“Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun…”
Young Adult novels have always been labelled as light reads, to be picked up for the sole purpose of leisure. But if there’s any book which has redefined YA tropes, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games has to be it. As the American author turns 58 today, her books continue to be hailed as timeless. Collins released the first book of the series in 2008. Catching Fire and Mockingjay followed it subsequently in 2009 and 2010, respectively. This year in May, she also released an intriguing prequel to the series titled ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’.
The Hunger Games series is set in the dystopian nation of Panem. It follows the first-person account of a teen’s survival against the Capitol and its abhorrent techniques to keep the citizens in check. Initially pictured as a scared girl driven by emotions, who volunteered for her sister in the Games, Katniss’ growth is unforgettable. She transforms into the warrior who fights for what’s right; but not without her flaws.
Collins’ father was an Air Force officer and taught history at the college level. “I believe he felt a great responsibility and urgency about educating his children about war. If you went to a battlefield with him you didn’t just stand there. You would hear what led up to the war and this particular battle, what transpired there, and what the fallout was. It wasn’t like, there’s a field. It would be, here’s a story,” she says. Similarly, she too feels that kids need to learn about violence and war in a more realistic manner. With the amount of media available today, they should be able to separate wars that are just and necessary, from the opposite. Greek mythology, especially the myth of Theseus, also inspired Collins while writing the Hunger Games books.
With breathtaking action and cliffhangers, a smoking hot love triangle and some inconspicuous realism, Collins’ Hunger Games is undoubtedly a YA revolution. Despite being a fictional dystopia inspired by lore, The Hunger Games is an interesting depiction of the real world. A world in which the higher powers leave no opportunity of manipulating and exploiting the powerless. A world which witnesses remorseless violence and death every day. But also a world in which people like Katniss exist, who, despite being morally ambiguous, play their part in making the world a better place.
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Fans are still talking about the recently released Hunger Games prequel which traces the origin story of the notorious villain Snow. Set mostly in the Capitol, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes place the odds against Snow’s favour in the tenth annual Hunger Games. He prepares to win back his lost glory by mentoring a District 12 tribute and hoping for her victory. With such an intriguing plot, the book has been receiving mixed feedback. This may be because it has caught readers in a dilemma as to whether they should sympathise with Snow or despise him even more.
The Hunger Games trilogy has also been adapted into four blockbuster movies with a star cast which further beautified the books even more. Lawrence’s fiery resilience, Hemsworth’s mysterious eyes and Hutcherson’s dandelion demeanour captivated the viewers and kept them hooked. Thus, the movies too have had their share of glamour and gore and are as timeless as the books. All in all, it suffices to say that The Hunger Games is a wholesome masterpiece and a must-read (or even must-watch) for everyone.
Happy Birthday, Suzanne Collins! May the odds be ever in your favour! Press the three middle fingers of your left hand to your lips and hold them out to Ms Collins!