Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

My reaction to this book was very interesting. I was so repulsed by the subject matter I considered putting it down after a few chapters. But I kept reading because both my kids raved about it. This is significant from my son because he reads so much, and significant from my daughter because she almost never reads if she's not forced.

Anyway, the subject matter is 24 teenagers chosen by lottery who are all forced to fight to the death--only one wins. This annual event is sponsored by the government and all citizens (including families of the teenagers) are forced to watch--it's televised live. Yes, I'm a mother of teenagers, which probably didn't help my perception of it, but I think many (most?) people would be a little disturbed by the concept. I couldn't help being a little uncomfortable that my kids had read it, but then again, maybe it's good for them to read something like that and think about why it's so wrong? The story takes place in a future America, so in that way it sort of has a 1984 feel to it--that maybe the creation of a concept that is repulsive to us might help ensure it doesn't turn out to be a prophecy?

It's a YA novel, published by Scholastic, and despite the subject matter the author did a really good job of minimizing the gore without making it seem like it was glossed over. Even though the world the characters live in is so far removed from what American Teenagers are used to, the reader can easily relate to many typical teenage emotions, and can imagine the terror in the games.

In the end, I kept reading because of the characters. Every one of them has complexities that make them interesting. The main character, Katniss, evolves and learns and grows in her emotions, in some ways losing part of who she is and in some ways learning to think differently. And then, I HAD to see how the story would resolve itself. How could Katniss possibly keep her innocence and still win a game in which all other contestants have to die?

The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy. The second book (Catching Fire) is in the hands of my daughter and I can't read it until she's finished.

And I actually want to. The Hunger Games ends at the end of the games, but I'm hoping to see the government punished for it's brutal treatment of children (and families, actually).

You know, it's interesting how the Capitol citizens in the book are so completely narcissistic and so obsessed with their ultimate "reality show." It makes me uncomfortable how it may not be too far removed from today's United States. Again, 1984--maybe we won't go that far.


  1. The Hunger Games was so good and so is the sequel.. Can't wait for book 3 :D

  2. I would feel the same way about it before reading it--and I haven't read it. I'm just identifying with you. I'm also the mom of a 12 year old. I've tried a few YA books, but haven't been able to get into them as much. I guess it's because I'm a die-hard historical fan, but I do love contemporary women's fiction and romance.

    On another note, I hated the novel 1984, even when I was forced to read it as a teen.