“The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins, is an adventure thriller, and readers should be forewarned to clear their schedules and prepare to be captivated by the future. With the movie coming out, Stony Brook campus has been buzzing with excitement and anticipation to see this compelling adventure come to life on the big screen.
Collins’ gripping story line lures you into North America’s future, where the United States does not exist, but instead a country called Panem. Ruled by the dictatorial Capitol, Panem’s 12 distinct districts are assigned to specialize in specific productions such as agriculture or mining, which thereby dictates the economic status of each district. Collins throws the reader into the action from the outset of the novel. Every year, the Capitol conducts the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death game in an arena to remind the districts who is in charge and to keep them in line. The players in this game are chosen at the Reaping, which selects one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 to represent their district and compete for their lives in this ultimately fatal competition. Through Collins’ use of her female protagonist, Katniss, she illustrates the tyrannical control of the Capitol through the game, and how grim and existence this futuristic country really is.
While “The Hunger Games” is an exciting fictional adventure, one cannot help but think that Collins is commenting on the future of our technology-driven American society. Although the novel’s setting is futuristic, surprisingly, it is not the technology-dependent world with robots as has been predicted. Instead, the citizens must draw on the Neolithic habits such as hunting and gathering for food, trading and using herbs, and plants for medicine. Typical 21st century experiences like riding a train, driving a car, or ingesting antibiotics to cure illness, is rarely, if ever, experienced in Katniss’ world. Her first train ride occurs on route to the games. This reveals how the Capitol has deprived and secluded the districts from such luxuries. The country of Panem can even be likened to the third world dictatorships of today where citizens are deprived the use of technological advancements. As the reader, you are left to question what Collins’ intentions were in creating this society. Is Panem meant to be a political satire predicting America’s fate? Is this why this futuristic society is so intriguing to today’s audience? Do we subconsciously fear the outcome of our obsession with technology?
Regardless of Collins’ intentions, you will find yourself flipping the pages obsessively to find out the next plot twist she will throw at you. Her fast-paced plot never bores. “The Hunger Games” is addictive and compelling through the illustration of a futuristic society that confronts contemporary issues including government interference, freedom, the media and love. Even more appealing is Collins’ use of a strong, female protagonist to emphasize that despite a rigid and cruel authority, individual choice is still possible, providing the readers with insight. Although this book was written for young adults, people of all ages are drawn into this series by Collins’ complexity and unpredictability, giving us a thrill as we read.