“The greatest multiplex in the universe is in your mind, and the only ticket you need is a good, well-written novel.” Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I agree with Zafon. But still, I can’t wait for The Hunger Games movie. If it’s good, that will be partly because it’s based on a fantastic young adult novel.
On March 23, Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Primrose, Cinna, Rue and the rest of The Hunger Games’ characters will come to life on the big screen, as will the world of Panem, the futuristic North American country that emerged after climate change and war.
As YA literature goes, The Hunger Games is controversial. Every year in this harsh dystopia, twenty-four teenagers, two from each of the poor districts that serve the ruling Capitol district, are chosen in a “reaping” to fight to the death. The last contender alive wins.
These teens, some as young as twelve, kill each other on TV to entertain the Capitol citizens; their families get to watch them suffer and die.
A New York Times reviewer observed that the reality show motif adds complexity to the drama of alliances made and broken for the sake of survival. In this “double storytelling,” Katniss and Peeta must put on a good show because the audience favorites may win a share of mercy from the unseen game masters.
We, the readers, are privy to Katniss’ innermost thoughts and feelings, while we watch her present a false self to the cameras. She and Peeta form a bond that, for Katniss, may or may not be love. They play up their romance to captivate their viewers while they play out their “true” relationship under cover. Except, for all concerned, it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which.
And, in the end, they both know one of them will have to kill the other.
The Hunger Games is, in part, a nightmarish look at a culture of reality shows taken to an extreme.
It strikes me that young people are always “on.” They have never known life without incessant friending and following and posting. I’m ambivalent, to say the least, about the constant staging of oneself that’s necessary now if you don’t want to be completely out of the mainstream.
In fact, it’s getting harder to deliberately choose privacy and anonymity. Recently, in a nearby town, over a dozen teen-age girls developed an illness with symptoms resembling Tourette Syndrome. Reporters and television cameras have besieged the town in an unrelenting media storm. The story has gone viral.
It’s not just news. It has become our entertainment.
For peace of mind, some of the girls have given up social media altogether, at least for the time being.
Back to The Hunger Games - there is still time to read or reread it before the movie comes out. My niece, a soon-to-become librarian, is a big fan of The Hunger Games. She wears a mockingjay necklace (a mockingjay is a bird that symbolizes liberation from the evil Capitol) and knows everything there is to know about the upcoming movie. In fact, I found out about the movie when she posted the trailer online.
I saw it because I’m her friend on Facebook.
What was your Hunger Games book?
Did you have a Hunger Games book when you were growing up? A sci fi kind of book about a different world, that made you feel alive on every page? With a heroic character so real you could step inside his/her skin?
Tell us your Hunger Games book in the comments. I’ll tell you mine in my next post. Hint: It’s the 50th anniversary of this book’s publication.