What begins as an elongated and dramatized version of Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery quickly delves deeper into a clever perspective of reality TV, augmented news and politics at it’s most subtle form. The young adult series Hunger Games is the latest to join the pop culture cult where survival takes priority over human ethics. After the massive success of Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Resident Evil and their likes, comes the trilogy of Hunger Games where danger is orchestrated from no savage beasts but the mere human. Narrated in a post-civil war society, an extravagant Panem rules over twelve starving districts, where the story builds on an annual Gladiator-esque competition. Ever year a boy and girl from each district are chosen and pit against each other to fight for their survival. These Hunger Games originate as a yearly reminder for all twelve districts on the consequences they beseech for organizing a rebellion against the Capitol, Panem.
What looks more mature on screen is actually a trilogy written for young adults. Susan Collins has dared to weave characters more human than heroic with the obvious love triangle between the three leading characters, Katnis Everdeen, Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. While the romance does surely motivate young readers, it never takes priority over the more alarming themes of augmented reality, propaganda, capitalism and political affairs weaved into three books. The Hunger Games broadcasted live on screens across the region are meant to entertain some and carve fear on the many. Narrated in first perspective, Katniss Everdeen grows more aware of the weight of the reality show and it’s subsequent significance on her survival. Her journey between the Capitol and the victims reel the discrepancy between what’s propagated and what’s real. News and media are controlled by the Capitol in the non-stop effort to regulate information among the different districts and the Capitol’s citizens.
Susan Collins does not leave the imprint of media on the rising uproar of the state against it’s government even till the last book; how broadcasted content is easily manipulated to hide the truth and regulated to prevent uproar. While both sides struggle to defeat the other, Katniss and her group are played like puppets in a never-ending game for power. An interesting perception of the Panem’s system is how shamelessly it depends upon the twelve districts for the produce. While one district is known for fishing, another prevails in textiles, and so on resources are scattered across the districts only to be distributed and handed to the Capitol while the manufacturing district starves on just a meal per day. And to Katniss’ surprise, the president of the Capitol is not oblivious to the fragile system of the government. When the districts cause an uproar, Panem will starve without it’s daily exorbitant supplies. Collins explains capitalism so easily to young adult readers, similar to the environment set in the sci-fi movie Time.
Hunger Games would be an accessible and easily comprehensible approach towards understanding a hypothetical capitalist government and it’s downfall. Definitely a recommended read for economics and journalism students. I found myself struggling to embrace the protagonist. While the movie played a very successful mature attempt for survival by Katniss, it has left out her thoughts, her narratives, her motives towards each decision. So allow me to enlighten you that besides a flicker of kindness for Rue, Katniss is neither heroic nor a selfless martyr. Her first person narrative is a wise decision on account of Susan Collins, as we find out, Katniss indeed calculates each step before making any move. Despite her iconic representation as the immortal-adapted mockingjay, she has no immediate plans of leading an organized protest against the president and taking over authority. Should Peeta or Gale ask for an easy death, her decision is not drawn by emotions aroused by memories, rather the consequences of their absent role on their mission or the advantage it would play to the Capitol should they get caught. No sobbing, no weeping, if anything, Katniss plays focused on her objectives while the boys gamble their lives to protect hers.
Is her behavior justified under the pressure of a nation-wide rebellion? Should she be wronged to mistrust anyone as an ally besides Peeta, even when they help her? Is it right to calculate saving Peeta Mellark when the odds favor his death? Only the book shall reveal, but accept my disbelief when I realize the author made no mistake in her depiction of Katniss. And this is evident when the half-asleep lady eavesdrops on Gale and Peeta’s conversation about whom she would choose. Her best buddy Gale makes it obvious “Oh, that’s easy. She’ll pick the one she can’t survive without” Ouch. Harsh words from a close friend. Who will she choose? The boy she can never deserve even in a hundred lifetimes (in her mentor Haymitch’s words), or her best friend who can protect and provide for their families? Do they survive? Does Panem intend another Hunger Games for them? Answers lie among the pages of the latest cult trilogy. As for you my dear reader, Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.