Easily the best young adult books I’ve read since His Dark Materials, The Hunger Games trilogy brilliantly merges the barbarity of the Roman amphitheatres with modern reality shows.
It is set in the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, which is made up of twelve districts, each of which feed, clothe and supply the Capitol, which is the home of the government. There was once a thirteenth district which rebelled more than seventy years earlier and after the Capitol won that battle they instigated the Hunger Games in order to keep the rest of the districts under control. Each district must send two tributes, a boy and a girl, to compete in the games where they must kill each other to survive.
Katniss Everdeen is the heroine who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister when she is randomly chosen to represent District 12, the least successful district that competes. But Katniss has skills that others don’t, and she also has the love of Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from her district, who will do anything to keep her alive.
This being a story mainly aimed at young adults, at its most general it is a story about growing up. About falling in love and falling out of love, about the changes in yourself and in others that will take place, but mostly about the dangerous outside world.
But there are lessons for us all to learn at any age. About how everything on television and in the media is carefully tailored to elicit the correct response, whether it be outrage or guilt, sadness or joy. Then there is the truth that others will sometimes manipulate us for their own purposes, good or evil, and that we mustn’t make assumptions over which it is.
But maybe there are answers also to why we fall in love. Is it down to romantic aspirations, or do we pick the person whom we cannot survive without, whether it be for financial, physical or emotional reasons?
Most of all though these books are extremely well written; you are dragged into the tale and desperate to know the outcome before you’ve taken a breath. In some ways this is a bad thing, since you are so keen to know the ending it can be harder to enjoy the ride. But it’s far better than a book that you don’t care about.
In a lot of ways this is due to the believability of the characters. You are with them all the way, and depending on who they are, you want them to succeed and fail. They almost become like people you know, or at least used to know, and that for me is a good sign.
These stories can be enjoyed by anyone of any age and in order are published as The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.