by Martha Rose Woodward
The Hunger Games is a novel written by Suzanne Collins in the young adult genre. It is also a movie which debuted in the USA at the beginning of March. It was originally published in hardcover on September 14, 2008, by Scholastic. After the popularity of the first book, two more books followed in the trilogy: “Catching Fire”, published on September 1, 2009 and “Mocking Jay”, published on August 24, 2010. The book has been released as a paperback and also an audiobook and e-book. .
The main character is sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem located where the countries of North America once existed. The book hints that there has been an atomic war which was won by a group of wealthy leaders who live in the Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, that holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Capitol keeps control over people who are organized into 12 districts of the country by controlling food distribution. Also, once a year, just to show that they have total control, the Capitol hosts an annual event in which they require that each district send one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18, called “tributes” to the Hunger Games. The tributes must fight each other to the death in an arena, much like a golf course, that has been created by the engineers of the Capitol. Tributes are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.
The tribute who wins the Hunger Games gets a new house and will always be a respected member of society. He/she also wins ample supplies of food for his/her district. We are told that the games in which Katniss participates are the 74th, so we know the setting is 74 years into our future.
Collins says that she became inspired to write The Hunger Games while channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. She says she marveled at how we sit at home and find fashion, movies, death, war, or other kinds of television programs to be lumped together as our entertainment. She used the Greek myth of Theseus as basis for the story, describing Katniss as a futuristic Theseus, and that Roman gladiatorial games formed the framework for the battles between the tributes. The sense of loss that Collins developed through her father’s service in the Vietnam War also affected the story, whose heroine lost her father at age eleven, five years before the story begins.
Other characters are Katniss’s younger sister, Primrose, and Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son whom Katniss knows from school, and who once gave her left over bread when her family was starving. They are helped by the drunken mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, victor of the 50th Hunger Games, who instructs them to watch and learn the talents they will need in order to win the game. A love triangle develops between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, a friend she left back home.
Fans have eagerly awaited the movie which airs March 23 in Knoxville. The screen play was written by Collins who also directed the movie. It is expected to be as big as the Twilight series.