The Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins
One of the best things about futuristic science fiction is that it takes trends that are present in today’s world and forecasts them into the future: What is the worst place that this trend could go and what are the factors that would occur to get it there? There’s always more to the book than that—a story should always be greater than any one concept or issue—but that’s where it starts.
The Hunger Games takes the schadenfreude of reality television—the entertainment factor of watching other people fall apart, fight each other, struggle for survival, and so on—and takes it to a new level. Every year, two teenagers from each of the twelve districts scattered across what used to be North America are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games: a televised competition sponsored and organized by the government. The twenty-four contestants have to fight each other for survival and the only way to win is to be the last one left alive. Katniss Everdeen is used to hardship and hunger and she’s been hunting illegally for years to keep her family fed, but none of that can prepare her for the fact that the other contestant from District 12 is a boy who once showed her kindness in the darkest, lowest hour of her life, when no one else was willing or able to help her. Now they are forced to be rivals, because only one person can survive the Hunger Games.
At first, I wasn’t sure about the plausibility of the Games. Would the government really start them and keep them up year after year just as a kind of revenge against the Districts for the attempted rebellion that happened generations ago? The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized what the true effect of the Games is. Partly it is entertainment for the citizens of the Capitol who don’t have any tributes of their own in the games, which keeps it all a step removed for them. The Games also create division among the Districts. For the wealthier ones where there’s a good chance of winning, the Games represent more of an opportunity than a form of oppression, and without the help of those districts, what chance do the poorer districts have of winning a rebellion? The Hunger Games quite literally cause the districts to fight against each other instead of against the Capitol. It’s a method of prevention against another rebellion and it seems to be quite effective. The only way to fight back is through unity.
I am sometimes wary of books that have been excessively publicized and are insanely popular, but I think this one deserves the hype. I really, thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait until I have the time to read the sequel. This book should make one excellent movie, too. Of course I’ve said that about other things and regretted it, so perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon, but I always get my hopes up. I can’t help it.