What’s on the bookshelf: ‘The Hunger Games’

The last book I read that everyone “loved,” I found that I didn’t share their enthusiasm — not only with that book but with the entire series. So, with a movie in the works and all the “love” out there for “The Hunger Games,” I was a little hesitant to touch the Suzanne Collins series. However, this is one series that does deserve the hype, the praise and the silver screen.

Humanity at its darkest is never a beautiful thing and Collins’ dystopian society leaves a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth who values humanity. People are allowed to starve to death and surviving means death if caught “poaching.” There is a level of government control and lack of compassion that is beyond disturbing, and even more so when the nature of the games is spelled out in print. Children, from age 12 to 18, are entered into a lottery for the games. One boy, one girl from every district and only one can survive.

How do you balance humanity when your survival means murdering other children? Your life or theirs? How would you react if put into that kind of situation? The games push the extreme. They bring out the worst, but they can also bring out the best.

Collins uses the games to bring out the best in Katniss. While others sink to the lowest rungs of humanity, Katniss rises above it. She takes life, but she also honors it. She does what she needs to survive, but her very survival goes against the will of the Capitol, which oppresses the districts. The games change her, but those changes are so subtle that you don’t even realize how deeply they have affected her until the very end of the book. And once you reach it, you hunger for more of the girl on fire.

Finally, a series worthy of the hype. I just hope that holds true in “Catching Fire,” the second book.