Loads of Learned Lumber

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The YA Question, Part 2: Suzanne Collins, _The Hunger Games_

NONE OF MY "Modern Novel" students felt like writing about this, though two of the novels they did want to write about (Maze Runner and Divergent) seemed at least indirectly indebted to it, being built around the idea of young people in some sort of desperate competition.

Is that the appeal, I wonder? Has the high-stakes testing from an early age and the fierce competition to get into various special programs and elite colleges, combined with the socioeconomic fact of the top 1% getting an increasingly larger share of the pie, given a whole generation the feeling that they are locked in some deadly, winner-take-all competition with each other?

Given the ubiquity of "reality" television, there is something potent, too, in the suggestion of a possible future in which we are not only drugged by spectacle, as Debord argued, but will also be required to provide the spectacle.

To tell you the truth, I found myself enjoying this considerably. The film was a little more interesting, as it was not locked into Catniss's first person narration--what's up with that, by the way?  This, The Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, Fifty Shades of Gray, all young female first-person narrators. I guess that's the way it's done nowadays.

Another good thing about the film was how it looked Walker Evans-ish in the scenes of Catniss's district, then went all Baz Luhrmann in the Capitol. Nice to see there is at least a trace of this in the book as well.

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