Sunday, April 1, 2012
Forever and Ever In Your Favor
I recently discovered, much to my surprise, that my son had bought and read the entire Hunger Games trilogy, and, equally surprising, my husband had read them too. So what choice did I have? I mean, who is the unpub YA novelist in this family? Hint: not them. (That's right, my 16-year-old daughter, the only one in the family who actually belongs in the YA demographic, isn't in on this.) I took the first book, read the first chapter, put it aside. Then one morning, I found I had a few minutes to spare before having to get ready for work, so I lay down on my bed and picked up the book again. Two hours later, I was calling in to work and telling them I got caught up with something at home and would be in soon. Over the next few weeks, I finished all three books in my own ADD way (actually read the first one straight through; scanned the second and third for plot and character developments), and last night I saw the movie. So. It's a version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Mankind has devolved into two distinct races, one beautiful, empty-headed and useless, the other unlovely, dwelling in darkness, carrying on the world's work. The twist is that here, the Eloi/Capitol-Dwellers are the ones with the blood lust. Rather than the Morlocks/District-Dwellers emerging from their underground lairs to eat the Eloi, the Capitolians take time out from the perpetual party of which their lives consist, to "eat" - derive pleasure from the death and dismemberment of - the Tributes from the outlying Districts. This tweak makes it easier to clearly demarcate the two races into Good and Evil, Hardworking and Decadent, Technologically Superior and Morally Superior. Simplistic? Sure. But not stupid. Panem is not the world we inhabit, but it can sometimes seem disturbingly close to it. Suzanne Collins has something to say, and we should be listening.