So I think I've blogged about The Hunger Games multiple times on this site, but each time I read it, I get a new-found appreciation for it. This read through was specifically for a class that I am taking this semester called the Heroic Tradition in Children's Literature. So far, we have read The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Hobbit, The 101 Dalmatians, and Rilla of Ingleside. It has been an interesting class so far, and the rest of the semester proves to be the same.
Now, The Hunger Games. I think by now, most people know what this book is about, but I will give a very brief synopsis. Every year, Panem puts on the Hunger Games, a competition where children between the ages of 12 and 17 fight to the death in an arena like setting, for the "entertainment" of the rest of the country. Katniss Everdeen has grown up in this society and only worries about one thing: keeping her younger sister, Prim, out of the Hunger Games.
With the third movie coming out in November, The Hunger Games is a hot topic at the moment, though I would argue that it has been a hot topic since it first came out in 2008. And for good reason. The Hunger Games is fast-paced, and always keeps the readers turning the pages. In high school, when I first read the book, I was in a book club called BBYA, where our librarians would get galley copies of books, and we would read them, and then meet on a regular basis to discuss these books. I remember when they got a copy of The Hunger Games and told everyone they absolutely had to read it. And everyone did. And we were all obsessed. While the subject of The Hunger Games is gruesome and at parts, difficult to read, Katniss Everdeen is such a riveting character that we're all drawn to her, to find out what happens. How will the story pan out?
The Hunger Games can't be read without getting any of the social commentary, which I think is more present in this book than most other YA dystopian novels (like Divergent or The Maze Runner for example). With the way Suzanne Collins has set up the Districts in the novel, it can be considered representative of our own class system in the United States. The upper class lives in luxury, in safety, while the lower classes struggle to survive day to day. Personally, I think this is one of the things that draws me to this book every time. The Hunger Games sends a powerful message, and it is so eerily similar to our own society that it isn't hard to picture this happening to us as well. While our society is steadily falling apart (just look at the news on any given day), we read dystopian novels to remind ourselves that it could be worse, that it hasn't gotten quite that bad yet. The government is sending kids to kill each other. The sun hasn't scorched the Earth. There aren't zombies running around trying to kill us. We're still surviving, and dystopian novels give us the hope that if something did happen, we would still have the chance to survive.
But back to The Hunger Games. Writing wise, Suzanne Collins does a good job of setting the scene, and creating a realistic picture of the society she's created. By narrating it in first person from Katniss's point of view, the reader can feel like he/she is really in the story, experience Katniss's experiences firsthand. And why wouldn't they want to be Katniss? She's brave, selfless, and doesn't take anything from anyone. She's willing to do anything for her sister, Prim, who's sweet and kind and the type of little sister anyone would want. Peeta and Gale (while creating that ever present love triangle) are fleshed out, foils of each other. The novel is well-crafted, and hints at things to come in later novels, things that will allow Collins to bring the story full circle.
I could probably go on and on about The Hunger Games, so I will stop here. But if you haven't read it yet, I would highly recommend it. You'll finish it in one night, I almost guarantee it. I don't think we have any reading for this class for a few weeks, so I'm sure what I'll be reading next. I'll pull something off my bookshelf for sure. Until next time, happy reading! :)