Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins...a review

My plan for this summer's book club is to cover those books that fall into one very specific category... "popular" series books, young adult or adult; a category that I have purposefully eluded due to their immense popularity among the masses. I know, I'm such a snob. However, while I love providing reading suggestions to my students that don't fall into this category, I can now see the benefit of so many people caught up in the moment. My niece, Julia, attended my wedding wearing the Mockingjay medallion on a necklace. While Julia is a reader by nature, so many of my other students this past year were not. And yet, they urged me over and over to read the series. Now THAT is an educator's dream, no matter what the novel. 

Luckily for me, I enjoyed the entire series, because I've never before read something that so many others were reading. People, both adults and kids, stopped by to discuss the book with me at the pool as I floated around reading. I'm definitely not used to that but it was fun talking books with random people. 

As soon as I started reading the series, instant comparisons to George Orwell's 1984 and Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" emerged. 1984 is probably my favorite book when it comes to school related literature and for me, Suzanne Collins did an exceptional job creating a dystopian society in which her main character, Katniss, must survive life in district 12 as the Capital controls all. As in 1984, the government in this future setting controls the families (workers) through fear and forced ignorance. The idea that each district never really knows what happens in the other 11 districts is very similar to Winston Smith and the rest of his comrades' experiences with Big Brother. 

"The Lottery" is a short story that was banned after its first publishing, and Shirley Jackson received quite a bit of hate mail for detailing out a society that used tradition, a "lottery" in this case, to select a member that would represent their community. I won't tell you what happens after they are chosen, but I will say that the "reapings" that occur in the Hunger Games share some similarities in how members of the society are controlled. 

I have a tendency to find Science Fiction interesting, especially scary, negative, dystopian societies that are presented as wonderfully utopian, and even better when they showcase a parallel, if muted, comparison to our own life and society as the society's government dictates. So for me, this was an easy like. Katniss is also likable as a strong female character, who isn't quite aware of her inner strength until moments where it is required. Since this is technically a YA novel, the storyline and Katniss' character, often focus on her uncertainty. Because of this, her internal dialogue is a little repetitive and a bit annoying, but overall I think it is realistic given the age she is representing. After all she is supposed to be figuring life out as she goes. If I were to read back in my journals from when I was 14-16...can't say I was any different. 

The Hunger Games are definitely worth a read.


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