Monday, July 12, 2010
I started this book thinking the idea was preposterous: a government choosing to squelch rebellion by forcing its citizens to give up their children as contenders in the ultimate reality show of death to the last survivor. Yeah right, and yet it reminded me a lot of the absurdity of the Nazi party. I realized I believed a government could be this arrogant and wrathful. When people are pitted against each other instead of turning on the establishment they often fight each other within the failed system, fighting for that elusive top spot or ignoring the pain of others grateful to escape tragedy themselves.
I soon found myself intensely involved in the Hunger Games and hoping for a certain outcome that would certainly bring about the death of many children but save our brave little heroine. Once you're in, what option do you have but to play and survive? Collins did an amazing job of taking an unbelievable and predictable storyline and making it believable and unpredictable. Complete with an impossible love interest, twists in the arena to keep you guessing, and both sympathy and hatred for the other characters, the book is hard to put down. I stayed up late to reach the conclusion that would seem obvious but was still evasive when I could conceive many alternate endings. In some ways the story reminded me of Lord of the Flies, but without as frustrating of a dues ex machina ending.
I found it interesting that even in this life and death situation, the kids refused to do anything that would displease the capitol and make them look rebellious or unwilling to play, or worse emotional and disturbed by death. They did not bond with each other, help each other, or ever want to be indebted by anyone's kindness. Sad that the gravest error would be vulnerability of spirit because the tough ones are the ones to survive. There is obviously a lot of death hashed out, but only a handful experienced by our narrator. What could have been a gruesome story was handled very tactfully but nonetheless the subject matter is not appropriate for younger children.
My one compliant about the novel would be the overuse of fragments. As a grammar freak, I'll let powerful fragments go. On occasion. As a literary device. But you throw five and six back to back. Just for effect. And all I'm doing is counting. How many are going by before we're back to complete sentences. There were a few paragraphs with way too many. But that's just a style difference. And the story is worth it. A good tale and a thinker.
Even after I closed this book, I found myself mulling over the statements about society, our gruesome need for reality TV, how much a community will let others suffer as long as they are safe, and the strength of the human spirit when backed up against the wall. I enjoyed Katniss' emotionally detached character, Peeta's vulnerable goodness, and Rue's small but fighting spirit. Now I want to learn more about Gale. A good strong female protagonist and a great set up for the sequel which I will be reading. How will the capital be brought down? Who will Katniss chose? Can she stand by and let another gruesome show go by training the tributes from her village without action? I'm intrigued