The average age of The Hunger Games readers bumped up ever so slightly as our Third Tuesday book club took it on for it's mid-summer selection. Of course, this title was not without controversy, it's violent premise of a fight to death among a group of selected teenagers was a bit too much for some of our members. A few members opted out of reading the book, but most decided to give it a try. For those that decided to take the plunge, they were, to a person excitedly fighting over the copies of the next book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.
I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins several years ago for a young reader's book club. I was riveted by the dystopian story and completed the trilogy in a matter of days. Reading it for a second time, I found the book even more compelling. Suzanne Collins gets so much right. The action is fast-paced; the world she has created is terrifying, but believable; and she doesn't skip over the psychological effects of the games. Katniss, thinking about her first "real" kill in the games thinks, "Numerous animals have lost their lives at my hands, but only one human. I hear Gale saying, 'How different can it be, really?' Amazingly similar in execution. A bow pulled, an arrow shot. Entirely different in the aftermath." Violence is in no way glorified in the pages of The Hunger Games.
It is this attention to the moral questions which turns the savage premise of The Hunger Games on it's head. As narrator, Katniss transports us from her familiar world of "the Seam," an impoverished Appalachia coal mining district where "starvation" was not an uncommon end, to the capital, Panem, where citizens live an oppressively lavish lifestyle of gluttony and self-adornment. Their obsession with the Hunger Games, a reality show designed to keep the outlying districts in submission is truly revolting.
Katniss, like all well-drawn heroes is flawed, blinded by her need to depend only on herself. Finishing The Hunger Games, the third Tuesday book club was ready to be carried with her into Catching Fire.
How about you? Was this a book you couldn't put down? We'd love your input.