I am eagerly awaiting the third book of the trilogy. While it is written for young adults, I think the issues discussed make the book a good choice for all ages.
The world is a different place and survival is a challenge for most of the citizens. The strong oppress the weak, the rich abuse the poor. The forces of revolt are mounting, even without the hope of success, more merely to make a statement.
I wonder if adults like these books so much because one of the themes seems really current. The children of the territories are suffering for the past "crimes" of their elders in the failed uprisings. Today, we are facing a situation of possibly burdening our future generations with the payment for our "crime" of a failed economy. The headlines and talking heads keep reminding us of our failures, insisting that the fix will place an undue burden upon our children and grandchildren. Insinuations of coming danger appear nightly on the news. The fight between good and evil is ongoing in our own world. Perhaps we identify because we are all afraid of the apocalypse.
The book touches every human emotion and condition; love, fear, arrogance, courage, deceit, innocence, anger, hate, kindness, tenderness, hostility, violence, retribution, injustice, thoughtfulness, etc., you name it. All of these human conditions are handled beautifully by the characters. The children seem mature and capable, accepting their fate with strength and bravery. Each character exhibits some of these traits, in one way or another, in order to survive and the fight for survival is horrific. Their descriptions allow us to see them in our mind's eye, feeling their pain and fear, joy and grief while tearing at our hearts as we root for one or the other, knowing there can only be one winner.
Although the Hunger Games are brutal and the children do heinous things in order to survive, there are moments of tenderness and compassion as well as violence and horror. These children from the territories never seem to lose their humanity completely while those wreaking havoc upon them seem to have no humanity at all, inflicting loathsome punishments. The powerful are only concerned with retaining power. Doesn't that concept sound familiar? Perhaps on some level we identify with the themes of the book.
The uprising and the fight for justice in the territories, is defeated. The unjust win. However, there is always the underlying hope that right will make might, against all odds, ultimately. The books are about the two worlds colliding, utopia and dystopia. Utopia is the post-apocalyptic world of Panem and its elite who live in a society that serves all of their needs. They are content but seem naive and shallow, believing the youth want to die for their entertainment. They are self-serving people who subjugate the inhabitants of the second dystopic nightmare world of the territories, treating their underlings as throwaways, nothing more than playthings. Just as we hope in our own world that things will eventually have a happy ending, we hope for it in this book. We hope the truth will come to light and all will be well, one day.
In some ways both books reminded me of the Holocaust since in the territories and in the Hunger Games, there was a constant fight for survival by people no longer considered worthwhile or human, who existed in a constant state of deprivation and fear. The Nazis lost, so perhaps we are hoping that in the end, so too will the powers that be in Panem who wield it so brutally. Perhaps we believe that it will mean there is hope for us too!