Monday, October 04, 2010

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world consisting of a capital city and thirteen distracts. About 75 years before, there had been a big rebellion and the thirteenth district had been annihilated. The remaining districts were put in their place of servitude to the capital city. To help the districts remember their "place", they have an annual event called the "Hunger Games". In the event, a boy and a girl from each district (chosen at random) are brought together in a fight to the death. The winner is lauded, with their entire district receiving some of the spoils. The losers are, well, dead.

The world is a combination of reality TV and class-stratification gone totally amok. However, the book doesn't spend much time looking in to what would be an interesting civilization. Instead, the focus is on the narrator, Katniss.

As the narrative comes to the drawing for the female participant from her district, it seems certain that she will be called. However, she isn't. Instead, her younger sister is called. However, Katniss volunteers to take her place. We see how the initial part of the games turns to hero worship. She is assigned a stylist and a prep crew who help make her up for the games. She dines like a queen. Everything seems like a dream life - well, except for the part that you will likely be dead soon.

The male participant from her district has had a crush on her for years. (She discovers this on the live television announcement.) Eventually, they both go through the games, with some of their allies being killed, while they do their bit of killing themselves. The "gamemakers" make a rule change allowing a district 'couple' to win together. They then revoke it when they are the only ones left. They attempt to get around this by attempting a double suicide with the poison berries. The gamemakers don't want this, and quickly declare them both winners.

The Hunger Games seems to end clearly, with few open threads demanding a sequel. (Their 'defiance' and willingness to buck the tradition seems to be one route.)

The storytelling is top notch, making this book one that is difficult to put down. However, the story seems lacking. The characters are also ho-hum. The narrator, Katniss, could use a few good slaps to get her to stop being such a jerk. Her fellow district competitor evokes much more sympathy (as do other "enemies", such as "Fox Face") It seems like it was made for a summer tentpole movie - large cast of beautiful teens with the romance to draw in the girls, violence and techno-gadgetry to draw in the adults. Unfortunately, like most of the big summer movies, it entertains you while you are there and that's about it.

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