Not since “Lord of the Flies” have I read a book that says so much about society.
A few weeks ago, I picked up “The Hunger Games”… a book geared for children but read by adults. Without giving too much away… here’s my review.
The story takes place in the future… how far, I’m not sure. The premise is that North America was ruined and from it, Panem was born… twelve Districts, each specializing in a particular industry like Agriculture, Technology, Mining… all controlled by the mighty “Capitol”.
The twelve districts are suppressed… living in hardship and separated from the other Districts while the people of the Capitol are happily living blissful, materialistic, sheltered, over-the-top and privileged lives.
There was a 13th, however, a rebellion years before completely annihilated them and to remind the “rebels” that the Capitol is still in charge… “The Hunger Games”.
Each year, from each District, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are “chosen” to take part in the games… . a game that’s played in a technologically advanced, “man made” arena controlling everything from the terrain to the weather… presenting challenges along the way that will both baffle and repulse you. Folks are forced to watch the Hunger Games a la “reality TV”… and the clincher… it’s played to the death.
In essence… people are watching their loved ones kill… suffer… die… and through the process, are forced to watch and oddly, at times, to “celebrate.”
I couldn’t tear myself from the books finishing all three, back to back and when done… was horrified.
While reading, there was a sense of knowledge that none of these things could possibly happen and another that they already are. We can be horrible, vicious, vengeful people.
Remember when Piggy was killed? Stranded on the island… picking leaders… groups… sides… human nature… individual welfare versus the common good? A pig head on a stick attracting flies to represent fear. Remember?
I turned the last page of book three… and cried. Not because it was over and I’d miss the characters as I often feel when I finish a book I’m absorbed in… but because I felt a huge emptiness… a loss of innocence… overwhelming tragedy. This trilogy shows how people will do anything to get what they desire never minding who they destroy in the process… how many fall or the pain they cause.
Just as “Lord of the Flies” made me think and opened my eyes to the nastiness of human nature… so will “The Hunger Games” make our children think.
I hope that from it… they will see the goodness that comes from friendship and family… from trusting and perseverance… from putting others first and protecting those they love. Lessons found deep between the lines on the pages of “The Hunger Games”, “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”.
Lessons I’ll see myself… just as soon as I wipe the horrors from my mind.