I picked this book up not expecting too much - popular Young Adult, likely to be mildly entertaining and all about girl empowerment. (Not that anything's wrong with either of those things.) Instead, I found an excellent dystopian science fiction world that gripped me from beginning to end.
One of Suzanne Collins' major themes that runs
throughout the entire series, the mental and physical costs of violence,
is displayed to great effect through Katniss, who herself has been
damaged by the world she grew up in even before the Hunger Games start.
This view of the costs of absolute rule is gradually widened to an
entire damaged world, knowingly or unknowingly. Whether it is the stark
coal mining town of District 12, the better-valued and provided-for
districts, or the hedonistic overindulging of the Capitol, the world
Collins' creates is maintained by the violence of the Hunger Games.
of the reason this book works so well is its indictment of the symbolic
violence of the Hunger Games (and it's non-too-subtle jabs at reality
TV) through showing the very personal violence it inflicts on those who
actually participate and their loved ones. And the surprising upwellings
of humanity in the midst of slaughter.
Katniss herself stands
out as a character who is never sure of herself or her world, or even
what she stands for. Survival has been her only way of life for so long
she can imagine little else. I can only hope the movie does her justice.