So many strong reviews already--what on earth could I say?
Let me meditate some.
*calendar pages flipping*
So...general review first: It's a compelling, well-defined story.
In some ways a little too well-defined. Phoebe
does an excellent job (as does Adam L) referencing the antecedents to Collins' novel--I've read and seen so many stories about people hunting people that my initial take on Collins was a somewhat exasperated sigh. This
is what's getting all the hype? (I admit to feeling this disappointment with things Potter--Harry always seemed so cobbled together from found parts.) And Hunger Games
never broke stride from the moves and paces I expected, alas.
Yet--as Phoebe and Ceridwen
note--the key here is that central voice. There is a lovely precision to the embodiment of Katniss Everdeen. This poor kid grapples with (sure) the day-to-day mechanics of staying alive and (okay, yeah) trying to dispatch other strivers. But I was fascinated by her careful attention to the mysteries of motive, and not just others'--her own, too. Katniss seems a dazzling protagonist because a relentless competence is coupled with a nuanced confusion. When MILD SPOILER Peeta declares his love during the televised pre-Game show, K is thrown for a loop, yet manages to pick up the theatrical cue, blushes, keeps up the performance. Throughout--even as she catches game or storyboards her own plans for the Game--Katniss is always teasing through the complexities of identity and performance. Inside the hunting-humans plot is an homage to great Austen heroines, Emma with a bow, coming to learn a lot about herself and people, even as she occasionally enters into mortal combat with them.
And the symbolics of the hunted-human reality-game-show plotline still resonate neatly, as the aforementioned reviews (and this very fine assessment by Elizabeth Bird
) argue, are rather hard to repress. Whether you see an allegory of adolescent entry into society (and, c'mon, high school IS a life-and-death struggle watched by a vicious authoritarian system) or a not-so-subtle critique of social inequalities... Hunger Games
resonates beyond the pleasures of its page-turning fight to the death.
But where I want to come in is with more attention to those pleasures. The photo above is from a wonderful, awful Australian exploitation flick originally called Turkey Shoot
(and released as Escape 2000
on video here). More coming soon...