Monday, January 24, 2011

THE HUNGER GAMES

We've been traveling so I downloaded several samples of books onto my Kindle. I zipped through the beginning excerpt from this book by Suzanne Collins and immediately bought it.

It's YA - though not for preteens because it's so brutal - but anyone who likes sci fi, fantasy, and/or postapocalyptic fiction will enjoy it. It grabs you and keeps moving.

The heroine lives in a disintegrated United States where there are 12 districts - the 13th once rebelled and was absorbed into the rest - and an authoritarian government. Much like ancient Rome used the gladiators to keep the population entertained and quiescent, this government uses the Hunger Games. Twenty-four young people are chosen for the games; at the end only one will live. Our heroine takes the place of her beloved young sister whose name was pulled.

The contestants are wined, dined, styled, dressed, and interviewed before being pitted against each other in an arena (which can be plains, forest, islands, volcanic rock formations, etc.). Cameras follow their every move, but the footage is edited each day to make sure none of the actions foment unrest.

The populace may be poor and starving but viewers of the Games are thrilled, titillated, fascinated and absorbed. Huge TV sets blare each day's hunt to the crowds. Gamblers bet huge sums on the winner. Sponsors offer gifts to favorites. Sound familiar?

Collins doesn't preach. She focuses on the heroine and the boy from her district who was chosen. But the slivers of truth in this story mean readers will never again view American Idol or Survivor or any other reality show in the same way.

I could hardly wait to finish the book. The concept is fascinating, the plot is interesting and the pace is perfect. And that makes it a great read.

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