The Hunger Games

You don’t know it yet, but this blog is on a slow but inexorable journey towards filling itself with heaps of fluttering, pattering, sighing wedding posts. In pink.

It’s T-77 days until The Big Day and preparation is low. In between an unhealthy obsession for books, an unhealthy quantity of work, and a desire to see my friends and family at least occasionally, the wedding has been squeezed out of the picture.

But no longer. Obsession beckons.

It bloody needs to, to be honest. Where’s my inner bridezilla when I need her? Truth is, she’d rather sit on the sofa and eat cake. I am devoting more time in wedding preparation to daydreaming of the food I will eat in the months following my marriage than the day itself. Concern about this state of affairs was prompted by a weekend spent preparing for a friend’s upcoming wedding. Inevitably, she is a wedding planner, and 6 weeks out there is not an element that is not on a spreadsheet with a deadline and ranked list of stakeholders (almost.) I have not even had preliminary thoughts on such dainties as place names and table decoration, let alone signs to the loos painted in two complementary shades of Farrow & Ball.

With this awareness of so much to be done lurking at the corners of my vision, obviously, the only thing to be done is to ignore them completely and indulge in some easy reading. In this weakened, guilty state, I really couldn’t resist downing my A S Byatt (post upcoming) for a Good Friday of the teen book of the moment – The Hunger Games.

It was quite literally a Good Friday read – it slipped down in one day of dedicated reading time, outside, overlooking fields full of lambs. But this is to its credit – it’s utterly compulsive, and not only do you have to keep reading to the end to find out what happens; when you’ve finished you’re already twitching for the second and third volumes.

You’re bound to be aware of the basic premise of a forced reality-TV show in which contestants are forcibly picked from their separate districts and put into an arena with the only rule: the last one alive wins. Slap this in a post-apocalyptic America with a compellingly pragmatic narrator, terminally unimpressed by pretty much everything, and you’ve got a recipe for the next (and improved) Twilight. While Twilight’s Bella slumps around trying to hurt herself for just a glimpse of her undead love, Katniss stalks around killing things and people to protect herself and her family. Romance is just a whisper of her complicated and deadly reality, rather than the pivot around which everything swings. She has a canny eye for the media, a hot temper, and a soft streak. What she does have in common with Twilight’s Bella is a dryness and resistance to the expectations of people/society/media around them.

And it’s this similarity, I believe, which is at the heart of both series’ success. It’s this resistance that gets today’s girls’ hearts racing. We know and resent the supposed templates that we can fit into – career girl, bombshell, life-and-soul. So anything that articulates the voice inside us that’s wryly commenting how unlike ourselves and reality that is – it’s embraced.

The older you get, the less this template thing is part of your daily life, but it still lurks around to surprise you. I currently feel I’m failing at both Career Girl and Bride, and despite the fact I wasn’t consciously trying to nail those two templates, this awareness is acutely uncomfortable. So The Hunger Games – a world of necessity, independence, and keeping your own identity in the midst of impossible pressures – is glorious escapism. And, regardless of the merry depiction of a fleet of child murderers, it’s an excellent example to 12 year old girls or 25 year old non-career-girl/brides alike.

Of course, this is already out in the cinema with a beautiful cast that goes at least some way towards negating some of the deeper meaning. Never mind. Someone get me to the cinema with some cheap wine to watch this – now. The wedding posts will have to wait.


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