Monday, April 30, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins Review

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

"Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience."
-Letter from Aldous Huxley to George Orwell a few months after the release of 1984
The full letter may be read here:

This was by all means a stain on the dystopian genre. The very essence of dystopias to explain what could possibly and realistically happen to us. To say The Hunger Games could happen denies basic human psychology. (I explained mostly in my last review, which is found here: )
The only meaning of this book is to entertain people. Huxley warned us the things we love would eventually lead us to our downfall. Brave New World is commonly labelled "boring" and a "painful read", yet The Hunger Games is "exciting" and a book "that can't be put down". THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ENJOYING A BOOK, Huxley understands that. He himself enjoyed reading. However, he also knew that politics could not be ignored. Eighty years ago, he saw into the future. People would be able to have more time to enjoy things, which is good, but if they weren't careful they would destroy us. The Hunger Games trilogy is a perfect example of this. If THG didn't go around saying it had a great political message or that it was a dystopia, all would be fine and dandy. When THG says it is a dystopia and has a great political message, that's when we have a problem.
I tried to find a political message, and I got this:
-Be glad you don't live under a Big Brother government.
Yes, that was all I got. However, there was nothing about preventing the Big Brother government, just be glad you aren't in one. That was the closest thing I got to a political message. I guess you could add "be glad you aren't going hungry", but many kids in good ol' US of A are hungry.
To Miss Collins, people being thrown into an arena and being forced to kill each other is a big political problem we face today. That happens a lot, doesn't it?
I'll explain a little further: I am a lesbian. I face constant fear of being discovered for who I am committing suicide yet again.
I have friends who are not lucky like me to be white, and thus a crime can be committed against them and more than often it can be gotten away with. Yes, Zimmerman was prosecuted, but not every non-white person is lucky enough to get their murder charged. Many people of different races will never be lucky enough to have their murderer's prosecuted.
I have a few trans* friends, and I know of the struggles they face. Large amounts of violence has been had against trans* women (and men, but mainly women) as of late, for example against Paige Clay. I fear for the trans* women (and men) who are even unluckier than me, even when my identity is constantly stigmatized.
I fear for the young trans* men who are forced to swallow paint thinner because they do not have the access to safe, legal abortion like I do.
I fear for the people who aren't in my country who face many struggles. I know the privilege I have, and I do my best to educate myself on it.
The things I and other stigmatized people face today are far more relevant than people being forced to kill each other for entertainment. Miss Collins does not explain anything about gays, trans* people, how racism or classism works, ableism, abortion, or even religion works in her world. Though there are dark skinned characters, does that mean racism has been eradicated? How are gays treated? Trans* people? What about people with disabilities? Are the struggles of these stigmatized people worse? What about gender equality and gender roles?
Calling something you find "cool" or a "fast read" that lacks political messages as having one, that is what Huxley feared. We wouldn't be denied our political knowledge, but they would be drowned out by other things. We would have knowledge, but we wouldn't care about it. The struggles of people would be ignored for a forced love triangle, cheap action, and very important issues would be ignored to discuss bird costumes. No one would either care or notice, maybe both. Huxley feared what we loved would kill us, and his fear has come true. He knew people being thrown into an arena is not something that could convey a true political message at the time, and it rings true today. What Huxley did not realize that when he stated that our pleasures would doom us was not just into our daily lives, but into books that claim that they somehow are reflecting our lives and struggles. Brave New World will be placed next to The Hunger Games as a great book of political messages. One will have a message that forever rings true, while another, if not actively analyzed, will contribute to keeping the message unheard and what it warned against will continue standing strong.
This is why I won't even bother with two stars.

View all my reviews

1 comment:

  1. The Hunger Games is no 1984 or Brave New World (it is YA, after all), so it's message may not be quite as deep as you want it to be, but you completely missed what it's primary critique is. It is a satire of reality TV, and speculative of how far people could go in their desire to see real life as entertainment.