I ONCE SAID that reading “The Hunger Games” was like reading a video game. Apparently it can also be made to sound like the song “Video Games”:
One copy each of
“The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” are now in my possession. They could be yours, if the odds are in your favor. My thoughts on each below.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Read if you liked The Running Man and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Yours if you want it.
IN A PREVIOUS ERA, a popular young adult character was assured that “Life is a game,” to which he replied: “Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. No game.” Given the chance, Katniss Everdeen, the sixteen year-old heroine of “The Hunger Games,” might have identified with Holden Caulfield’s thinking, though in a considerably more literal way. As it is, there is no indication that any copies of “The Catcher in the Rye” exist in her district of Panem, “the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America.” Panem is your standard dystopia: distant future; post-war society; impoverished districts held under the thumb of a shiny, sophisticated and paranoid government. Suzanne Collins, however, adds some interesting tweaks, most notably (for me anyway) that instead of a bleak post-nuclear landscape, Panem is a grim post-climate change world where instability and scarcity have led to massive bloodshed.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
It’s a deep burn, so deep.
“CATCHING FIRE” IS A CLASSIC second entry in the sci-fi, fight-the-power-trilogy tradition. Whereas in the first round people must begin to resist and reluctant, unlikely heroes must come into their roles, the second must show the battle essentially started, with sides chosen and things at their most grim. The full might and cruelty of the bad guys must be demonstrated and the good guys must realize and be daunted by how hard it is to chew what they have bitten off. In the model of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the middle entry is usually also the best of the three.
“Catching Fire” meets most, if not all of these criteria.