Friday, 26 November 2010

The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins

I recently found a trilogy that was of particular interest. Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy is fascinating and well-written.

These books tell the story of Katniss, a 16 year old girl whose father has died in a coal mine explosion. She spends most of her waking moments hunting in the forest, beyond the electrified fence that 'imprisons' her and the District 12 residents. She hunts to feed her family and to stay alive.

The time is the distant future. Their country is called Panem: the residents live in poverty. Panem (North America) is divided into 13 districts that surround the Capitol. Once a year, the leaders of the Capitol hold the Hunger Games. Two children from each district are chosen to compete to the death. The winner's district will receive more food; the winner will receive a new home and wealth.

The children are brought up in a propogandized world so that many look forward to the "honour" of competing in the games. Katniss, however, recognizes the brutal truth of the games and when her younger sisters' name is chosen, she steps up to volunteer.

The three books tell the story of the games and their aftermath.
Marketed as a YA series, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay appeal to a much broader audience than young teens with an interest in science fiction. The plot moves quickly, keeping readers turning pages and drawing them along with the suspense of the story. The central characters are well developed – flawed yet likeable, determined, resourceful, intelligent and passionate.

The deeper themes ensure that older readers and teens looking for more substance will find plenty to sink their teeth into. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire offer numerous opportunities to consider the influence of propaganda and political manipulation, the complex nature of trust and loyalty and the limits of human endurance (physical, emotional and mental) in a manner reminiscent of George Orwell's classic 1984.

There are elements of violence, as can hardly be surprising when the first novel is a description of a gladiator-like battle between children between the aged of 12 and 18. While descriptions of violent acts are never graphic, the underlying menace and brutality of The Hunger Games themselves has a significant emotional impact and will perhaps make these stories unsuitable for sensitive readers or those under the age of 13.
The science fiction aspects of the novels are evident in the futuristic setting and some technological advancement, but the characters could easily have been set in a more familiar modern setting and those readers who usually avoid science fiction should find the sci-fi aspects of these novels reasonably unobtrusive. Source
This trilogy is dystopian in nature. While it does evoke Orwellian comparisons as the reviewer, above, suggests; it also brings Huxley's Brave New World and other dystopias to mind.

I really like reading this sort of book. I find the author's ability to create a completely different world that is both believable and haunting to be a wonderful craft. I like how it makes me question humanity and makes me think about our very own world.

The books are 'page turners,' keeping the reader enthralled from beginning to end. That they have been written for young adults does not make them any less enjoyable for the adult reader. Perhaps the writing isn't as challenging, but the themes and story itself are definitely adult worthy. The only reason adults wouldn't enjoy these books is because they are not fans of sci-fi, not because they aren't quality works.

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