Monday, September 5, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

So, the last "dystopia" I read was probably Brave New World.  In high school.  Because I had to.  I don't know why this particular sub-genre weirds me out, but it does.  Really, it's anything futuristic or science fiction-ish.  I've never even seen an episode of Star Trek!  Okay, so now that you know more than you really wanted to know about my sci-fi hang-ups, I'll try to move on!

I read this for my "friend" book club.  Basically just another excuse to get together and chat but we can pretend that it's "intellectual."  I would never have read it on my own (see above) so I was glad for the push to read it.  That's one of the best parts about book clubs, you end up reading something totally different from what you think you like, and generally discover something great in the process.  Oh yeah, the review!

In a strange sort of post-apocyloptic world, a young girl (Katniss) is struggling to help support her family by hunting, foraging, bartering, and generally getting by on her wits.  She lives in one of 12 seperate "districts" all controlled by a distant and aloof "Capital."  Once a year the Capital randomly selects one boy and one girl from each district to come and compete in what they call a game but is really a bloody, bizarre and voyeuristic sacrifice.  When Katniss's little sister is chosen, she instantly volunteers to go in her sister's place.  From 24 children, only one will leave the arena alive after the games are over, while the entire country is forced to watch on television.  It is the Capital's twisted way of keeping the "natives" subdued.  For Katniss, the dilemma becomes how to survive and return to a family who needs her while still maintaining her humanity in the face of deranged brutality.  

This is a roller coaster of a book that will draw you in from the first page.  I really don't even feel as though it can be described well.  What I want to say is just "Go read the book!"  It is disturbing, but also fascinating and thought-provoking.  Particularly as we become more obsessed with reality-television, or as we see deranged dictators being deposed on the nightly news, it does bring up the question of what is actually considered entertainment.  This is certainly a work of fiction, but it does bring to light some less than flattering aspects about our current culture.  

It is worth mentioning that this book is part of a trilogy and while I have only read the first so far, I do hear that they are all excellent.  Stay tuned!   

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