Monday, March 19, 2012
Hunger Games review
I figured it to be some kind of post apocalypse world on the vein of Rollerball, and it has elements of 1984 and Animal Farm in it as well. The two Rollerball films glorify the violence. This book lets the reader know that children dying for the entertainment of the populace is the ultimate horror. Since these books were written for Young Adults most of the deaths are out of sight and revealed more as box scores at the end of the day.
I don't want to get into the plot because just about everyone out there is telling it. I'm going to give my take on what it was like to read all three of the books.
Premise and violence: In the first fifty pages it was hard to read through the tears. I don't recall ever reading someone who could tug at your heart strings so quickly and hold you for so long without wanting to close the book and walk away. I was drawn into the world, the characters and their plight.
In the games there is a character named Rue that captures your heart completely and as a reader you knew she had to die for Katniss to win and go on to the second and third books, but her death is devastating.
This reminded me of something Harlan Ellison wrote in either his book The Glass Teat or The Other Glass Teat (not sure which and too lazy to find out). He was castigating Movies, Television and viewers on the mindless, numbing violence offered and viewed. He wrote the articles in The Rolling Stone later compiled into the books in the late 60's. Very tame by today's Friday the 13th, Saw type of movies or even the CSI's, Closer type of TV shows. (the escalation in violence to satisfy viewers and readers appetites proves his point ie. Spartacus on Showtime and many video games that glorify carnage) He said for violence to have effect it had to follow certain parameters. 1 for a protaganist to resort to violence it has to be the last resort. Think Quaker woman Eliza Birdwell picking up a broom and clobbring a rebel raider about to kill her pet goose Samantha in Friendly Persuasion. 2. A death has to happen to a character the audience identifies with. When a person dies on screen or in a book you want it to have an impact. You want the reader to scream "No" while it's happening and weep at the loss. Think the death of Mariko in Shogun by James Clavell. When it's done right it's unforgettable and Suzanne Collins hit a bullseye with Rue.
Theme: I've read many books describing the horrors of totalitarian rule. It's part and parcel with Science Fiction/Fantasy. Take the power mad Valdemorte out of Harry Potter and there's no conflict hence no story. Most of these books and movies deal either with filling the reader with dread the oppression or have a hero become superhero conquering the evil Ming or Captain Nemo saving humanity. In these books Katniss is the spark for revolution by subtle defiance and The Capital's over reaction causes the revolution. She's a teenage Rosa Parks thrown off the bus or Ghandi kicked off the train and the whole world says they've had enough of the bully. Ms Collins said the books follow a simple arc: book 1 defiance, book 2 revolt, book 3 war.
Timing: While reading the HG it made me think of the way Arab Spring started. The book was published in 2008 meaning Ms Collins was very precient and with the movie hitting movie screens Friday there couldn't be better timing for the message she wishes to convey to her audience.
Fast Read: All the books are told in first person and because you're not stumbling over needless description and backstory for every character it doesn't take long to polish off 300+ pages. With three books to get through this is a real positive.