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Susan Collins's distopian future is easily the best young adult storytelling since Harry Potter finished.,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Hunger Games (Gebundene Ausgabe)
That rare book that you can't tear through fast enough even as you dread it being finished, Susan Collins's distopian future is easily the best young adult storytelling since Harry Potter finished. What the two share is a unique ability to celebrate the best of humanity without neglecting the worst. Set in a North America transformed by global warming and ravaged by nuclear war, the remaining populations are concentrated atop the Rockies in the West and the Appalachian range in the East. The East, emerging much worse for the wear, was divided into thirteen districts and forced to pay tribute to the Capitol in the West. Collins introduces us to the world through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, an undersized and undernourished sixteen-year-old protagonist and narrator that embodies Jean Craighead George's practical and self-sufficient ideal. The early chapters feel ripped from 'My Side of the Mountain', if the Catskills had been occupied by a brutal foreign power. Before her father died, he taught her the basics of hunting. Her mother, a skilled apothecary before she sank into a debilitating depression, educated Katniss on the plants all around them. These skills, combined with ample ingenuity, allow her to keep her mother and little sister fed.
The one thing she cannot control is the Hunger Games. Over seven decades prior, the Eastern districts mounted a failed rebellion that was brutally crushed by the Capitol in the West. The thirteenth district was completely obliterated and the Hunger Games -- an annual gladiatorial fight to the death broadcast live as reality TV -- were imposed on the surviving twelve districts as punishment. Every year, a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are drafted through a lottery to compete. When Katniss's little sister is drafted, Katniss volunteers to take her place.
What transpires from there is full of human feeling and astute observation of the human condition. Though Collins restricts herself to a middle school vocabulary for her target audience, the result feels authentic given Katniss's age and background. Her portrayal of death is matter-of-fact, unflinching, and heartbreakingly personal. Her portrayal of life in the face of death is achingly beautiful. Few will ever find ourselves as literally and figuratively boxed in as these children, and yet in the face of such severely limited options they showcase the full spectrum of human expression. The Hunger Games are designed to force the most vulnerable to carry out inhuman acts in order to survive. The most rebellious thing Katniss can do, then, is to express love and fellowship and gratitude in spite of what she must do.
The result is a vision of the future on the opposite pole from Huxley's 'A Brave New World', a book that grapples with the unanswerable questions of our uncompromising world in a manner that all ages can process. Upon finishing this book, I felt that little pang of grief that only the best stories can stir. The good news for me is that two follow-ups are planned.