My daughter recently read The Hunger Games and loved it. She strongly encouraged me to read it also. Since there is so much hype about the book and film, and the fact that the film was shot around the area that I live, I figured I should read it. I was not disappointed.
Basically, the book is a modern dystopian story intended for younger audiences. That is not to say that older readers won’t enjoy it. I certainly did, and I’m not young anymore. The story struck me as sort of a combination between Rollerball and The Lottery, with a touch of 1984. I’ve read commentary that the story is very similar to Battle Royale, but since I have not seen or read that one, I really can’t comment on it.
One of the strongest aspects of the book is how it addresses people’s attitudes toward oppressive governments. The story is filled with vignettes depicting the characters’ attempts to defy an authority that seeks to repress and control its citizens. One passage in particular stands out: “They take place in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence.” (p. 20) In a society that demands the ostentatious support of its people, this form of non-violent resistance can be powerful.
Not surprising, but one of the central themes in the book is hunger, and the fact that whoever controls the food and water supply controls the people dependent on it for survival. I often think about how precarious our food supply is. Having gone through Hurricane Andrew, I saw first hand how quickly food can run out, and how desperate people become when they are hungry. All over the world, there are people who are starving and malnourished. I’m sure many of them feel the way Katniss does: “What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?” (p. 49)
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic book: well written, engaging, and exciting. I’ve heard some people say that the writing was not that great, but I disagree, and to back up my view, I’ll cite a short passage that so eloquently captures the feeling that I had as a youth exploring the woods at night, that there is no doubt in my mind regarding Ms Collins’ skill as a writer.
The woods always look different at night. Even with the glasses, everything has an unfamiliar slant to it. As if the daytime trees and flowers and stones had gone to bed and sent slightly more ominous versions to take their places. (p. 196)