetrators humane and sometimes quite endearing.
If you like sci-fi, young adult fiction, or great political stories, this book is a great choice. Just be sure to give yourself a day to read it since it’s quite hard to put down.