I’m going to preface this by saying that I have not read the Hunger Games series, nor have I seen the movies. Everything I am going to say is what I have gathered from talk by friends and family on them, as well as Wiki, so I could see what the main plot was about.
And after reading it all, hearing what people have to say, I can honestly say I don’t plan on reading them any time soon. I think it’s great that there are books out there that get people wanting to read, I really do. They become a part of our generation, of our world and culture. Some of them are good (The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings), some of them aren’t built in worlds that could work, but connect with people at such a level that everyone knows it, even if they have never read them (Harry Potter). Others have redefined a created a new twist on an old myth (Vampires in Twilight). They all have their issues, but they all have a place.
I look at the Hunger Games the same way. It is something that, at the moment, has become a pervasive part of the world and conversation. It remains to be seen how long it will stick about, but judging from what I hear and see, I think it’s here to stay for at least as long as Twilight and Potter, if not perhaps as long as Tolkien. But at the same time, people are reading about kids killing kids when we get down to it. And not just that, but it’s kids killing kids for entertainment for the wealthy of the world in this series.
There are enough kids killing kids in real life, do we really need to sensationalize it?
My sister is 12, and she has just finished reading the series. She would tell me about what had just happened, such as reading about a child in the games around her age being mauled to death by monkeys or some such. Or wasps killing another. Or two children making a suicide pact at the end just so that there would be no winner. She is twelve. Yes, she sees worse on the news about shootings and killings, wars and earthquakes. But I always saw books as a way to escape that. And true, there are fights in Potter and Tolkien, there is death and destruction, even of kids. But the majority of them were written for the older age group. And weren’t kids killing kids.
There was an article I read a few days ago about a mom who went with her kids to a midnight showing of the film and came out in shock. Her words are perfectly to the point: “I didn’t expect to come here and see a movie about the young Israeli soldiers sent to occupy the West Bank”. Over dramatic? yes. But she raises a good point. (read the rest of it here if you want, I highly suggest it).
I remember when September 11th happened. We were watching in classrooms, and saw all the footage. And by the end of the day, I had grown almost numb to what I was seeing. The fact that maybe my sister could get numb to kids her age dying… that frightens me. A lot.
And hey, maybe I’m over reacting. I mean, I do play the Deus Ex games and enjoy running around with a laser sword and a flame thrower… so I contacted some friends who HAVE read it and asked their opinions. I’m posting the questions I asked and the answers I received.
Question and Answer with a Mother (not mine)
1- As a mother, did it disturb you at all to read about kids killing kids? If not, why? Was it because you knew it was only a book?
it disturbed me, i think, mainly on the level of a human being. I don’t think I brought so much of “being a mom” to my reading of it. these books totally got to me. I’m not joking when I say they broke my little heart all the way through. I sobbed like a baby through much of the end of the third book. but it wasn’t .. I don’t know, it didn’t always feel like kids. I had to remind myself at a couple spots that Katniss was only 16 and 17 when this is taking place.
2- What do you think draws people to them (the books)?
it’s a compelling story, certainly. you really start to empathize with the characters. I couldn’t put it down… I worried about them and wondered what was going to happen until i got back to the book. it’s this world that’s so detailed and familiar in some ways …and yet such a mystery. so i think the storytelling has a lot to do with it. that she unfolds this society as the story progresses. it’s not everything over the head all at once, the layers keep coming. and the characters are great. katniss is sort of oblivious and flawed but sincere. and the love triangle doesn’t hurt.
The violence is probably up there. It’s shocking, and that’s what gets people talking st first. But the more you dig into the story, you realize it’s about friendship and loyalty, love and loss. It’s about the futility of war, the disparity of socio-economic classes, the inherent cruelty of humanity. It touches on a lot of issues that we face in the real world, only they’re magnified by a thousand. People just relate to a character our a situation easily. I remember I read Catching Fire in about two nights. You just get sucked in to the story.
they’re not graphic .. well, there’s a lot of fighting and killing.
i’d let my kids read it in the next couple of years.
2. Oooh, good question. Depends on which people. For teenagers, young adults, people my age (I’m 19) I think the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale is a major draw. Shippers pour their hearts out on the internet over how much they love one couple and want them to be together forever.Also, though, the characters are very interesting, and I’m sure everyone can find one to whom they relate, even if the situation in which the characters find themselves is nothing like the readers’ lives. I know there were times while reading the books that I felt a certain kinship with Peeta and Gale. If I can see myself in a book, that makes me love it.
Third, the action. What can I say, the books are action-packed and fun to read. I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat through all 3, but especially in Hunger Games and Catching Fire I was very interested in seeing what happened next, how things would turn out. Action keeps people interested, keeps them reading.
1- I wasn’t particularly disturbed by the concept. I think It may have somthing to do with knowing they were only books. Plus, I was aware of the setting and the importance of understanding how the actions of the characters fit into the world.
2-I rather enjoyed them. I found the story compelling and the characters interesting. I believe that the strength of the story comes from the important meanings we take away from it and the lessions we learn. In esscence, it’s a cautionary tale about overcoming the odds and the dangers of consumerism.
3- Well I think that you should be at least 13 before reading these books, while not overly graphic in its discription death is a constant companion to the characters. Someone reading the tale should be mature enough to handle that.
1- It didn’t disturb me because it was just that well written and that well set up. The disturbing part was the fact that the children were put into that situation, not really the fact that they killed each other.
2- The story is compelling, a post apocalyptic world that’s rebuilt on the back of oppressed districts who must offer up tributes to compete in gladiatorial games once a year.
3- The first book, I’d say is okay for early teens. Yes, it’s got questionable subject matter in it, but not terribly so, and it’s not graphic about any of it. The second book gets darker than the first, and the third is much darker and more violent, but even still, not graphically so. The subject matter ages with the reader, so I’d probably put an 11-12 age limit to begin the series, but it’s not anything worse than they’d see on TV these days anyway.