Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games Triology

Have you heard about the girl on fire? She's all over the internet and in the hands of over 2.9 million readers. Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games trilogy, has even been brought to life by Hollywood. Written by Suzanne Collins and marketed to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, it’s the only book series on the lips of youth since the Twilight saga, and it seems to be the next best thing. But, is it? I had to find out.

After reading the trilogy last week, I have to disagree. While definitely fast paced and almost made-for-movie like, The Hunger Games fell short of greatness. As a cross between The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Hunger Games series misses its mark at truly being a well written piece of prose. The author rushes the books in order to bring the series to a close, leaving the third book, Mockingjay, seeming hastily written.

As an adult reader, I could handle the over played, graphic concepts of murder, oppression, psychological strife, deceit, materialism, denial, among others. My eldest son, however, has no business reading this series. The first book alone has 22 characters murdered in the arena; two fathers dead because of a mining accident; and all other sorts of vile concoctions to engage the readers. Katniss, herself, comes under great mental duress throughout the series due to the unbearable idea of murdering others. How does this affect the child reader?

Sure, one might say Shakespeare’s works have most, if not all of these aspects embedded throughout scenes and acts; the Greek tragedies are riddled with these elements as well. Yet, these stories are not set in our time, in our country, with our children.

Today’s youth have been born into a society very challenged with in-your-face media and instant technological gratification at their fingertips. They see so much of the world at a young age without proper understanding or guidance; and as a parent, I could not hand these novels to my son and say, “Happy reading.” The subject matter is beyond his scope. The idea of children murdering children for sport is psychologically disturbing.

I do not believe in censorship of books. I do believe, however, in knowing what your child can handle per their age and emotional level, as well as walking your child through novels to deal with such grown-up topics. We will read The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies when the time is right. We will analyze Medea and Agamemnon when he is much older and more mature. There will be discussions on many “hot-topics,” but not yet.

I urge caution when allowing your children to read this series or any all the rage novels without reading or researching them first. I would have been mortified to know I had allowed my son to read this series, for I would have let him down.

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