More than one person has recommended The Hunger Games trilogy recently, and one friend passed on her copies of all three books last week. I’d planned to leave them to Rob to read – they’re more up his alley – but I needed something to take on my trip this week to Boston to visit my sister, so I grabbed the first book in the series.
The story takes place sometime in the far future, in what used to be North America. The plot is simple, if macabre: The government exerts its power over the people by forcing each of the twelve districts in the nation to send two “tributes” – one boy and one girl, both teenagers – to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The Games are a sort of Olympics-meets-reality-TV fight to the death, in which the tributes are expected to kill one another in a huge man-made arena in the Capitol. It’s as gruesome and morbid as it sounds.
I’m kind of turned off by stories set in a dystopian future. It seems to me that there’s plenty of pain and sorrow in the world right now; need we spend our creative energy imagining how we could make things worse? But I do recognize that one of the tasks of creativity is to present an image of hope in despair, to remind us that the powers that be do not always hold the ultimate power. This book attempts to do that, and it is decently well written, which counts for something.
I did enjoy it, in that easy-to-read, kept-my-attention, didn’t-require-much-thought kind of way. It turned out to be the perfect book to read while traveling with a baby. It was easy enough to follow that I could read a half a page at a time and not lose the flow of the story, and it was engaging enough to keep me coming back for more. I even managed to prop it up on the stroller while nursing Jonathan at the Boston airport.
(Props to the Boston Logan, by the way, for a very baby-friendly flying experience; the TSA folks were incredibly helpful, and throughout the airport, in addition to family restrooms, are small “nurseries,” with changing tables and places to nurse. My only complaint is that it was clear they had not consulted a nursing mother in designing these rooms: one of them wasn’t big enough to accomodate me and the stroller, and the nursing seat was nothing more than a small stool with no back. It was like nursing on a bleacher seat. Would it have been so hard to include an actual chair?)
Anyway, one of the reasons The Hunger Games is so engrossing is that each turn of the plot presents a new and more gruesome obstacle that the protagonist has to overcome. I was hoping for a big twist at the end, something that would shed more light on the whole situation, maybe even reveal why the horrible people are so horrible and the good people so good – but it’s too simple a book for that. It will make a good movie; I’m not at all surprised that there is one forthcoming.
What’s that? You don’t care that much about what I’m reading and would like instead to see pictures of cute babies? Okay, fine:
This is Jonathan and his cousin Eliza, who is two weeks younger and three pounds smaller. They barely acknowledged each other’s presence this week, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to be best buddies…