“The playful romance we had sustained in the cave has disappeared out in the open, under hot the hot sun, with the threat of Cato looming over us. Haymitch has probably just about had it with me. And as for the audience… I reach up and give him a kiss. ‘Sure, let’s go back to the cave” (The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins)
I have no idea about Suzanne Collins’ intention when she wrote this book, but The Hunger Games seems to have many more layers to it than a simple, fast paced, horribly addicting YA novel. For those of you who don’t know the basic idea, here are the essentials: a tribute of two children (aged 12 to 18) is sent annually to the Capitol state for the Hunger Games. Each of twelve districts must give a boy and a girl and the last one alive wins. The whole gruesome business, meanwhile, is recorded and aired on television, to the supreme delight and entertainment of everyone living in the Capitol.
As a reader of the book, we are put in the privileged position of not only watching the winning girl, but of hearing her every thought and struggle in her own voice. It seems to me that the ultra-rich Capitol-ists would kill to be in our position. In other words: the reader is not in the place of the contestant in these novels, but is actually in the exact same role as those who watch the game on television for the pure enjoyment of it. Just as they watch Katniss on TV, we read about her struggles in a book. Now, as a reader, I’m left wondering whether Suzanne Collins intended to put me in the rather disturbing position of being in league with the audience of the games… or not? And if she did, what did she mean by it?
Insofar as the book goes, the suspenseful plot was paced perfectly, in large part because the main character was aware that she had an audience watching her every move and had to keep them entertained. The ending, however, has me very concerned about whether we’re just going to have a repeat of the Twilight saga. Instead of finishing the novel with Katniss, the main character, plotting revenge against the Capitol, or at least coming to terms with all of the kids she’s killed or watched die, Collins ends with her basically wondering which of two boys she likes best. Although most fans out there have already finished Catching Fire and are looking forward to the next book, I’m not quite caught up. But, I feel like my opinion of Collins hinges on what she does next.
Beverage: If you’d like to revel in the fact that you’re not a participant in the games, why not have a rich hot chocolate? If, however, you’d prefer to tilt your scales to the side of the participants, maybe you’d prefer some water or, better yet, nothing at all.