That was probably the most controversial title I've ever typed into this little posting box. I know many of my readers are going to turn away from this post in disgust and think I've gone down the wrong path in my Christian walk, but please bear with me and read the post before you form opinions. Thank you. :)
First, if I hadn't read this book, I would have completely agreed with you that it was dark, evil, and not something I wanted to feed my mind. Not much about it particularly appealed to me, and as a general rule, I don't read the top books for teens that everyone raves about, because nine times out of ten, they turn out to be trash.
But . . . I did read this book. And that's what I'm here to talk about today.
The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
*Summary from Goodreads.com
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love
My Thoughts: As previously stated, I came to this book with some trepidation. Annual games where people fight to the death, all for the sake of entertainment? I was stuck between two conflicting opinions: a. I didn't feel quite right saying I disagreed with the books having not read them myself and b. I wasn't sure I wanted to put myself through that if they turned out to be as horrible as I thought they were.
Unless a book is a classic and held to a standard that no one can shake (think Charles Dickens or Jane Austen), I prefer hearing good things about it from people I respect before I read it myself. In this case, it was pretty incredible how many times friends of mine (including Christian adults I hold in high esteem) would confirm that this book was worth reading. At my tutorial, my friends kept saying it was amazing, and even my biology tutor said she read and enjoyed the books. I asked, Was the violence overdone? She responded that it was for a more mature audience (this isn't a book for ten-year-olds), but that she didn't find it to be too much. Then I asked, Was there any inappropriate content in it? She said she didn't find there to be anything that should cause me to worry.
Then a ladies' book club of which many women from our church are a part read THG — since their children are reading the books, they wanted to be aware of the content — and Mrs. T said that she came to it with some apprehension, but her opinion changed by the time she finished the book. Her most dominant remark was that she found the situations in the book to be eerily applicable to what our country currently faces. She also compared it to The Giver, a favorite book of mine.
All that to say . . . I decided The Hunger Games were at least worth a shot.
Pros: The story is very fast-paced and keeps you turning pages. The characters are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games, but that does not mean they are in any way supportive of them or of the Capitol. Katniss is extremely protective of her small family, being the primary breadwinner of the family since her father's death in a coal mining accident. Self-sacrifice is another huge theme in this book. Though she knows her chances of surviving the Games are slim, Katniss still sacrifices herself for the sake of her little sister, Prim. Peeta is also constantly giving of himself for Katniss's sake — protecting her, leading the enemy away, etc., even when it means getting wounded himself.
It should also be stated that, like The Giver, The Hunger Games contains that spirit that something is not right in the country's government and it is up to the characters to change that, rather than passively going along with whatever the Capitol says. Peeta mentions that he doesn't want to be "just a piece in the Games," and also that he still wants to be himself. He doesn't want the brutality of the Capitol to change him into someone he isn't. I think this is something a lot of our fellow American citizens should consider, since we see the federal government gaining more and more control of our country on a daily basis, while people just stand by and watch.
Cons: Violence plays a large part in this book. I didn't find it to be too much (keep in mind this is coming from a girl who loves The Patriot), but this is definitely a book for a more mature audience, and parents may want to read it before giving it to their children. Though Peeta's love for Katniss is innocent and heartfelt, she fakes some of the romance in order to pull on the audiences' heartstrings, which I did not like. One character has a habit of drinking too much, but to the author's credit, it is shown as being wrong.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 15+, depending on the parents' judgement.
A Bit O' Reading for the Day:
“You don’t forget the face of the person who was your last hope.” — The Hunger Games