I recently had the pleasure of reading Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I have to start off by saying how awesome they were. I finished all three books in three days, but it would have been two, had I not had a crazy day at work on my first day of reading them. And when i finally finished reading them, I had an empty pit in my stomach.
I couldn’t decide why I felt so empty. Was it due to the fact that these characters felt so honest, and so real, that it was sad that their story was finished? Or was it that that the story was so raw, and too frightening as a possible reality (a dystopian world where kids had to kill each other)? I still haven’t decided. It’s probably a combination of both reasons, really. And why did these books affect me so much? While I consider the books are classics, but not the same caliber, as Ulysses. James Joyce, Collins is not. But she does build a vivid world filled with suffering and interlaced with with brief moments of humor and hope.
These books started a love, and addiction, to the characters, akin to my love of Coca Cola (or polar bears). They are close to being as awesome, in my opinion, to the Harry Potter books. Cue the braiding my hair sideways, and my sister buying an archery kit for us to practice with. I even bought myself a District 11 shirt (because Rue is awesome, and because that’s where thecapitol.pn put me).
What makes these books so addicting is all the characters are extremely likable. While they do all have their faults (some are cold, some are dumb puppies, others are too blindsided by their causes), you can find yourself wanting to know each of the main characters. The other amazing thing about this trilogy is that there is a female protagonist who actually kicks butt.
And she isn’t just any female protagonist. She’s a strong willed female character. She’s not like Bella, who is happy to wait for her boys to fight over her. Katniss, though clearly in like (we can’t exactly describe it as love at first), also realizes that she doesn’t need anybody to survive or to be happy. She could do fine just on her own. And it’s this realization which eventually has her realize who she really wants (not needs) to be with. And the readers find us chanting along with Katniss. We can’t decide who we want her with, either. Some of us want her with Peeta, naturally. Others wanted her with Gale. And a few could see her with both.
And while one may think it’s a book simply about teen angst, these novels are more than that. They are, obviously, a fight of good and evil, but also the idea that too much power is not good for one person. One side used power for evil, setting children to fight against children, and another side used power for ‘good’ food and comfort for everyone. But in both cases, they were overexerting themselves over the general populace. The populace never actually got to decide anything for themselves. And it’s this idea, this inequality, that so brings to mind past, present and future politics.
This is where I wonder why this so-called pageant (yes, they do use these terms in the books), is even called the Hunger Games. I think a title using the word Murder would be more appropriate, as that is really what the tournament is about, but then I guess the leaders of the Capitol had to give it a more appealing nature to their citizens.
This book only served to remind me, that yes, this hasn’t happened for us, but it has happened for children in war torn nations across the world. Not this exactly, but nothing much better. Why is it okay for kids to be taken and used in wars and battles? And after reading and watching the movie, it made me worry, “am I much better than a citizen of the Capitol, reading and watching a story about kids fighting each other?” One would like to think so, and I try to remind myself of the differences. But I can’t help but wonder.