The Hunger Games Trilogy

Posted on April 13, 2012


Back in the Dark Ages, when people read books made of paper and discussed them face-to-face with other humans, I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I lived in Middle Earth, even though the world thought I was in grad school, doing whatever it was that grad students did back in the early 70’s. Fill in your own blanks.

I wasn’t inherently a rabid fan of sci-fi, although I certainly read sci-fi along with all other genres.  Gradually, the other genres took over, probably because giving birth twice within 12 months and three days provided ample opportunities to exist in an alternate reality.  Giving birth a third time, kept the alternate reality and the struggle to survive against insurmountable odds going.

Now that I no longer produce children who throw stones into air conditioner compressors to watch them spin around and then fly through the air, I have more time for other pursuits. Enter The Hunger Games, the first series I have read since The Lord of the Rings that has catapulted me so completely into a world of someone else’s creation. In the thousand of books that I have read since The Lord of the Rings, I have been in pre-history to the future, been all over the planet, and have been mesmerized by civilizations of ants, rabbits and cockroaches.   But The Hunger Games has done for me what The Lord of the Rings did. While reading it, I find myself living more in that world than in this.

Is the writing superb? Absolutely not.  Are the characters deep and complex?  No way.  Do the books tell me more about the world or about myself than I know already?  Again, no.  Except maybe yes. The jury is out on that one.

What I do know is that the world that has been created is as different and as the same as the world that we now inhabit.  By reducing the American population to a fraction of what it once was, and by eliminating the rest of the planet, either by reference or by explanation, we see civilization in a Petrie dish  But we are never quite clear who the scientists are.

Both the haves and the have-nots are equally trapped.  The haves, in the absence of true freedom, flaunt the trappings of freedom: the feathers and the glitter and the body adornments. The have-nots, in addition to raising the food and mining the mines and creating the resources that keep the haves alive,  provide the annual entertainment event known as “The Hunger Games.”  The young are the “tributes” of the games, chosen by lottery, and pitted against each other in a surreal and ever-changing arena, in a brutal fight-to-the-death scenario.

I will say no more about the story.  This isn’t a book I tell everyone to rush out and read. But it is a book I say I am reading and am obsessed with.  When I finish, I will go back to books of greater literary merit.  Unless Book 4 comes out.  Then, I fear I will be right back in the world of Panem.