Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

From left to right: gold fabric and candles for "Katniss: the girl on fire;" foliage for the arena; a mockingjay bird (as close to a prop I could find); Nightlock berries; a pair of tweezers for Octavia; nail file for Venia; birds to sing in the forest; bread (a favourite part of the book for me is when Katniss thanks the people of District 11)


There are many ways to read a book: in a hammock at a leisurely pace; with a furiously scanning eye; with a cup of coffee; with the rattle of the train… For me, however, it is the all attention-consuming fervent all nighter practice that I find myself subscribing to of late. And so this was the case with my most recent read, Collins’ dystopian novel, The Hunger Games. I finished the book in less than 24 hours, devouring the ups and downs in a somewhat appropriately ravenous fashion. I found myself reading at 3am with absolutely no desire to move either physically or mentally until I read the last sentence on the last page – read the very last full stop of the story.

I found Collins’ construction and detail of a world so uncannily similar yet distant of our own completely captivating and at the same time disconcerting. Her emphasis on the tense dichotomy between the controlling and the controlled in particular, for me, illustrated and implied a complex system of motivations which, in a sense, has breathed light onto the way I perceive the complexities of the real world. I appreciate her use of first person, which I found highly effective in illustrating the human psyche when it is put under the most extremes of pressure, and thus posing intriguing questions of morality, virtue and that ever defining trope of choice.

The focus on the construction of image was also a key matter of interest for me - from the emphasis on the way 'tributes' are dressed; to the way people in the Capitol go as far as to hyperbolically dye and tattoo their skin for fashion; how carefully personalities are considered for an audience; even the topic of plastic surgery. I found it interesting how the spectrums of necessity, excessiveness, and immorality were called to question in regards to such contructions of image. I thought that Collins proposed a very thorough and poignant look at aspect of an image-based culture which on a parallel run deep in the veins of ours today.

I was impressed with the depth and variety of the characters; none of whom I loved or hated but rather was drawn to admire, question, enquire about or empathise with: Cinna, I wish you would elaborate more on your bittersweet statements… Oh Peeta, you are much too caring for your own good… how much tesserae would I sign up for on behalf of my siblings? In regards to being classified as a young adults novel, I think the book offers more than mere entertainment value and raises questions relevant to the human condition, accessible to a plethora of readers no matter what their age.

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