What’s all the Hype?

Posted: April 3, 2012 in kind of like news

Today, when I checked my email, there was an ad from the Microsoft Store that said, “Get The Hunger Games limited-edition PC today.” I wondered if the author of “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins, got the same ad in her inbox.  If so, was she amazed that her writing could be so popular as to have Bill Gates take notice and recognize a good business venture in creating this signature computer?

Bill Gates isn’t the only one to take notice of this latest best selling Young Adult (YA) book.  “The Hunger Games” is the first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy.  Since its initial release in 2009, parents, teens and college students have been reading and talking about the believability of Katness Everdeen (apparently there was no better name at the moment), the main character and Collins post apocalyptic world.  Not unlike Cormac McCarthy’s, “The Road,” we aren’t sure how the end of the world comes about — and really, it doesn’t matter. This new world has been organized into 12 districts that surround the Capitol city, Panem.  Each year, the districts hold a lottery to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to perform in the Hunger Games, kill or be killed.  Like all good game shows, it is televised for all the districts to enjoy.  Reminiscent of reality T.V. at its best.  Gladiator’s anyone?

The book begins with the introduction of Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister Primrose, in representing District 12 in the Hunger Games.  Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son whom Katniss knows from school.  Thus begins their fight for survival.  Of course it isn’t a real YA novel without a love triangle.  Katniss has to decide between the baker’s son and her best friend Gale, who is waiting back in District 12 with the promise that he would watch over her family.  Fortunately, this isn’t made into something syrupy and annoying. Well, maybe a little but not as much as some previous YA hits that shall remain nameless.  The romance is used to spur on the plot in a believable way, while building tension for the reader as well as increasing the ratings of the games.   The rest of “The Hunger Games,” is a violent, fast-paced novel that holds constant suspense for the reader as well as for the rich, bored people of the capitol.  See, something for the guys too.

The popularity of this book is being compared to Stephenie Meyer’s, “Twilight Series,” and the Harry Potter books, written by J.K. Rowling.  But there are some distinct differences from that of the previously named bestselling books.  And those differences are having an impact on the YA generation of today.

The Hunger Games hits a cord with the youth of today with the image of dichotomy between the wealthy and the working middle class.  The underlying theme of survival is not unlike what people are feeling today as “big brother” watches with seemingly detached amusement.  What makes this book stand out for Tristan Flattery, a 19 year-old student at Paradise Valley Community College and the Puma Press photo editor, is the believable world that was created and the flawed but likeable Katniss.  “She seems so real.  I can put myself in her place,” Flattery says.  Even though we don’t know what a post apocalyptic world looks like, we can see and feel the setting that Collins has created.  Why?  Flattery says its because it closely resembles our own.

With society’s love for video games, violence and reality T.V. it isn’t so far fetched.  The youth today want to find their place in this world and they’re willing to fight for what is important, just like our heroine.  They don’t need anymore Hollywood versions of young love and they don’t believe in the magic of Hogwarts.  They’ve seen too much of the real world.

In contrast, there are some scenes that make you go, “hmmm.”  Although help does fall from the sky for certain “sponsored” contestants of the Games, and the government seems to lack a certain authority, the reader tends to overlook these things.  It’s like the reality show we can’t stop watching.  We are both disgusted and amused by what society has become and in doing so we accept anything.

Maybe the Young Adult generation will see that it’s OK to accept what might be viewed as magic.  After all the bad stuff we’ve seen in our society, we know that miracles still happen.  People do fight and survive.  They love their families and maintain friendships.  They think for themselves and make choices — that’s life.  Maybe there’s hope for all of us. And with “The Hunger Games” movie being released to theatres on March 23rd, we’ll see if Katniss and the world of Panem will make us care enough to see what happens next.

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