Monday, March 7, 2011

When the Future Meets the Present

How timely that I've found myself reading my way through Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games series as dictatorships and autocratic governments are under revolt overseas. Panem, the setting for the three novels (including the second and third, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay), is a futuristic American, twelve--or thirteen--districts ruled by The Capitol, which requires each district to send "tributes" to participate in a battle royal each year.

As the second book ends and the third begins, a revolution is underway, but District 13, the new alternate government seems in many ways as controlling as the old one they seek to supplant. After watching Mubarek's government toppled, and seeing Qaddafi (choose your own spelling) under attack, I realize how far removed we are from our revolution, so much so that we have a hard time identifying with rebels so intent on change they are willing to risk their lives and homes.

The trilogy's protagonist, seventeen-year-old Catniss Everdeen seems an unlikely figure for the rebellion, but in so many of the recent protests and attempts, the faces on our television screens are young. The third novel in the series gives an interesting look at how media can manipulate images for good or for evil, alternately rewarding and punishing independent thinkers. Not feeling completely comfortable myself in futuristic tales, I was relieved when a glamorized, made-for-TV version of the unlikely hero was scrapped for a natural girl. Now as I wend my way through the last book in a series (my second series in a month--and the only one besides Harry Potter in years), I'm wondering how many other parallels I'll see between her world and mine--or what my world is becoming.

1 comment:

Laurie Kolp said...

Thanks for the summary. My two oldest love that series. (I'm waiting in line).