The Hunger Games

Battle Royale, the ultra-violent 2000 Japanese film, is about a busload of high school students who are brought to a deserted island where they must kill each other until one remains standing.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, released in 2008, borrows heavily upon this premise. A post-apocalyptic country, divided into 12 districts, holds a televised annual game where the last person standing is declared the victor.

Twenty-four representatives or ‘tributes’ play the game. Two are chosen from each district, one for each sex. As soon as the candidates are selected, they are whisked off to the city capital called The Capitol, where they are groomed, trained in survival skills, and presented to the live audience and the entire nation.

The whole spectacle reminds me a bit of the Olympics where athletes representing each country parade during the lavish opening ceremonies. Unlike the Olympics, the games played by these 24 chosen ones are literally deadlY.

Once they are brought to the arena, A The-Truman-Show-like dome comes to mind where the organizers can manipulate the weather and the environment, all hell breaks loose. The 24 fight to the death to survive.

The novel, the first in a trilogy, focuses on District 12 who has not won the games for over 30 years. It is narrated in the first person by 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who is the exact opposite of that girl Isabella created by Stephenie Meyer who writes like a high school student. While Collins’ Katniss is all spunky and fiery with a touch of vulnerability (Julia Stiles comes to mind), Meyer’s Bella is just plain pathetic, clumsy, and faint-hearted.

The book is a great read, having been designated Editor’s Choice by The New York Times and The New York Times Notable Book which is a sure sign that the book is worth spending a few hundred pesos on. There is calculated manipulation, a little bit of romance and heartbreak and angst, and a lot of heart-stopping action.

I’m pretty sure this won’t get to be as popular as the Twilight series since it does not have a male protagonist who sparkle like diamonds. But I tell you, this book is miles better and more wonderfully written with a kick-ass ending.

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