In the future, there is no United States. There is the country of Panem. Panem is divided into twelve districts, each one specializing in one skill, such as mining or electronics. The ruler district, the Capitol, is in command of the other twelve districts. One would think that the Capitol would be a fair ruler and all the districts would enjoy the pleasantries of a futuristic world. In The Hunger Games series (containing three books, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay), that’s not at all how it is.
The Capitol is the cruel, tyrannical ruler of all the other districts, so the other districts have to do the grunt work while the Capitol leads a carefree life. To show who is in control, the Capitol organizes the annual Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in an arena that is a hostile environment. Before the games, a process called The Reaping picks two children, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district other than the Capitol, who will compete in the games.
Suzanne Collins, the author, describes how the futuristic country works and how the protagonist, Katniss, a 16-year-old, is thrust into the games. Through the three books, Katniss competes twice. Katniss is picked when she volunteers to go in place of her sister, who was picked in The Reaping originally. Katniss goes the second time in a special kind of Hunger Games called the Quarter Quell. The Quarter Quell is the games consisting of all the winning contestants of the games held during the last 25 years.
There are many other characters, each of whom Katniss has a specific liking or disliking for. The plot is complex with each book in the series bringing in a new perspective of the situation Katniss is faced with. Collins manages to write it in a way that can bend your emotions without bias. She doesn’t glamorize one person and show a dislike for another. Writing this way keeps you guessing until the last second about any situation.
What I liked best was that even though the way she writes is unpredictable, the plot conveys the message in a clear way. Panem is a completely different place than America. The way Panem works is pretty much your regular dictatorship. One district wants all the power and oppresses all the other districts. This isn’t the futuristic society we all hope to have. The situation in Panem is just like the Arab governments that are being overthrown.
The way the author describes it in her books, American society isn’t progressing towards making their country a better place to live in. America is slowly tumbling down the path that will turn us into something resembling Panem. If we don’t stop ourselves from disagreeing with other people without coming up with an alternative solution, none of the problems facing us today will get solved and one by one the problems will just start piling up. America will become a ravaged shadow of its former self.
I’ve read another series by Suzanne Collins called Gregor the Overlander. I have to say that the two series are very different from each other. The civilization in The Hunger Games series is futuristic in some respects, whereas in the Overlander series, the society is far from futuristic. The Overlander series involves prophesies but the Hunger Games series is all-out macho fighting. I’m not saying that the Overlander series does not involve violence, but it’s a different kind of violence.
Suzanne Collins describes the scenarios in the Hunger Games series with extreme detail and some of the images that come into your mind are quite graphic. In the last book of the series, Mockingjay, the author does the best job of this. Each battle in the book is an action-packed flow of pictures in your head. The adrenalin rush is so good you do not want to put the book down.
All in all, the trilogy makes you think about our society as a whole and the plot is riveting. The series is serious and you rarely run across a moment of humor. Then again, if you’re talking about a plot so exciting, who needs humor?