Nov 302011
 
Authors: Matt Miller

Once J.K. Rowling decided to kill Cedric Diggory in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” young adult authors everywhere finally realized that people younger than 18 can handle a little violence.

It’s only natural that a few years down the road Suzanne Collins brought young adults “Hunger Games,” a novel that pits 24 starving children from a dystopian society against each other in a battle to the death.

The book tells the story of Katniss Everdeen a 16-year-old, self-reliant huntress living in one of the 12 colonies of Panem, a post-apocalyptic North America. Every year the capitol of Panem chooses at random one boy and one girl from each colony to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised battle royale whose victor receives fame, wealth and life.

With “Hunger Games,” Collins delves into themes most children’s authors refuse to touch. Using a dystopian backdrop for the novel, everything from consumerism, to gender roles, to reality television, to the morality of taking a life to save your own is explored.

These are all themes to get young readers to start thinking critically about the world around them. Instead of emotionally unstable vampires, we get Orwellian big brother politics and basic human survival tactics.

In many ways “Hunger Games” is the antithesis of “Twilight.”

With wonderful pacing that will keep any reader flipping pages for hours on end, Collins has created a book on par with “Harry Potter” to draw in restless young readers. And through the dynamic characterization of Katniss, there is a central character that anyone can cheer for.

The problem arises, however, when the questions of government and consumerism are left underdeveloped. Instead Collins chooses to focus on an awkward romance between Katniss and the horribly boring character Peeta.

It seems that Collins had enough respect for her teen audience to build a world with complex ideas, but not enough respect to dig into them on more than a surface level.

As the first in a series of three novels, hopefully what was unexplored in “Hunger Games” will be more of a focus in the second two books.

What’s left is a book that feels as if it didn’t reach its fullest potential, a book that left me hungry for a bit more depth and a little less romance.

News Editor Matt Miller can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:00 pm

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