Author Suzanne Collins mentions that the idea for THE HUNGER GAMES came from channel surfing between reality TV games and the Iraq war. While the reality game show element is really obvious, it seems to me that this whole series is a metaphor for the wars of the recent decade, with each volume of the trilogy serving as a metaphor of those hellish places. No wonder Katniss behaves so badly and in such extreme and violent ways. No wonder this book is so dark. No-one is ever quite the same again. And that is where the power of this work lies, in its linking of dystopian fantasy with unpleasant realities of the present day.
This is a strong work that doesn’t sag and will keep you glued to the page. What makes it so outstanding is the way the trilogy ends. Ms. Collins provides a satisfying ending that ties up a lot of loose threads and make the reader feel that there was no other way this story could have ended. It is not a happy-ever-after ending, which would not have been appropriate for such a dark story. But it is the kind of ending that throws everything into relief and makes you realize what the emotional heart of the story is.
For those of you who haven’t yet read or viewed HUNGER GAMES, you might want to stop reading at this point, as what I have to say contains spoilers.
What the ending meant for me was that the emotional heart of this story is Katniss’ relationship with her sister. Which is surprising, as this is a book for teens. Authors who write for this audience are almost obliged to have the romance-between-good-looking members-of-the-opposite-sex-which-involves-love-triangle, and I must say I found this aspect of the trilogy the least interesting. Mainly because Katniss (not surprisingly) is so unsure of where she is, being spoiled for choice. But the suspense just stretches out and out and out, and I felt the work would have been stronger without so much emphasis on the romance element.
However, the ending suggests that we are being encouraged to look at the wrong relationship. Because the person whom Katniss really and truly loves is her sister. And when Prim dies, we feel Katniss’ terrible pain. Especially as she had to see it happen. I thought the scene with Prim’s cat was just wrenching, and it is a mark of the quality of this work that it is hard for me to get those scenes out of my head. Five stars.