As most of you know, every incoming freshman class is given a book to read the summer before entering Seton Hill University (SHU). In past years, the books have included “Three Cups of Tea,” “This I Believe” and “They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky.”
Next year’s reading assignment breaks the mold of inspiring creative nonfiction; it is the young adult bestseller “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.
“The Hunger Games” is a gripping and addictive narrative filled with intense violence. The story follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, in post-apocalyptic North America.
The society of Panem is divided into 12 districts and ruled by the corrupt and manipulative Capitol. The Hunger Games—reminiscent of gladiator games– are hosted by the Capitol to keep the districts from rebelling again. Two tributes are picked from each district in a lottery system that punishes large, poor families.
Everdeen volunteers as a tribute for District 12 in place of her sister and is accompanied by Peeta Mellark, a childhood acquaintance. District 12 tributes haven’t won the Games in years, and their mentor is a drunken mess.
Everdeen and Mellark go to the Capitol for training and then begin the games, where the goal is to be the last one alive. A love triangle develops when Mellark declares unrequited love for Everdeen, who is romantically involved with Gale Hawthorne at home, as a scheme to win the love of viewers- oh yeah, the people of the Capitol are forced to watch their tributes die.
The District 12 tributes are pulled into a rebellion of which they are initially unaware. The corruptness and violence of the Capitol grows more and more clear, as well as the need for resistance.
The book is definitely focused towards young adults and is written accordingly. However, there are serious political and social parallels with modern society such as a cultural obsession with violence. Readers are encouraged to consider the ways the Capitol reflects modern governments. While reading, the Capitol may feel unrealistic, but the parallels serve as a reminder that any society can fall victim to corruption.
As a university with a “Writing Popular Fiction” program and focus, the seemingly odd choice of novel is less surprising. A novel of this nature may inspire freshmen to enjoy the book more than they would reading a nonfiction tale. Also, the choice of a young adult novel could bring to light the deeper meanings and values in young adult literature that are often overlooked by adults.