The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy January 11, 2011

One of the hottest books in the children books section is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins published by Scholastic, Inc. Not only is this book popular amongst kids, but their parents as well. There are waiting lists at libraries around the country for the three books that make up this trilogy.

In light of this weekend’s massacre, I was thinking that The Hunger Games is a book that is more relevant than ever. If you are not familiar with this book, you should be. The Hunger Games, while brutal, is in actuality a critique of a mindlessly violent society and the cost that violence renders. This book does more to show the constant child sacrifice to the altar of death that violence demands in a way that no other book in recent memory reveals. The Hunger Games critiques an overbearing and dictatorial government, the role of propaganda media has in continuing violence, and the herd mentality of people. Yet, the hero of The Hunger Games is a young girl of fourteen, Katniss, who becomes a revolutionary figure and decides to fight for her freedom against tyranny. The Trilogy consists of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and MockingJay. They are wonderfully, brilliantly, written. Everyone I know who has started the books, cannot put them down until they are finished.

While these books are considered “childrens books,” I would not allow anyone younger than high school to read them because of the terrible themes. I was told by a friend of mine, though, that her 10 year old son was encouraged by his teacher to read them! Evidently, teachers’ groups deem these books worthy for little ones. I do not agree. But parents should be aware so that they can defend the innocence of their children. It is especially ironic that our schools are pushing this when the very idea in this Trilogy is the critique of a culture of violence.

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  • These books are being used for the annual “Common Experience” at Ohio University this year:
    http://www.library.ohiou.edu/commonexperience/general/common-experience-statement-of-purpose

  • These books are being used for the annual “Common Experience” at Ohio University this year:
    http://www.library.ohiou.edu/commonexperience/general/common-experience-statement-of-purpose

  • Thanks for talking about this! I heard the name of the trilogy on the news and I’ve been meaning to look them up to learn more–so this was useful! I’ll probably buy them now.

  • Thanks for talking about this! I heard the name of the trilogy on the news and I’ve been meaning to look them up to learn more–so this was useful! I’ll probably buy them now.

  • Julian Barkin

    “The Hunger Games critiques an overbearing and dictatorial government, the role of propaganda media has in continuing violence, and the herd mentality of people”

    This theme is nothing new in literature. George Orwell’s 1984. Less violence but same circumstances. Enough said.

  • Julian Barkin

    “The Hunger Games critiques an overbearing and dictatorial government, the role of propaganda media has in continuing violence, and the herd mentality of people”

    This theme is nothing new in literature. George Orwell’s 1984. Less violence but same circumstances. Enough said.

  • RCM

    Really, Julian? Well, gosh, why bother to read any books since, frankly, the Bible has ALL themes covered. I also know that Orwell does not cover child sacrifice.

    • Julian Barkin

      I didn’t mean it in a negative demeaning tone as in “Don’t buy the books.” I just meant that many of the similar themes or points in the series have been covered before. You know how in fashion the same things get re-used over and over and you might as well raid your parents’ attics for their old clothes to save money? I just feel like it might be a sense of Deja vu. Does it mean the books are awful? No! In fact I’m pondering getting the series with the remainder of my gift card money from Chapters/Indigo, if Cambridge Latin Course materials and “An Irish Country ___” series doesn’t sway me first.

      As for child sacrifice in 1984, it’s not direct, but one could say that if a child was to have an anti-government thought, he would be arrested by the thought police and either killed or medicated, the latter which happened to the two protagonists in the novel after getting caught.

      • RCM

        Oh. I am sorry I assumed the worst, then.

        • Julian Barkin

          No problem. I forgive you RCM. I myself are guilty of the same sin at times because of my conservative thought and well I’m more reactive than proactive at times.

  • RCM

    Really, Julian? Well, gosh, why bother to read any books since, frankly, the Bible has ALL themes covered. I also know that Orwell does not cover child sacrifice.

    • Julian Barkin

      I didn’t mean it in a negative demeaning tone as in “Don’t buy the books.” I just meant that many of the similar themes or points in the series have been covered before. You know how in fashion the same things get re-used over and over and you might as well raid your parents’ attics for their old clothes to save money? I just feel like it might be a sense of Deja vu. Does it mean the books are awful? No! In fact I’m pondering getting the series with the remainder of my gift card money from Chapters/Indigo, if Cambridge Latin Course materials and “An Irish Country ___” series doesn’t sway me first.

