29 May 2012

Theseus on reality television

Young Adult | Fantasy | Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a fast-paced blend of the ancient story of Theseus and the minotaur and dysfunctional reality television.

Katniss and a friend are 'reaped' by the Capitol of the future dystopia of Panem as part of a vicious annual reminder that the Capitol controls the destinies of everyone in the twelve Districts that remain after the rebellious thirteenth District has been destroyed. They are part of a set of 24 teens who are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the people of the Capitol. Shades of the story of Theseus here; the Cretans, too, demanded annual tributes in children from the Greeks. But this one combines the worst of reality television as well, in the contrived arena, and the forced fights. The stylists and sponsors are definitely from a more modern sensibility.

This is a very fast-paced book, and is responsible for lost sleep; I realised when my eyes drooped that it was almost one in the night, and had to slam the book shut and peel it from my hands to get any sleep at all.

Enough already. I am off to go find the next book in the series, in the hope that the thoroughly and unthinkingly evil Capitol gets its just desserts.

A note from the resident teenager: the book had 'a creepy premise' and the movie only has the name in common with the book. Fortunately for me, I haven't seen the movie. :)

[If you are interested in a modern retelling of the Theseus legend, you could do worse than take a look at Mary Renault's books, of which I've read the second, The Bull from the Sea and not the first, The King must Die. I liked the book despite its grim ending, and one of these days will get around to the first book, too.]

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