Karen's Reviews > The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
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I wasn’t sure I would like this trilogy, but I got drawn into it until I read all three books. Yes, it’s about children killing each other but in a way it echoes what’s going on in the world today.

The stories are set sometime in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic future in a country called Panem, which is located in what used to be North America after it was destroyed by nuclear war. The government leaders in the wealthy Capital rule the surrounding 12 Districts of Panem in a repressive regime. Every year, to punish the Districts for a past rebellion and to prevent future uprisings, the Capitol holds a lottery in which one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each district to fight each other to the death in front of a television audience in a reality-show-on-steroids called The Hunger Games.

This trilogy (“The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire,” and “Mockingjay”) follows the first-person story of Katniss, who volunteers for the Hunger Games in place of her younger sister; the two boys who are her romantic interests in the obligatory love triangle; and how she becomes the public face of the gradual rebellion against the Capitol that she helps to ignite.

The characters are consistent and vividly drawn, if rather predictable; there’s always plenty of action in the plot; and I love how the stories mimic the media-obsessed culture we live in today, in which even gladiators fighting to the death have to have their own costume and make-up teams. The rebellion against the Capitol strikes especially strong in view of the recent “Arab Spring” that took place in repressed countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

Many readers say “The Hunger Games” resembles (or rips off) a 1999 Japanese novel called “Battle Royale.” Since I’ve never read the other novel I can’t say whether it does or not, but I think there’s a good chance the authors of both of these books came up with them independently of each other. All authors borrow from some source; a truly original idea is rare nowadays. The idea of children being sacrificed to appease some hostile deity is as old as the ancient Greeks; schoolchildren killed one another in the book “Lord of the Flies;”and the concept of death games as public entertainment has been the subject of several recent movies such as “Death Race,” so each author had plenty to borrow from.

This trilogy is definitely worth reading as a reflection on how violence affects us, on the instinct toward self-preservation in the face of conflict, and of the world as it could be – and sometimes is – today.
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