I realize I am out of it when it comes to many things, specially as far as my teenaged kids are concerned. But on Christmas my son, who was with his mom, sent me the Hunger Games Trilogy on my kindle. We were in Florida and he was scheduled to arrive that evening to go to tennis camp. His instructions were clear, “Dad read book one by the time I arrive.”
I follow orders when it comes to my son. He later told me that he has read book one no less than seven times. My first time through was something of an awakening.
For any other parents out there who have yet to discover the newest series of books about to be made into blockbuster films (the first film is set to arrive in March, with anticipation so great that NPR’s story yesterday was entitled “Is ‘The Hunger Games’ Building Too Much Buzz For Its Own Good?“), think a little bit Harry Potter, a little bit Twilight (female protagonist caught in a love triangle between two equally deserving young men) and a lot of The Road and even more Lord of the Flies.
The centerpiece of the story is a giant Quidditch match to the death. This is post-apocalyptic America where one district dominates all others. To remind the twelve remaining submissive districts of the “Capitol’s” strength each year a lottery selects a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts to compete in Hunger Games in which the teenagers are forced to fight to the death over a series of days while it broadcast as the sporting event of the year. To make matters worse the districts are starved of food. If they want to feed their young they have to ask for government assistance, which increases the chance that their child will be selected as a “tribute” to be forced into the following year’s Games.
The books are a chilling reminder of were we all might be headed, reminiscent in a way of Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story in which modernity has robbed the main characters of their humanity but the story is about how they scratch and claw to reclaim that which they have lost.
It’s worth the read. And, yes, I am looking forward to the films despite having to put up with Donald Sutherland as the supreme bad guy.