Don’t Judge The Hunger Games Until You’ve Read It!
Once upon a time, we asked readers to send us any thoughts they may have on the books, movies, fandom, or pretty much anything else related to The Hunger Games (Note: This is an ongoing opportunity!) We got so many fantastic guest entries, including this!
Check out Rue’s Melody and her response to an adult figure telling her and her teammates that they shouldn’t read or watch The Hunger Games… even though this woman has never read the books herself.
I am writing this letter as the result of an event that took place last night. At a team practice (for which I was not present), my younger team mate informed me that our coach had lectured them about The Hunger Games when they mentioned that they wished to watch the movie. She told them that the series were awful and horrible, and not something that they should ever read or watch, though she had never read the books herself.
I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion in the literature department, but I also believe that opinion should be informed. It seems to me many authorities, such as my coach, in children’s lives have decided that The Hunger Games is “bad” and “horrible” simply because they heard or read a short synopsis, or watched a movie trailer. They seem to believe that simply because the premise is violent, that the books must be all about sensationalism and violence. I wish that these people would read the books themselves as I’m sure they would soon realize Suzanne Collins’ world is so much deeper than that.
The main argument I hear against the books is that they are violent, glorify violence, and are all about violence. However, these books are a far cry from this preconceived notion. The Hunger Games is about the exact opposite. Collins’ books do everything to completely remove any sort of “glory” from the violence. Where as some other books almost seem to make violence this sensational thing to read and enjoy, The Hunger Games has you weeping and your heart breaking. Never once in the series is violence lauded into something it isn’t. Rather Collins rips away every bit of the farcical display of innocence that seems to pervade our society, and exposes violence for the horrible and ugly beast it is. She also constantly reminds us of the high price, both physically and mentally, that comes with it.
However, The Hunger Games is so much more than a mere warning against violence. The Hunger Games is about sacrifice, sacrificial love, trust, and family. The Hunger Games is about the value of life, and fighting to stay grounded. The Hunger Games is about preserving ethics and morality in a society devoid of both.
The Hunger Games is a warning of what our society could become. Like it or not, in many ways we are The Capitol. The Hunger Games forces the reader to think about the effects of commercialism, materialism, and what happens when we demand more and more sensational forms of entertainment, and disregard the value of human life.
Unlike many “worlds of the future” Panem is not some crazy alternative reality and society that could never be. Instead it is entirely plausible for in 100 or 200 years from now for our society to morph into something akin to the Capitol. The series shows what could happen if we again let the Roman mind set of “bread and circuses” take over.
The Capitol citizens sit protected deep inside a mountainous fortress, well feed, safe, and living in luxury, while the citizens of the surrounding Districts struggle to survive. This may seem like a bizarre idea, but large similarities abound between the affluent society we live that always desires more, more, more, and can never be content while hundreds of countries around the world have families desperately trying to survive on less than a dollar a day. The further readers traverse in the series, the more they will run into parallels between Panem and today. They will discover more and more how twisted and perverse the dichotomy of the Capitol and Districts is, and how chillingly close the world today resembles the Capitol.
Despite the seemingly depressive storyline, there is good and redemption in the books as well. The cast of characters give readers someone to admire. Time and time again, we see characters make sacrifices and decisions that few would dare to make. The series starts off with Katniss taking the place of her younger sister in the games, demonstrating a love so deep that she would be willing to die in Primrose’s place. We see the rebels rise up to fight the horrible injustice of the Capitol, ready to die to save others they may not even know. In all the darkness, there is light. Throughout the book humanity always shines through, sometimes as a beacon, sometimes as the slightest flicker of candle light, but not always in the ways you would expect.
I believe everyone high school age and older should read The Hunger Games, and any mature 12 and 13 year-olds that can handle the depth and gravity of the story line should read it as well. It is not if you should read The Hunger Games, but rather, when. These books are no walk in the park. They are a heavy read, violent and depressing at times, but extremely well written, well paced, and very poignant in out society today. The Hunger Games will make you think; even boggle your mind at times. These books force readers to face many things, good and bad, and are much, much, more than a sensational battle of teenage gladiators.
Please, before you ban your children from the series, and tell everyone you know that The Hunger Games is “bad,” read the book yourself. Find out for yourself the amazing depth, and gravity of the series. Read and discover the warnings, symbols, and allegories. Whatever you do, don’t just write these books off because of a synopsis or trailer. This generation needs to understand the concepts of The Hunger Games if we ever wish to prevent such a thing from happening.