Hunger Games

19Mar10

from borders

I finally read Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, and it’s about time. This was a good book. Others have noticed its similarity to The Lightning Thief and that really interests me. Certainly they both are geared to the late preteens out there with a lot of action and a strong first person protagonist. They are both compelling page-turners. Both, too, are hero’s journeys in the Joe Campbell mold.

I found The Hunger Games more affecting.

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic America in which the dominant state demands a tribute (like Minos’s tribute from the Athenians) of a boy and a girl to fight in their annual reality show, in which all but one must die. Katniss, our reluctant heroine, is not the one drawn in the annual “reaping”, which the authorities force the citizens of the subject states to “celebrate” each year. Collins skewers pop culture reality shows here with an eye as accurate as that of her archer/hunter stand-in for Theseus–Katniss. Katniss volunteers as a stand-in for her beloved 12 year old sister.

Perhaps one reason I’m more taken with Hunger Games than with Lightning Thief is the fact that Katniss is 16 while Percy Jackson is 12. The additional layer of understanding makes a difference: Jackson’s relationships with Annabeth have more of a pre-teen crush quality, while the feeling is there that Katniss and Peeta may be playing for keeps.

from Amazon

And while Jackson’s ambivalent relationship with his father is played out on an Olympian stage (I’ll forcibly restrain myself from making the obvious analogy of the televised Hunger Games with the Olympics here), Collins deals with Katniss’ ambivalent relationship with her mother with a lighter hand, and the underlying rebellious feelings are directed toward the brutal dehumanization of the citizens of Panem by hunger and need, and then by the use of normalization of the murder of children–tributes–in a game that says your children are only useful as our entertainment, and if you attempt to value them more than we do, you risk not only your own death but the deaths of all you love: pop cultural tropes to normalize what should never be normal.

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2 Responses to “Hunger Games”

  1. Wow, this article is good, my sister is analyzing such things, so
    I am going too convey her.


  1. 1 The Book Thief « FreePlayTherapy

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