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Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

I’ve recently had several people ask me about The Hunger Games, since the Super Bowl trailer apparently caught the eye of the general population.

The basic premise is pretty much summed up in this passage from the book:

“The mayor steps up to the podium and begins to read. It’s the same story every year. He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained.

The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins. Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch—this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.

– The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

So no, this is not “just another Twilight.” There is a romantic angle to it, but even that isn’t quite as straight forward as you might first think. I imagine it might get played up a bit more in the movie than it is in the book. But the real meat of the story is 24 teenagers, from 12 years old to 18 are randomly selected and then thrown into an arena to fight to the death.

Only one can survive.

All done to show the districts that the power of the Capitol is absolute.

And, of course, for the Capitol citizens’ entertainment.