The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins. Published in 2008.

I checked out a copy of Suzanne Collins’s well-reviewed YA novel solely because the premise immediately recalls that of the cult classic Battle Royale. For those who haven’t experienced the Japanese movie, it’s an elaborate, bloody melodrama about a group of adolescent schoolmates forced by a police state to fight to the death as part of a poorly explained effort to suppress dissent. When you watch Battle Royale in the United States, someone always notes that it was banned here (not true: it simply never found a distributor) or that it could never have been made here (OK, that’s probably true), so the existence of an American book aimed directly at teenagers with that exact forbidden plot cracks me up.