Friday, May 6, 2011

Fictional Friday 1 (into the Hunger Games)

Gale, Prim, Coin, Effie, Kat, Snow, Boggs, Saliva, Cinna, Beetee, Wiress, Chaff, Rue…Nope, you aren’t at a Hippie Convention.  These are the names of characters in the Hunger Games series. 

The Hunger Games series does not have the same draw with adults that the Twilight and Harry Potter series seem to have.  However, many public schools (at least three districts where I live) have it as required reading for a class, so many middle school and junior high school students have read them.  I’ll start with a brief summary of the series for the moms who haven’t read the books. *Beware, spoilers ahead*

Katniss is the main character throughout the series.  She is tough, emotionally distant, and generally clueless about her own power throughout the story line.  She gets stuck in a love triangle with Gale and Peeta (the first is the home-town hunter and the second competes in the Games with Katniss).  Death hangs over her head in various manners in each of the stories.  She triumphs despite incredible odds against her.

The books are centered around a future society where the government rules by fear.  Two children, one boy and one girl, from each of the 12 districts are chosen at random each year to compete in The Hunger Games (hence the title).  The Hunger Games are basically ancient Roman gladiator games; you can attract sponsors who will give you gifts that will help you, you have to kill your opponents, the “coliseum” is rigged with deadly traps to make things interesting.  Most importantly, this is all done for the amusement of the Capital.  The prize won by the district with the last child alive is an increase in food, thus less of their citizens will die of hunger that year. 

The second book is again a competition in the “coliseum” but with adults (some very old) and our young protagonists.  The third book is the rebel’s fight against the Capital.  Katniss is dragged into the rebel’s fight and made into their propaganda tool.  In the end, the rebels win (using horrible methods) and Katniss is in a position to take out their ruthless leader…which she does. 

I am oversimplifying quite a bit, but I wanted to give you a foundation to stand on so that as we look at this more in depth you have an idea of what is going on.  Some of the topics we will be looking at are:
  • Sacrifice
  • Humility
  • Love (Romance)
  • Family relations
  • Gender Roles
  • Trust (Peers and Adults)
  • Isolation (Loneliness and Abandonment)
  • Death (Fear of and Fascination with)
  • Power
  • Destiny/Luck

I can not say that I liked these books much.  My emotional reaction when reading the books was generally cranky and sad.  My kids didn’t like talking to me when I was reading them. J  I do see a few positive elements in the stories.  There were some nicely handled themes of a strong physical community, the manipulation of media, and the need to see the real truth. 
I would love to hear from others on these books!  There are not as many forums and the forums out there are not very busy.  I would love to hear what you enjoyed about each character you liked.  How did you feel about the killing in the books?  What were your favorite scenes in the book?  Why would you recommend these books to someone else?

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