now finished: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A decade or so ago in a galaxy not too far away(L.A.), some friends and I had a book group at Borders (R.I.P.) called "The Books We Should Have Read in High School." One of our selections was Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. One member of our book group triumvirate was skeptical about reading this particular work and he would offer up as a reason "It's about meat." It was very funny, the way he said it. Of course it turns out that The Jungle is about far more than meat; in fact, I found that meat played a decidedly small role when compared to the struggles of Polish and other Eastern European immigrants and all the horrible things endured by factory workers and people who weren't rich (you might say the 99%). "It's about meat" became a kind of code-phrase of ours to use for a pre-reading simplification and/or rejection of a book. You know, like, All Quiet on the Western Front: "It's about war." Or Twilight: "It's about sparkly vampires." If only more people had the good sense to reject that "book," for that or any other reason. You get the idea.
ANYWAY, I don't suppose The Hunger Games could be so simplified, as the title of this blog post would do, but I am here today to tell you that yes, it is about war. The reason I am telling you this is because some friends of mine - who have read it - recently engaged in a discussion about whether The Hunger Games was anti-war. This surprised me because I, who had obtained the vast majority of my Hunger Games knowledge from two years of incessant Entertainment Weekly coverage including an interview with author Suzanne Collins, was decidedly under the impression that it was an anti-war novel. You know, governments plucking teenagers from their homes and families to fight to the death in a breathlessly followed/televised spectacle for no discernible reason, other than to further the power and glory and control of said government? Um, that would be---> war.
Well, I have now read The Hunger Games, and while it is not "amazing" or "soooo totally well written" or even a little bit well-written, it is okay, and it has an interesting premise. Which is about war.
A few quotes from the book:
"What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?" - p.55
"We both know they have to have a victor. Yes, they have to have a victor. Without a victor, the whole thing would blow up in the Gamemakers' faces." - p.344
"It must be hell to mentor two kids and then watch them die. Year after year after year. I realize that if I get out of here, that will become my job." -p.386
War, war, war.