If the likes of young-adult (YA) fiction authors Suzanne Collins, James Dashner and Veronica Roth are to be believed, we are heading for a distinctively dystopic future.
Their post-apocalyptic visions in the acclaimed series ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘Divergent’ reveal new societies that have risen from the ashes of the old, seemingly stronger than their predecessors with a greater focus on ‘the needs of the people’.
Naturally, being YA fiction, the protagonists are teenagers, and the various plots focus on their attempts to discover what is really driving the new governments and leaders. Is there an ulterior motive behind the creation of Districts and Factions? And just what is the purpose of The Glade?
With the big screen arrival of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games in 2012, shortly after the novels’ publications, 2008-2010, the flood gates were opened for a new generation of teen films that were more action than angst.
While I’ve yet to see the fourth and final film in the series, The Hunger Games and its young cast have consistently delivered excellent films; I’ve scored each film either four or five stars.
Staying very close to the source material, which I read after seeing the first film, the society in which the series takes place – the fictional country of Panem separated into the Capitol and 12 Districts, each with their own specialism – is fascinating.
A focal point within the culture is the annual Hunger Games, a brutal fight to the death that representatives (Tributes) from each District take part in, supposedly serving as a reminder of what each District had to sacrifice in order to obtain this somewhat fragile peace.
Panem is totally immersive; through Katniss’ interactions with the other Tributes and people of Panem you begin to understand what each District is like and the friction between them. The Capitol is so extravagant and in such contrast to Katniss’ own District, the mining community of District 12, that you are fully on her side, empathising with her frustrations at the injustices in society.
While the idea of hosting a Hunger Games-style event may be far-fetched (for now, at least), the societal change does feel scarily plausible. With the Capitol’s omnipresent, quasi-paternal approach, you’re reminded of ‘1984’ and the TV show ‘Big Brother’.
Perhaps one day, in the not so distant future, it’ll come true.
Read Part 2 here
Read Part 3 here