      As for child sacrifice in 1984, it’s not direct, but one could say that if a child was to have an anti-government thought, he would be arrested by the thought police and either killed or medicated, the latter which happened to the two protagonists in the novel after getting caught.

      • RCM

        Oh. I am sorry I assumed the worst, then.

        • Julian Barkin

          No problem. I forgive you RCM. I myself are guilty of the same sin at times because of my conservative thought and well I’m more reactive than proactive at times.

  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

    Thank you for this recommendation. My sons, 14 and 16 devoured this series. They both spoke highly of it. I glanced at the back of the first one and was not particularly interested, so never went further with it.

    Since peace is more than the absence of violence, I think it is important to expose our kids to literature which calls into question the presupposition in favor of violence and the culture of death which pervade our society. I am going to take another look at these books from that perspective.

    • RCM

      David, funny you mention how you didn’t want to read these books because the ONLY reason I read them is because my book club chose it. And I know for a fact, that if I hadn’t been “forced” to read them, the topic alone would have scared me away. I am SO glad my book club has good taste.

  • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO

    Thank you for this recommendation. My sons, 14 and 16 devoured this series. They both spoke highly of it. I glanced at the back of the first one and was not particularly interested, so never went further with it.

    Since peace is more than the absence of violence, I think it is important to expose our kids to literature which calls into question the presupposition in favor of violence and the culture of death which pervade our society. I am going to take another look at these books from that perspective.

    • RCM

      David, funny you mention how you didn’t want to read these books because the ONLY reason I read them is because my book club chose it. And I know for a fact, that if I hadn’t been “forced” to read them, the topic alone would have scared me away. I am SO glad my book club has good taste.

  • Personal Failure

    I just read these books. They are absolutely amazing, but I would not give them to someone under 14, or an especially sensitive person. They are amazingly well-written and well worth the read, but they are also brutally violent.

    No more so than the Bible, though, now that I think about it.

  • Personal Failure

    I just read these books. They are absolutely amazing, but I would not give them to someone under 14, or an especially sensitive person. They are amazingly well-written and well worth the read, but they are also brutally violent.

    No more so than the Bible, though, now that I think about it.

  • It is a good story, and I think it makes some great points. The third one is a bit weak, but that happens …

    Yes, I agree about the reading level. These are young adult novels, not real kidlit. I’d treat them as rated PG-13, and hold to it.

    More than that, the commentary on a culture of violence is very well done. I was especially struck by the makeup team, which seemed to think that Katniss should be caught up in the fun of the games.

    • RCM

      Yes, I have been thinking about the whole makeup team and also the entire community in the Capital. Don’t you think that our society is the Capital? Especially that device/medicine that allows them to puke so that they can eat some more, or the mindless enthusiasm the citizens of the Capital have for the live killing of children? It made me critique our patriotic parades more than anything else has.

      • I agree completely. I actually read the trilogy with an adult reading group at my local library, and we spent quite a lot of time talking about what life would look like in the Capital. How much different would the perspective be, and might we see a lot of ourselves in it?

        I wish I’d thought of the analogy to the parades, because that’s brilliant. We did talk about people who cheer for crashes in NASCAR and laugh about football injuries (or recent talk about how sports are being “wussified” as we get concerned about injuries), and the casual killing of foreign civilians.

  • It is a good story, and I think it makes some great points. The third one is a bit weak, but that happens …

    Yes, I agree about the reading level. These are young adult novels, not real kidlit. I’d treat them as rated PG-13, and hold to it.

    More than that, the commentary on a culture of violence is very well done. I was especially struck by the makeup team, which seemed to think that Katniss should be caught up in the fun of the games.

    • RCM

      Yes, I have been thinking about the whole makeup team and also the entire community in the Capital. Don’t you think that our society is the Capital? Especially that device/medicine that allows them to puke so that they can eat some more, or the mindless enthusiasm the citizens of the Capital have for the live killing of children? It made me critique our patriotic parades more than anything else has.

      • I agree completely. I actually read the trilogy with an adult reading group at my local library, and we spent quite a lot of time talking about what life would look like in the Capital. How much different would the perspective be, and might we see a lot of ourselves in it?

        I wish I’d thought of the analogy to the parades, because that’s brilliant. We did talk about people who cheer for crashes in NASCAR and laugh about football injuries (or recent talk about how sports are being “wussified” as we get concerned about injuries), and the casual killing of foreign civilians.