Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor"

The past couple weeks I've torn through Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" trilogy. Classified as teen fiction, these three books are different from the character-driven pieces I usually read. Set in a dystopian future in which the United States no longer exist, replaced by a central government that controls and exploits twelve surrounding "districts," the books follow teenager Katniss Everdeen as she fights for survival. To remind the districts of its power, the Capitol stages yearly "Hunger Games" -- each district supplies one boy and one girl (ages 12-18) to compete for their lives, all while being televised. At the end of each Games, there is to be only one victor standing.

As sickening as that idea is, Collins said she came up with it while flipping through tv channels years ago. On one channel, "reality" tv. You know, like "Survivor," "The Bachelor," etc. On others were Iraq war footage:

The images blurred in her mind. She wondered whether other viewers could tell them apart.

"We have so much programming coming at us all the time," she says. "Is it too much? Are we becoming desensitized to the entire experience? ... I can't believe a certain amount of that isn't happening."

I highly recommend these books. They are immensely readable and take you away to another place while at the same time giving you pause about today's society. In the districts, as the people scrape for every ounce of food and those in the rich Capitol are ridiculed for being wasteful, even dying their skin shades of green and purple for the sake of fashion, you can't help but think of the disconnect between our own so-called leaders in Washington and the real-life struggles of most citizens.

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