I managed to read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins .
A critical success, The Hunger Games exceeded a little bit my expectations. Even if it’s an easy read, it catches the reader by not being dull, or by refraining on action. Well written, it puts the reader in the skin of the characters.
We have a girl, young lady, Katniss Everdeen, who is much more mature for her age of 16, living in a dark future where she has to take care of her family, working something which is not really fit for her powers: hunting in the woods for wild animals which they can eat or exchange for other goods.
She lives in the most poor districts of a future fictional country, where the biggest attraction are the so called Hunger Games, where 24 children kill each other in the arena. I find everything in the book pleasing and believable, except the fact that the kids have to kill each other in a televised show for the fun of everyone in the country. The author clearly wanted to emphasize on something very painful for the eye, to underline the clear absurdity and pain of such a show. I would expect and think it’s more believable to have full grown men in such a dark spectacle, let alone children.
So the ridiculous of the situation is a bit too much, to see young children of age 12 being killed, is hardly an idea of a good spectacle, most likely in any dark future.
To get past that, we have Katniss, a young girl, who has a role in life to take care of her mother and younger sister, and develops all the skills she can do, at her age, to achieve that. She has a hunting partner, and they bring back home anything they can muster in the wilds.
Katniss is a bit naive, a bit childish, and is not much interested in personal growth. Which is understandable considering her situation, lost father in childhood, and not questioning yet life motifs and reasoning.
She would do anything for her family, and offers herself as a tribute to the Games instead of her younger sister, knowing this most likely means her end. Her noble spirit and self sacrifice are most commendable.
We see her exploring the Capitol, the capital of the fictional realm, where everybody is wealthy, and her preparation for the Games, which is a deadly reality TV show, pretty well pictured, with sponsors, attractions, interviews , depicted very well, but still giving a lot of mock-up impression of the reality shows of today’s media.
At some point it reminds me of Jim Carrey’s movie The Truman show.
Katniss is small, weak, injured, poor, but she can master a bow, and has a natural intelligence. Through her journey in the arena, she finds friends, she finds enemies, she gets hurt, she finds pain, she finds relief, she learns to lie, she learns to pretend, she learns to cry and to withhold.
Together with the boy from her district, they manage to find a solution to win, even if this means defying the Capitol, even if it means killing, even if it means lying and playing the love part for the audience.
I find it very pleasing that The Hunger Games did not turn into a soapy love story between Katniss and her fellow boy tribute Peeta, considering they win together, play the romance for the public, and defy the Capitol to win together.
The depicted pain and sorrow is challenging, and the reality of the hurting is also well described. The bitter feeling is still there, of the remorse, of the ludicrous of the situation. The general feeling is that the children, and poor people, have much more common sense, love, caring, and attention that we would expect, much more than the grown ups themselves, who are much more interested in blood bath than anything else.
We also see the resemblance of the vicious circle in communist regimes, nobody likes it, but everyone praises it, and it’s still going, because nobody has the courage to step up and stop the illusion.
Overall a good read, even although sometimes predictable, The Hunger Games is a success and a pointed finger towards media and the ludicrous of the modern day television.