Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games: The Future of Reality TV?
Imagine a post-apocalyptic world where twenty-four kids fight to the death in an arena plagued with fire, mutant animals, and tidal waves, all while filmed on live TV. Only one person survives. Is this some sick twist on “American Idol”? Did “The Real World” go terribly wrong? I’m afraid not. Welcome to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ megahit novel.
In this first installment of her young adult trilogy, we meet Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old native of District 12 in Panem, a futuristic war-torn North America. Every year, a boy and a girl from each of the twelve Districts are randomly chosen to fight to the death during a terrifying, aptly named selection process called The Reaping. Katniss courageously offers to participate in the annual Games in place of her little sister. The Reaping, the Games, and the televised killings are all tactics the Capitol government employs to exercise its tyrannical rule over the Districts.
Before the Games begin, Katniss is shipped off to the Capitol’s lavish city where she is waxed, cleaned, manicured, and made over into someone radiant and beautiful. Someone a crowd could love. In fact, each participant is given a dedicated stylist who performs a complete image overhaul so they enter the Games fresh-faced and ready to go. As she steps into the arena for her first prime-time audience reveal, Katniss' stylist utters the ridiculously encouraging words, “Remember, heads high. Smiles. They’re going to love you!” It’s not enough that Katniss must kill twenty-three innocent children in order to make it out of the arena alive; she’s forced to do so while maintaining her allure because her fate is dependent on the help of her “fans.” In addition to texting or voting online each week to see their front-runner progress to the next round, the audience sends their favorite contestants life-saving gifts like food and medicine (essential after one’s been shot by a bow and arrow or poisoned).
It’s a good thing these lethal games could only exist in a futuristic war-torn world. But strip away the bloodshed, the famine, and the extremist government, and it’s not that difficult to see how the basic premise of The Hunger Games isn’t too far off from today’s reality TV.
Admittedly slow to hop on The Hunger Games bandwagon, I was actually glad I waited because I was able to tear through the entire trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) in a matter of days. The fact that I could read all three installments on my iPhone made it very convenient, and I literally read these books everywhere I went.
Collins’ writing is nothing short of addictive. And with The Hunger Games hitting theaters this March, you can bet that droves of fans, young and old, will be lining up to watch the Games unravel … on the big screen.