Sunday, January 15, 2012

100 Books #4 - Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES

Boy am I glad I ditched the "one book per author per year" rule for 2012, because as soon as I'm done with this blog post, I'm starting on this book's sequel.

A classic piece of dystopian science fiction in young adult form, this book is one I would recommend to anyone. While the first person, present tense narration may put many off (including me, usually) and robs the story of a bit of tension (though not as much as as past tense would in this instance), for me that annoyance stopped mattering even before the story proper begins.

This is because the heroine is so damned interesting, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been poaching to feed her family ever since her father died in a coal mining accident (pure Appalachia, this). There is not a moment in this story in which Katniss Everdeen is not hemmed in on all sides by necessity, circumstance and, later on, cruel compulsion -- even before she becomes a player in the titular games.

The story of those games, in which a boy and a girl from each of twelve colonial Districts are exacted by the nation's capitol as tribute to remind everyone who's boss (in this resource-poor, attenuated future North America, respect for authority is hard to come by naturally and hence a permanent hostage program is believed to be needed) and then forced to kill each other off, Highlander-style, for the capitol's entertainment on reality TV, would be interesting enough, but Collins takes this all a bit further: what the story is about is how Katniss, the boy from her District, and their handlers and mentors first take the Games by storm and then subtly subvert them. It's all ever so slightly Firefly.

And so you'll understand now why I have to go. Catching Fire, and then Mockingjay, await.

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