The Worst Horror of Hunger Games

I know I am very behind the curve here, but the phenomenon of Hunger Games has completely missed me, both the books and the movies. I learned about them through social osmosis, probably in comments and articles around FtB, but I never paid it much attention and I never knew what it is about, except a vague feeling that it should be good and that there is some girl shooting a bow.

So because I needed a pause from listening to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series over and over again, and I also needed a rest, I bought an audio book of the first in the trilogy and listened to it these last few days, whilst trying to get rid of some damn virus trying to cook me in my skin.

The book is an excellent piece of storytelling, there is no doubt about it, I will not be able to resist and I will buy the rest of the trilogy as well. But had I known in advance what it is about, I probably would not have bought it, definitively not now. It shook me to the core. I was, and I still am, absolutely horrified.

That might seem odd, because I have read my share of books of all genres, from horrors to comedies, but I do not remember being moved this much by a book for quite a long time. It was not the deaths what has got to me. It was not the quite excellently portrayed psychology of an individual caught in a string of apparently lose-lose situations. It was not the story, that was pretty straightforward and to someone well read slightly predictable at times. It was the believability of it all what really got me.

There are simply too many parallels to societies like that one portrayed in the book throughout human history and even today.

Of people living in distinct caste-system that is impossible to escape from.

Of entire populations being worked to death and held on the brink of starvation for the benefit of an elite few.

Of totalitarian regimes where everyone is a subject to the whims of the powers that be.

Of people jeering and laughing at the suffering of those they perceive as lesser, as other, as subservient.

And we still are not in the clear. We might be heading towards societies just like that, again. The book might very well be an accurate prediction of a future mere hundred years from now. And that there was no suspense of disbelief needed makes everything in it much worse than it would be in an ordinary horror with magical or inhuman monsters. People can be the worst monsters, it seems to me.



  1. voyager says

    I haven’t read the books or seen the movies because I have no stomach for dystopian fiction anymore. The current world situation is dystopian enough.
    I forget where I heard it, but the phrase “ debt is the new form of slavery” sticks with me.

  2. rq says

    I had a similar reaction, re: the believability of the situation in general. It was all very very bleak, and a tragic ending would have fit perfectly. Some of the heroic acts later are a bit exaggerated, but hey, it’s a book!
    If you ever watch the movies, be warned: they managed to capture several extremely depressing and impactful moments.

  3. says

    @Marcus, well, the ods for a less shitty outcome are non-zero after all. I hold on the vestiges of my optimism with teeth and nails as strongly as I can.

    @voyager, the similarity of the books contents to a plausible end result of today’s world developments (global warming, post-truth, Trumpofascism) is what got me. And yes, debt as a new form of slavery fits well.

    @rq, i agree that tragic ending would fit it perfectly, but I am glad that at least the first book has an ending that I was able to handle without spiraling into depression. I am fighting another bout with impostor syndrome right now and losing badly.

  4. says

    AFAIK, Collins especially wrote it as an allegory of late stage capitalism, so it should not be surprising. Just combine it with the Handmaid’s Tale and you’ve got conservative Utopia.

  5. jazzlet says

    Charly your colleagues and boss obviously think you do good work, if they are convinced, for all practical intents your acting competant is so close to competance that it makes no difference it’s an act. Might it be a good idea to take a break before going on with the Hunger Games series?

  6. busterggi says

    People have always been the worst monsters, all the humanoid monsters out there are just cutural ways of trying to explain why.

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