Children, Gladiators ... Moral Conflict

What would you do if you were an adolescent who found yourself confined in an arena with eleven other teens surrounding a pile of weapons and told that only one of you could walk out alive...?

I'll admit it. I saw the movie first. I know! I know! Shame on me. No worries, though, as I still think the book is much better. As with most books we were tuned into the leading lady's thoughts and reactions, and Katniss is a fascinating character to tap into on that level. She doesn't exactly fall into any of the set "Heroine" categories. Tough and embittered, there is still enough whimsy in her to twirl about in a pretty dress on camera. She possesses a rigid moral compass, but she is self-sacrificing only to a point. Katniss is imperfect, but not in the physical or social ways in which we have come to expect. In a rare stroke of brutal and shamefaced honesty Collins has written a genuine human being with all of the dark nooks and shades of gray that truly make up the building blocks of our souls. It is the most riveting aspect of the story.

The rest of the cast is very much made up of standards and this is glaringly obvious when they are set next to Katniss. It is not a failing, however. The story needs us to melt for the sweet little Rue and dither over the uncertainty of Peeta's behavior. President Snow's the big baddie and angelic Prim is the little sister worth fighting for. They're a great supporting cast that really forces Katniss to stand alone amidst them all. By circumstance and the other characters' choices to either accept or object to the Capital's dictates she is presented with all of the options available to her, and an understanding of the varying fates they all would lead to.

Fast-paced and action-packed, "The Hunger Games" is definitely one of the most powerful stories out there. With themes that draw from classics such as "The Lottery" and "1984," this leads us to question what humanity is capable of and how strong the spirit needs to be to withstand the corruption that Panem fell against. I can't wait to see what chaos Katniss stirs up in the other two books! Bravo!