The book “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins was written for and made popular by the young adult population. I had heard of it, in name only, months before I picked it up at the store. One day while in Target, I made my way past the book section and almost walked past it. I stopped and went into reverse and picked it up to read the back of it, curious to know what the story was about. I wondered: Is this just some thrilling, sit at the edge of your seat kind of story, or is there more to it than that, I asked myself. Does this book have substance? Is it trying to communicate something beyond the storyline. Does it serve a purpose beyond “entertainment” value… upon reading the back of this book, I knew the answer was YES!
There are several angles you can take when reading this book: 1.) you can view it as a mere piece of work that does nothing but focus on violence/and violent acts. The concept and disturbing element where teenage children are pinned and forced to compete against eachother where only one can survive, I won’t kid, can be an off-putter to those who are not able to look past this concept and see how it fits into the stories entirety.; 2.) you can view this book as violent/thrilling story infused with love and loss; or 3) you can also look at this book as a book that contains violence, but see that it is really not ABOUT violence, but that it is simply used as a tool to communicate a bigger idea, a larger point. But what point would that be?
Often good books, such as The Hunger Games, are a reflection of the society. This book does just that. It reflects OUR culture as North Americans. Panem (the fictional country –in the story- that stands where North America once existed) exhibits similar traits to the current North America that stands today. Both present a culture that promotes violence via live tv. Look at today’s reality tv such as boxing, cage fighting, and the like. We watch these people (athletes) cause eachother harm, while they gain sponsorship and others wage bets on who will win and who will lose… Sounds just like Collins’ Panem. Though unlike Panem, the citizens of North America aren’t forced to watch these televised events. If given the choice, many people within the Panem districts would opt to not watch the Hunger Games if they were at liberty to do so.
This is a BIG book with political undertones. It addresses the role of government. Or rather raises the questions: Do people have a say and have control of their government, or governmental process, or does the government have ultimate control? This book, in its story, chooses to take a look at what life is like with the latter. In the Hunger Games, the people of Panem are pawns, pieces to a game, and have no control or power. The citizens are merely examples to be made of. Freedom doesn’t exist here. The government, in the effort to show its power, controls its people through the fear and creation of the live annual tv event, The Hunger Games, required to be viewed by all the citizens of Panem.
The pages of this book found themselves dampened from the watery eye faucets in my head throughout key parts/scenes which have the ability to truly speak to the human condition of love, sacrifice, and loss. The strength and vulnerability of the human condition both physically and emotionally, as well as the violence and the methods used for survival, remind me that although these are merely characters in a fictional world, they exhibit such a humanness that isn’t hard to immediately connect with.
As a written piece of work, how does it stand? In my opinion, if it had legs, I’ll tell you that they are strong and capable enough of running up a 100 foot tree in a moments notice. It was written at the reading level of the young adult community, though it hooked a 32 year old mother of two due to its fast paced nature and well thought out message(s). Props to Suzanne Collins.
With that, I leave you all for now. Im off to read “Catching Fire,” the second book in the series. Upon finishing, I intend on coming back and sharing my thoughts with all of you. Stay tuned… (and definitely feel free to comment.. I hope you do.) -D
Click here to purchase this great read or learn more about Suzanne Collins “The Hunger Games.”