Guest Post by the esteemed David Koesters
This series was brought to my attention after visiting one of my lawyer friends and hearing her and her law clerk gush about how great it was. But I respect her opinion and promptly checked the first book, The Hunger Games, out from the library to read what all the hubbub-bubbery was about.
My first thought was what kind of Twilight-esque formulaic female teen fiction thing had I gotten myself into? Well I wasn’t disappointed. For those who enjoy campy love-triangle goo tailor-made for young female teens with identity issues, this series is rife. I say that up front to dispel the idea that this is a new and innovative work of fiction. Now, having said that, I will go on to say that I guiltily enjoyed all three books despite the goo. My reasons for enjoying them may, however, be reversely proportional to why the female teens may not enjoy the series.
I’m talking about Orwellian, post-apocalyptic, alternate reality stuff where the world, as they know it, has since been split into 12 producing districts all meant to serve the main capitol Panem ruled by the dictator President Snow. The capitol is inhabited by vain decadent rich folk who have no idea about the hardship faced by the 12 districts whose inhabitants toil to keep them satisfied. On top of that, every year each district must submit two of their own (a male and female) between the ages of 14 and 18 to be sent off to the Hunger Games where the contestants are forced to fight to the death. The games have been running for nearly 75 years and are meant to demonstrate the power the capitol has over them should they want to ever rise up against them again. (Oh yeah, the districts tried to rise up against the capitol 75 years ago. As a result district 13 was destroyed.)
So with all that backdrop, enter protagonist Katniss Everdeen who, you guessed it, comes from a broken family, is fit and attractive though unaware of her sexuality, has to care for her little sister, may be in love with her hunting friend Gale, but is then torn between her feelings of Gale and her soon to be Hunger Game partner Peeta. And, yes, this wouldn’t be much of a story if Katniss were to escape the lottery and not go to the Hunger Games. So the story goes and she is forced to kill or die in the arena of 23 other teenagers. I don’t think I away too much by saying Katniss doesn’t die (there are two more books after all).
The first book deals with her fight for survival in the games. The second ends up being more similar than I expected in that Katniss goes to the games again the following year (it makes sense when you read it). And finally, the last book deals with her role in overthrowing the capitol as the districts’ symbolic leader. Such a story would not be very satisfying if the good and downtrodden didn’t take out the evil and excessive. Of course that is easier said than done and I would bereft of reviewer tact if I were to reveal the details of what actually happens. Let’s just say lots of people die. Lots of kids get blowed up.
I didn’t want to like this series, but I couldn’t help myself. The books are well written and the storyline really draws you in. The premise may not be the typical young lit other books have to offer, but that works to make this series stand above the others. So whether girl or boy, teen or thirty, lawyer or lay, this series is a fun read, nothing heavy, and definitely worth checking out. Though, with the upcoming movie, I’m sure I’ll have to hate it soon enough.