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The Hunger Games

Just finished reading Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" series. Consider for a moment that I went through all three of those books in about four days. It involved staying up until about 0400 this morning to finish the second book because I simply couldn't put it down, and I read Mockingjay in one marathon session today. Mostly because I was absolutely desperate to know what happened to Peeta and Katniss, and now that nerve's done being wracked I can let everything else slosh around in my head for a while. The major themes I can immediately pick from the series are the idea that society consumes its young in conflict, and a lot of commentary on the nature of propaganda, image, and performance.

Really, in the vein of performance, the central romantic relationships are even more interesting. To be honest, I was rooting for Peeta the whole time anyway since I liked him a lot more than Gale (what can I say, I'm a sucker for sweet guys). But I found it incredibly interesting that Katniss' relationship with Peeta effectively began as a performance and then slowly became something more. But that process left Katniss herself so confused that many times she couldn't be certain if she really liked/loved Peeta, or if, after depending on her performance of love for survival, she was just continuing that performance.

I think that issue also definitely comes out in the treatment of bodily ownership and image as well. I was struck by how many times in the books Katniss attempts to effectively control her own life in the only way she feels she has left - suicide - and is blocked at every turn, normally by invasive medical procedures. She seems to progressively become more and more disconnected from her own body, and also her own self image because it's one more thing that others fight to control and use to their own ends.

Which I think is a line of plot that can be very easily examined from a feminist perspective of ownership of the female body.

As a side note, I'm still amused by the "zero" state Katniss' stylists were supposed to put her in before dressing/making her up. It's supposed to reflect some sort of natural state, but for Katniss is involves waxing all of her body hair off. (The men get to keep theirs, it should be noted.) Even the natural in the Capital is quite unnatural.

And of course, all the feminist parsing you could do from the story doesn't even touch the commentary on war, on totalitarian government, on the sacrifice of the young to satisfy those in power, on the disparity of wealth.

Oof. For three books, and relatively short ones at that, there's a lot there.

I can only hope to write that well some day.

And no, I totally have not been avoiding my sequence stratigraphy assignment, and I resent the implication.


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