Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Finished: Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games is a fairly popular young adult sci-fi series by Suzanne Collins. It is narrated by a girl named Katniss Everdeen and primarily is focused on her survival in a fairly harsh post-post-apocolyptic world.

Despite the core concept being pretty repellent I found the tale to be fairly intriguing. It is set in an oppressive society that helps to maintain order by a massive televised yearly bloodsport that all districts are forced to take part it. It is primarily about what is important for survival and what people will do in these circumstances.

I started reading the series after seeing the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games. I enjoyed the movie it did a really good job of presenting the concepts in the books, it changes from a first person tale to a third person focused story. We don't really get inside Katniss's head during the movie, but it only leaves her to provide the context that we miss without that first person narrative. Providing the audience with the more specialised information about hazards she is facing and a little bit about what her family and supporters are doing.

I am not going to do a more complete review as I am sure there are plenty of those on the internet already I am more interested in putting down my thoughts about the Hunger Games world.

The world we see in the books is fairly interesting and insular, Katniss is not in a position to get much historical education beyond the clearly very biased state based view. We get a reasonable amount of information about Panem, its capitol and the thirteen districts, but there is no extended history provided. The reader learns that there were 'the Dark Days' where the thirteen districts rebelled unsuccessfully against the Capitol and the thirteenth district was destroyed as an example, but we never learn what happened to the outside world nor about the formation of Panem.

It is clear that at the very least the people of Panem believe themselves to be the only humans left on the planet, there was some kind of catastrophe, implied to be human caused, that wiped out most of the human world, possibly most of the habitable world too. That said, outside human habited lands there are certainly forests and oceans that are heavily populated by animals; some very dangerous animals due to the capitols genetic manipulation.

The first book mentions the population of district twelve as being about eight thousand, whilst it is one of the least important and smaller districts it does imply a fairly small overall population base. The third book also mentions repeatedly the concern that they might basically run out of people in the appropriate breeding age so I wonder what the overall population numbers are for Panem? Something in the order of five hundred thousand at most.

Similarly why have a district mining coal, the Capitol is reliant on the districts for pretty much all of their material goods but are they really still burning coal? Or is the coal to provide heat to the various district residents since the Capitol clearly must have other energy sources as they have hovercraft, forcefields and plenty of power. The Capitol never are shown as having energy problems even when they have civil unrest, unlike the material exports from other districts.

I am curious as to whether any of these are likely to be revealed during the later movies as these are questions I have from reading the books.

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