THE HUNGER GAMES, written by Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic in 2008, is a compelling cautionary novel, which grew into a trilogy, about a future dystopia. The culture that includes District Twelve is easy to envision growing out of our current culture—further ecological degradation, a deepening chasm between the haves and the have-nots, the evil exercise of power, and reality shows carried to a frightening extreme.
I wish I hadn’t started reading it late at night. The book was so disturbing, I had a hard time putting it down and going to sleep. I think this novel is beyond popular. It qualifies as an important book. You have probably read it yourself or know enough about it that you don’t need my two cents worth—except in using it for comparison.
MATCHED, written by Ally Condie and published by Penguin in 2010, is another novel that grew to be a trilogy as it traveled in the opposite direction on the dystopian path. Evil rules, but not as blatantly. The Society pictures itself as utopia.
The protagonist, Cassia, doesn’t start the series with the hardened edges of a Katniss Everdeen. THE HUNGER GAMES start in the outlying areas where the powerless live. Brutality is unvarnished and out in the open. MATCHED starts in the center where most people seem to accept the basic goodness of the Society.
In the beginning Cassia excitedly waits to find out who her perfect match is—as determined by the Society. All the factors that contribute to a happy marriage are considered. Cancer has been defeated by carefully regulating genetic combinations. What could be wrong with that?
Teams of experts compiled lists of the hundred best poems, the hundred best songs, the hundred best books. Why clutter minds with anything but the best? Why not forget the rest? What could be wrong with that?
The Society has also determined that 80 years is a good life span. It’s long enough to live a full life in good health and short enough to avoid the psychological pain of feeling useless. A person’s 80th birthday celebration is a goodbye party. Who wouldn’t choose to have their loved ones all be given the opportunity to say a perfect goodbye? What could be wrong with that?
Has there been a mistake with Cassia’s match—a mistake even though Cassia knows her match and already loves him? Her confusion and growing disillusionment helps her define, refine, and strengthen her love for the people in her life.
Life gets less simple, less clear and she realizes, “My father has always broken the rules for those he loves, just as my mother has always kept them for the same reason. . . . I can trust in my parents’ love. And it strikes me that that is a big thing to trust, a big thing to have had, no matter what else happens.”
Katniss’ journey, which is so riveting and action-packed, is also about her relationships. Her big job, well, besides staying alive, is to learn to receive love. Rereading these two novels together makes me wonder if the dystopian novels I read in my youth, ANIMAL FARM, LORD OF THE FLIES, 1984, had so much love at their cores.
Guess I won’t know until I reread them or hear from any of you who have read them recently.
Last post, I promised a response to CURSES, FOILED AGAIN, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro, and published by First Second in 2013. I love Jane Yolen’ writing. I love the structure of her chapters and the layers to this book. Cavallaro’s illustrations are fitting and fine.
But I don’t think I’m the right person to evaluate graphic novels. I like more words too much.
THE GRIZZLY’S CHRISTMAS will be going to the printer probably next week, and we are planning a fall launch with a party or two. One of the articles I read about launch parties said to name your food after characters in your book. Well, here’s what I’ve come up with and I’m asking for your help with recipes and more brainstorming.
What do you think of Grizz Fizz and Berry Patch Punch for the names of non-alcoholic drinks? I can think of how to make the punch, but the only idea for the Grizz Fizz so far is to spear a Swedish fish candy on a long pick so it looks like a salmon jumping out of the water.
I think we could also serve Irving’s bear claw pastry and cookies made in one of the bear track designs. Now where can I find a bear track cookie cutter? Or maybe we could pipe the design on a cracker? Any thoughts?
Since books are meant to be shared and I have read and enjoyed MATCHED and CROSSED twice, I was going to offer my copies to whoever wants them first. But I when I read this post with one of my critique groups (see post of 4/11/13, “Writer, Get Thee to a Critiquery), two fellow writers claimed them first. So third come, third served with the copies (but it may take a few weeks).
‘Til next time.