Church of Our Saviour

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COS Reads: Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, is a read that is all the rage among young adults. It’s a book parents will want to be able to discuss with them. Set in the future, following a catastrophic uprising/civil war, it is a mix of suspense and philosophy, romance and adventure. Panem is the shining capital of the country that rose up from the ashes of what once was called North America.

Katniss Everdeen, the unfortunately named heroine, is a 16-year-old who lives in one of thirteen impoverished districts that ring the capital. She supplements her widowed mother and sister’s diets by hunting with a bow and arrow. One day, her sister is chosen to represent the district in the Hunger Games and Katniss volunteers to take her place. The premise of the Hunger Games is simple. As punishment for the uprising, each of the districts must send one boy and one girl as “tributes” to play in the Hunger Games. The twenty-four tributes are imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena containing multiple hazards. The competition lasts several weeks and the participants must fight to the death. The last one standing wins, bringing rewards such as food to the district. The Games look a bit like the Olympics and reality TV but their purpose is to demonstrate the total control of the rulers. Worst of all, the populace is forced to treat these games as a festival, “a time for repentance as well as thanks.”

Pretty dark, eh? It is an absorbing read for a young person—the rector consumed it in one long snowstorm—but presents a deeply troubling picture of our future that ought to be challenged. It demands serious discussion, between adults and young people, of the mythic world as well as our own.

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