The Hunger Games is a young adult novel written by American television writer and novelist, Suzanne Collins. It was first published in September of 2008, by Scholastic Press. The book is set in a dystopian world in the country of Panem, where the long-forgotten North America once existed. The Capitol, a state-of-the-art metropolis, has an iron grip on the rest of the nation, and to prove this, they host The Hunger Games. These ‘games’ are an annual event in which one boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are randomly selected in a form of lottery. The twenty-four of them are then are shipped off into an arena to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. The rules of this contest are simple and very clear: Kill or be killed.
Here is an excerpt from a Fox News article on The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins:
“… Collins, who famously avoids doing interviews, said that the premise for ‘The Hunger Games’ came when she was channel surfing between reality shows and news coverage of the Iraq war. ‘I was tired and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way’ she told Publishers Weekly… ‘There’s no fantasy element [in the Hunger Games]. The violence is not only human on human, its kid on kid. I think that automatically moves you into an older range.’”
Wikipedia states: “[Collins] is the daughter of an Air Force officer who served in the Vietnam War.” Experiencing war and tragedy firsthand, Collins has some superiority on the subject; making The Hunger Games very real and believable. The scenes are sharp and crisp, making the reader feel like they are truly a part of the event. I believe that the author has achieved her goal of creating a very physical fictitious world, awaking the majority of youth to the cruel reality of our economy today, and bringing realization to what our homeland might possibly become.
Parents, I think that if your mature pre-teen or teen shows interest in this book, you should allow them to read it. Please don’t buy into the lie that The Hunger Games glorifies violence. Yes, the book includes some violent scenes, but they are necessary to fully understand the brutality of a nation who has become desensitized to human suffering. It’s a perfect wake-up call to the blindness which this generation has accepted as the ‘norm’.
If you still aren’t sold, then I want to inform you of the most recent addition to the ‘American Library Association Banned Books List’. The Hunger Games made number three on the top ten most often banned books list, with people stating that there was “sexually explicit content” in it. This is simply untrue. There wasn’t a scene that even breached sexually implicit! Sounds to me like a sorry excuse for the government to ban a book which they are afraid of.
If you don’t want to just throw the book into your child’s hands and have them chew on the difficult subject matter alone, then I suggest reading it with them (what my mom and I did) and discussing important areas when necessary.
Art by Morgan – credits for her inspiration below.
Though exploring the concepts of hardships and war may seem difficult for today’s teenagers, it seems all too important to learn about these concepts before having to experience them first-hand. American kids can enlist in the military and experience actual combat at age seventeen, so it seems impractical to prevent them from reading about it. There may have been a small amount of relationship content in the books, but it was only included to strengthen the characters. The plot stole the show.
In the second book of the trilogy, the rebellion begins after seventy-five years of crushing rule. The third book ends with a twist and leaves you wondering who you can trust. It couldn’t hurt today’s young adults to look into things beyond American Idol and Desperate Housewives for an idea of what’s really unfolding in our present society. Hauntingly, the large, centralized, tyrannical government which controls the districts of Panem is not such a fictional possibility when we compare it with our current culture’s direction.
The villain of the story, President Snow, threatens the main character of the book and rebel leader by saying, “Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire, you have provided a spark that, left unattended, could grow into an inferno that destroys Panem.”
It might be that Suzanne Collins has provided a spark for this young generation to become more aware of the role that the government plays in society. I think it could be a good thing to see teenagers taking hold of their future by becoming active in the process that shapes their government. Hopefully, with a good dose of faith and a growing knowledge of the realities facing their times, they won’t have to rely on the ‘odds being in their favor’.
Credits for Morgan’s drawing inspiration go to: