The Hunger Games -- a guest post from America
If you have not read The Hunger Games, do yourself a favor and give it a go (note: I’ve yet to see the movie so I can’t comment on how well it tracks the book). You may not like the fantasy genre, you may think YA (“Young Adult”, ages 13 + up, for those who don’t know the parlance of the book business) fiction is too unsophisticated for your tastes. Or maybe you don’t like to read. Whatever. Read it anyway, because whether you like it or not you’ll find yourself wondering how the hell did these fictional people end up in that level of misery. And that, my dears, is one of the points of the story.
Collins gives some hints of the back story throughout all three books of the trilogy, but she does not necessarily draw a bright line. She shows us the end result, hints at the conflicts that gave rise to Panem, but in the end leaves it to the reader to infer the connection between real life and the fiction.
As well she should have in the tradition of dystopian fiction in both written and visual media. The dramatic tension is in the unveiling of the fictional world and the struggles of the characters to overcome the burdens of dystopian life. The final resolution of the trilogy in Mockingjay is the thing we live for as readers; like the destruction of Parliament in V for Vendetta, we find satisfaction when we see the characters we care about tear the dystopia down. But it’s the realization that a society can more easily fall down a rat hole than it can preserve democratic and social justice principles that drives writers to imagine dystopia, and both fascinates and horrifies readers (or listeners/viewers in non-text media).
We are very much on the road to Panem right now. Leaving aside for the moment the most obvious contemporary parallel to the Games – reality TV and its occasional flirtation with snuff genre (ever watched Deadliest Catch?) – many aspects of our social fabric as showing signs of devolving in something we never intended.
Re-published by permission of the author, who writes under the name of Sagebrush Grouse.
This opinion piece has appeared in Daily Kos, and been reprinted in JTown and Community Spotlight.
In the 24 hours since publication, it has attracted 20+ comments.