Monday, April 16, 2012

The Hunger Games Vs. Ender'sGame

I'm not going to lie, I suck at reviews, whether it's because I devour books and don't take notes so I can touch on key points or something else, I do not know. I can sit and talk about it with you for hours though, if you want, but good luck on getting a decent review from me. But I continue to do them, it seems, maybe, in practice I'll find success.  

There's a story though, and a giant happy accident that led me to writing about two books today, instead of one. Ender's Game has been continually recommended to me by Amazon for ages now. I had downloaded a sample, but never bothered. A friend at work had been telling me about The Hunger Games for some time, urging me to read. I have such a huge list of recommendations on back-log not to mention the series I'm invested, so I made a mental note of both books and adjusted their position on my brain-list appropriately and basically forgot about them (I never read the sample).

Cover of "The Hunger Games"
Cover of The Hunger Games
Later, I kept hearing about The Hunger Games from others, and the hype grew until eventually I decided I had to see the movie and I have a rule about books-as-feature-films: I have to read the book before I see the movie. So I commit myself to reading The Hunger Games. Only, when I sit down at night, with my Kindle in hand, I see the Ender's Game sample and through whatever folly of my own creation, I seem to end up buying Ender's Game instead of The Hunger Games, mistaking the former for the later.

This though, is one mistake that I will never regret as the result was my discovery of an amazing book. I read The Hunger Games shortly after finishing Ender's Game and understanding my mistake. However, where Ender left me on the brink of tears Katniss actually made me cry, and guys I didn't cry when I thought Harry died.

Both stories were woven remarkably well, and the most interesting thing about the whole situation is the similarity between the books, one takes place in space mostly while the other in a tightly controlled arena. Both are set in the future after some great catastrophe or war and both books have the taste of political satire all over them, they drip with it in fact and I'm not complaining because the parallels create highly compelling prose and stories so delicious you just can't help but eat the whole thing in a single sitting, no left-overs.

In Ender's Game you have a future world ruled by the Hedgemony where space warfare is reality and the warriors are the children who where monitoring devices for the first half of their childhood until they are either selected to go to the International Fleet training station in space or they have the monitor removed. Families are only permitted to be made up of four units, a mother, father, and their two children. "Thirds" are looked down upon, forbidden, except in Ender's circumstance. Ender is a "Third," his parents were permitted to have him because his sister was too nice and mellow while his brother Peter is far too cruel for the IF's purposes. Ender is protected his whole life from his awful brother by the monitor, and his sister. Just when Ender thinks he's been overlooked, General Graff, the principal of the IF station comes to recruit him to save Earth. Card's story unwinds perfectly, shocking revelations and all.

The Hunger Games also features children in a future unified North America, called Panem, where the government maintains control over the populace with the Hunger Games, an annual competition pitting 24 children, a boy and girl from each district, in a last-man-standing, every-child-for-himself death match. After Katniss Everdeen takes her baby sister Prim's place in the Reaping and leaves for the games Collins takes you on a roller-coaster ride from start to end. Does Peeta's love for Katniss extend beyond the play-acting for the Capitol crowd?  Can Katniss win the Games, or will the Baker's Son, Peeta be the one going home? Collins weaves a compelling story that leaves you shocked, mortified, feeling a little sick, sad, scared, hurt, and angry; Collins is a master of her craft and The Hunger Games is one series you definitely need to add to your rainy-day book list.

I have not yet finished the entire Hunger Games series but I plan to, as soon as I have a free day worthy of devouring a book in a sitting, but if you need a book, look no further than either of these two magnificent offerings.

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