Have you read The Hunger Games? You should!
One assignment we do in our Middle School LA/Reading class is a book talk. This boils down to an oral literary analysis of a book where the theme of the book drives the assignment. You have to give the theme of the book and support that with a quote from the book, as well as tell about the plot elements that support the theme. You can’t spoil the ending, though, or you have to redo the talk. (We’re such meanies, my co-teacher and I.)
The Hunger Games trilogy is coming up often in these book talks.
I reread it this past Saturday with the question in mind, why is this a good book? Why are my students and my peers enthralled with the story?
1. The idea of the Hunger Games isn’t too far fetched. This story is set in a dystopian future where the annual Hunger Games are televised to the country. There are betting pools on who will win, contestants are sponsored, and the winners become a type of societal hero.
Super Bowl Sunday approaches, and over 100 million people will watch that football game live. The winning team will be come superstars (for now) and much money will be won or lost in Vegas over any number of betting scenarios. Companies have paid millions of dollars to sponsor the event through commercials. Not too different from The Hunger Games, see?
2. We are used to the reality television thing, and this story takes it to another level we hope society never attains. The reality show “Survivor” has run 24 seasons, and all of them have watched at one level or another at my house. “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race” also have good followings, never mind “Jersey Shore.” We have no problem watching the train wrecks of other people’s lives. In a world where life itself is troubled, why not watch the Hunger Games with your neighbors and hold your own child extra tight for the night.
3. We (adult women) like Katniss. She’s a rebel. Well, not really in The Hunger Games. She only wants to survive and if that means she has to poach outside of the regulations, or twist the games into something that isn’t exactly part of the-powers-that-be’s plans, so be it. She will do what it takes to make it home. More than that, the only reason she is even in the games is because of her own personal sacrifice for ones she loves. Deep down inside, we too want to be like that.
4. Young women like Katniss. She’s strong and smart, is amazing with a bow, she gets to live a fairy tale for a bit, and she is loved. She is a far stronger character and role model then say, Bella, from that other popular YA series. Oh, to have been such a individual at 16 years old!
5. Suzanne Collins tricks us into reading on. She really does. The end of each chapter is a cliffhanger, and I don’t know about you, but I have to keep reading. There is a reason I tell my peers, make sure your children have food available that they can fix themselves since you’ll be reading and can’t be bothered to fix it for them.
6. The literary experience is satisfying. Insert all the literary critique of a good writer here: Collins does well with her character development, she uses the setting to support the plot and theme, and she connects with readers. A four-star book for sure, seeing as I save five-stars for the likes of Tolkien and Poe.
There’s my two-cents. What’s yours?