Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I think that I'm the last blogger to have read and reviewed this book but I finally got around to it.  This is technically classified as young adult science fiction but there were some themes that were pretty mature in it and which adults could relate to, perhaps for different reasons.

The setting is the country of Panem. Panem is a fictional country that rises out of what once was the United States, Canada and Mexico.  It seems to be almost a post apocalyptic society in the same way that The Handmaid's Tale was.  The country consists of a wealthy Capitol district in the Rocky Mountains and twelve poorer districts who are known for certain types of industry.  The main character comes from the 12th district - Appalachia - known for its coal mining. There is a 13th district that was torn apart and literally wiped off the map by the Capitol due to a rebellion - it no longer has residents or industry and exists in name only, literally. The story takes place sometime in the future, although we are never told when in the future it takes place. As punishment for the 13th District's Rebellion against the Capitol District, one boy and one girl, aged 12 to 18, from each district is selected to compete in the Government sponsored Hunger Games, which are broadcast live on TV (think Survivor but where the competitors actually die). Each competitor, or tribute, must fight in an undisclosed outdoor arena to the death, until one remains.

Katniss, a fatherless girl from District 12, is the protagonist for this novel. After volunteering to be the girl tribute from her district in order to spare her sister (who is selected), we follow her as she travels through the Capitol and participates in the games.

The major themes in this novel are big government and Big Brother as well as personal independence and freedom, as the government is involved in just about every aspect of their citizens' lives. I wasn't able to put this book down for a second once I started it, to the anger and frustration of my household. Yes, it probably would have gone by quickly simply because it's a young adult book, but it seemed to fly by even faster because it was such a good book. It was entertaining and disturbing and fascinating all at the same time. Very believable and a great read.

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