… The Hunger Games is the next big thing apparently. I first learned of the books last year when a friend of mine was raving about how much she and her daughter enjoyed the series. Color me cautious, I didn’t share her enthusiasm then and still remain skeptical that it’s just another series looking to profit off the teen-lit phenomenon.
I mean clearly the Twilight series proved intellectually beneficial to young readers…
When it comes to children’s and young adult literature I think it’s important they have a solid grasp on what constitutes good writing and storytelling before being exposed to pop-fiction. Pop-fiction is fun, yes, but you don’t have dessert before dinner. It ruins the appetite.
The Boy shares my opinion. When he was asked why he hadn’t read the Hunger Games yet when clearly the books are so “epically [sic] awesome” he simply and honestly replied, “Well, I suppose if I never read really good literature than I might enjoy them too.”
This isn’t to directly criticize the HG series since I haven’t read them, instead my judgement is for the teen-lit craze in general. Reading is good but should we be so quick to recommend any book just for the sake of reading? If we want children to truly be passionate about literature we need to help them discern what is worthwhile of reading. When they read truly phenomenal writing they want more. When they read the latest fad in pop-lit without having read much of anything else they quickly get bored with shallow storytelling.
This is not to say that he and I don’t simply adore Harry Potter. Those books examined the virtue of self sacrifice and good v. evil with heavy spiritual influences. The HP series had a lot of Catholic elements interwoven in the plot, as discussed in depth by Fr. Roderick. My son has also recently read the Percy Jackson series and while this was his least favorite series he did enjoy it, but certainly not as much as HP or Narnia. I think the words he used to describe Percy Jackson were “mildly amusing”.
I suppose my main question for those having read the Hunger Games series, what is the intellectual and spiritual benefit from them? I’ve read this review which mentions how dark and gory the killing is but does not mention if elements of redemption are addressed or how the characters deal with the guilt of being forced to kill. Do any of the characters refuse to kill their opponent because they believe killing is a moral wrong? You get the idea. Is it reading just for the sake of reading that happens to be entertaining and action packed, or is it legitimately something more profound and worthwhile?
In the meantime, I am encouraging The Boy to write book reviews on his own blog, starting with the Mysterious Benedict Society and The Young Chesterton Chronicles. Later he will be adding a recommended reading list that will include all the good stuff [dinner] followed by the fun stuff [dessert].