Monday, September 17, 2012

In Other Worlds

by Alice Valdal

My book club decided to read The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.  It has caused quite a stir since its first publication in 2008, spinning off two sequels and a movie.  As I started to read, I couldn't help but notice the similarities to other dystopian literature.  Like The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, there is a barricade to separate the forest from the town.  Like George Orwell's 1984, there is a sense that the state is watching its citizens every moment, watching and waiting to bring down punishment for any deviation from the mandated behaviour.  The heroine's neighbourhood seems straight out of the slums of Dickensian London.
    Books of this genre often show starvation, either of the body, the mind or the spirit.  In Fahrenheit 451, books are burned and minds starved of intellectual nourishment.  In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, religion is outlawed, families are eliminated, (children are "decanted" and raised in hatcheries)starving the spirit of love.  In the Hunger Games, the people are physically hungry.  
    The protagonists live in a hostile environment, fear pervades the pages. The book cover is black.  Even the ending, after the protagonist has survived one trial, there is a hint that things will get worse, not better.
     I closed the book with a sense of malaise.  Why, I thought, can no one foresee a future filled with light and hope and joy?  Then I remembered.  Someone did. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, not crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."  Rev. 21: 1-4

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