Saturday, October 08, 2011

Books #34 and #35

I ripped through this Young Adult novel in a flash--some of the kids at school had read it and buzzed all around me about the series. I can see why. It's ultra-violent, it's post-apocalyptic, it's cruel, and a little bit sexy.

In the future North America has become Panem, a confederation of 13 districts with a central capital city. Every year the capital demands two randomly chosen tributes from each district, a boy and a girl. The future of Reality TV is watching these 24 kids kill each other in a fight to survive and win food, prizes, and glory for their district. You're thinking--but you said there were 13 districts? Why only 24 kids? Because the 13th district was destroyed by the capital for daring to rebel.

I think the cleverest thing Suzanne Collins has done is show kids what the future holds for American if Social Darwinism and laissez-faire capitalism remain fashionable goals for the political right and many in the center. The protagonist in The Hunger Games loses her father in a mining accident and she and their family nearly starve to death until she begins poaching small game and roots and berries--a capital offense if she's caught. There's no public services, no health care, no welfare; everyone must scratch out a meager existence except for some wealthy merchants and powerful politicians who are comfortable. They are protected by a militarized police force.

Part "The Lottery," part The Running Man, part Oryx and Crake--this is good dystopia for young teens. Our science teachers have the entire middle school reading volume 1 this trimester. I hope to make academic connections to content throughout the year.

Picked this up for a couple bucks at The Strand in NY. I love, love, love it. Never read many comics as a kid, but started in the past decade to explore. Some seriously beautiful shit in here, some dreadfully sad, some poignant, some hilarious and puzzling. Check it out.

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