I've been immersed in this dark world for the past few days and am reporting back to recommend this compelling, well-told story -- highly, highly recommend!
Set in a dystopian future, in a place that was once the USA but is now a highly repressive authoritarian society, the trilogy takes its name from a yearly ritual designed to keep the twelve different districts of the country ever aware of the power of the central government.
Every year each district must send a boy and a girl to compete in the deadly Arena in a fight to the death where there can be but one winner. It's a kind of mash-up of Roman Circuses, the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, and our present-day reality shows.
And it's the story of Katniss, a young girl chosen to represent her district in the Games. The first book focuses on the fragile alliances she forges during the game -- always knowing that eventually she must kill or be killed.
I raced through the first and second books, caught up in the ever-shifting alliances and dilemmas. One truly surreal moment came as I was reading Catching Fire, in which the government is bombing a district that had seemed rebellious. The radio was on and I suddenly realized that the words on the page were being echoed by NPR -- news from Syria of the bombing of Homs -- and that the dystopia wasn't as far removed from reality as one might wish.
When I came to the third book, I began to slow down -- partially because I didn't want the story to be over but mainly because there was so much to think about and so many possible outcomes. I found myself trying to anticipate what choices the author had made.
When I finally allowed myself to finish reading the last book (standing outside in the cold on Sunday morning while at the other end of her leash Willa dug holes in a flowerbed,) I was completely satisfied with the ending.
I don't want to say anything that would be a spoiler but I will say that I think this is a wonderful book, dealing as it does with heavy matters such as the corrupting influence of power, the strength of propaganda, the nature of love and loyalty, the nature of courage, the joy of small things . . . I could go on and on.
The books are brilliantly visual; the author's world-building skills are amazing. I kept imagining the trilogy as a movie and, indeed, there's one coming soon. But I already doubt that any movie could do full justice to this complicated dance of love and loyalty, right and wrong, life and death.
Yes, it's a dark story, to be sure. But a story that's shot through with light, with beauty, and with moments that answer the question of what it is to be human.
As Pat predicted in the comments on a previous post, I haven't picked up another book to read yet -- my mind is still too full of this world, these characters, these moral dilemmas.