In Defense of The Hunger Games

Yeah, I’m still here.  It’s just not a good time for a change.  Maybe later this month, or in May or…

The girls have up a really sweet post about Houndgirl‘s big loss and about a happy rescue story.   In addition to dog walks, I started our taxes, did some knitting and finished The Hunger Games.

I’m going to review them as the trilogy that they are and attempt not to reveal too much, but first, a disclaimer…

I resisted this series for a LONG, long time, because of the whole setting.   I don’t care for apocalyptic literature.   I avoid dark topics, because life is sobering enough.  And yet, “everyone” kept telling me I needed to read these books.

I’m glad I did.  I’m still trying to figure out how to trick the Knight into taking me to see the movie, but I am also sure that it will have a soundtrack that Gretchen will love.  (She adores a movie with a suspenseful score in the background, a la Harry Potter.  She’s adorable… she watches the movie, but it’s clearly the sounds that hold her attention.)

Anyway.  I didn’t love the ending (to the series).  I didn’t love any particular character.  They were all horribly and yet realistically flawed.   I had planned to just skim through the actual “games” parts (in case you’ve been under a rock… the story centers around tributes [teens] who must fight to the death for the “entertainment” of the citizens, as a grotesque reminder that rebels never prosper), but when I got there…  I couldn’t. 

The actual killings were not the focus of the books.  The impacts the acts of killing had on the “victors” was painful and well-covered.   The emotional scars ran deep for the victors, the dead tributes’ families and throughout the cast of characters.

Regardless of what you think of the setting, these books are remarkably well-written.  The characters are compelling, even when one (me!!) doesn’t particularly “like” any of them.  

My biggest complaint is the ever-present love triangle.  Harry Potter flirted with more than one love triangle.  Twilight is famous for its love triangle.  Even my new rave Iron Fey had a love triangle.  Is this really a message our society, particularly our teens, needs reinforced in popular literature and movies?!   Gosh, I hope not. 

I’m not saying it isn’t relevant or realistic.  In fact, I clearly remember at roughly Katniss’s age having an on-going debate with my college freshman friends, based on a line from a popular song…  “Are you going to stay with the one who loves you, or are you going back to the one you love?”  In defense of my teenage angst self, we also debated Tennyson’s notion that it’s better to love and lose than to never love at all.   Anyway, my point is that at that age, I needed to be reminded that love is sustainable, love is enduring… and lust isn’t.  I didn’t need to be told that it’s normal to be in love with two people, and I certainly didn’t need to given the idea that it’s perfectly okay to kiss two different boys just because it feels nice. 

Oh yeah.  This was supposed to be IN DEFENSE of, not an attack on.   Sue me.  My point was, this series is about so much more than world politics, the disgusting practice of fighting to the death for entertainment (I like to blame the Romans, but I’m guessing its origins go back even further…), regional bias and/or stereotyping…

What I did relate to and adored was how time after time, family bonds – both blood and “chosen” family – won out over selfish or even “greater good” options.   The ever-learning philosophy student still alive and kicking in my head (and heart) would enjoy picking a theme and writing a thesis.   Two of my favorite classical philosophers, Plato and Aquinas, would DEFINITELY have PLENTY to say about this trilogy.

Never mind that Plato would dismissively wave off my disgust over the arena and what happens within.  Never mind that Aquinas would want to talk about how the tributes’ self-reliance and inability to reach out to God for aid was their downfall…   It would be a GREAT debate!

What have you reluctantly read only to be sucked in to the point of obsession, at least for the few hours it takes to finish said book(s)?


17 comments on “In Defense of The Hunger Games

  1. gmariesews says:

    Interesting discussion. I wish we were close enough to have a book group. I read a Patricia Cornwell novel – From Potter’s Field. My sister had given it to me and I got to the really gross and gory parts and was so involved I had to finish. I will admit to “listening” to the rest of the Kay Scarpetta series as books on tape. While they are far more gorey than I would choose to read, I can listen to them for some reason. Strange, eh? g

  2. AlisonH says:

    Um, I had a friend who highly recommended a certain book that shall remain linkless that I tried to get into, but at about 20 pages realized it fit the Dorothy Parker model: it should be hurled across the room with great force.

    I love Oliver Sacks, although I ahve to plow through some of the technical details that are a learning experience.

  3. Katherine says:

    Thanks for an interesting review. I have toyed with reading the books but DD is pre-reading them for granddaughter. I may get to them eventually after the current backlog! I generally don’t like books, TV or movies with a “death for entertainment” theme. On the other hand, I confess to being hooked on Kathy Reich’s forensic science books on which the Bones TV shows are based. They get rather gruesome at times.

  4. Nichole says:

    Thank you for the review! I never was interested until I started seeing press for the movie and hearing the actors talk about the books, characters, etc. I do want see the movie … and read the books!

  5. km says:

    I haven’t read HG yet, but everyone says I should. I haven’t read HP either.

    We had Puss In Boots from netflix this weekend, and the cats drove Holly nuts. :0)

  6. km says:

    OK…if I use a different email address then WP will accept my comments.

  7. Amy says:

    As much as I have thought about reading ‘The Hunger Games’, I tend to shy away from reading books just because they are popular or have a movie made after them. It took me at least four years after the first Harry Potter book was released to start reading that series (which, I love, for the record.)

    See, I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic settings. I think that is why I’m a huge fan of the Walking Dead (it isn’t just the zombies – it is the characters and they dynamics they create. How they react in the world now that it is essentially over.) There is also a short story that I read some years back called ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson. It kind of goes along with this theme.

    I just finished reading the Jackson Brodie ‘series’ by Kate Atkinson, and have moved back to finally reading book two of the Thursday Next ‘series’ by Jasper Fforde.

  8. Karen says:

    I haven’t read the book yet; but I am tempted. I don’t know about dragging The Knight to the movie! Sarah went to see it and left before it ended. She indicated it didn’t do the book justice and she was bored beyond belief. I am, as you know, finishing the last of the wine country mysteries now. I have thoroughly enjoyed them. I like a good, easy read to relax with in the evenings. I especially enjoy reading ones set in our own beautiful area/state. Thanks for the recommendation on these. My next read will be Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand: a novel, for my book club. We have all decided that will be our joint read for the next month.

  9. Sue says:

    I used to be that way reading books about the Viet Nam War. There were a couple that gave me sleepless nights for a long time. Recently I didn’t plan to read Water For Elephants until a friend insisted. I couldn’t put it down and though I can’t say I liked it, it wasn’t likable, it stayed in my head for weeks. One of the better recent reads.

  10. Mary says:

    Cannot read apocalyptic or gory stuff. No ifs. No ands. No buts. I get little enough sleep as it is without adding nightmares to the mix.

  11. Marjie says:

    My boys have read the trilogy. I don’t have enough time to commit to something that long. Lots of people like it, and it’s certainly good for a discussion!

  12. emmy says:

    Thanks for your review Chan. My youngest son who is 14 almost 15 has read them all..started last year for school. He repeatedly begs me to read them and I am horrified at the little I know about it and keep refusing. He wants to see the movie. Following your review I think I will give it a try- He will thank you.

    I remember feeling the same way MANY MANY years ago when my now 23yo was reading a book about a boy whose parents had died and he lived in a tiny room under the steps…TOO DEPRESSING! I said over and over…I have now read all the books in the series and seen all the movies and they are one of my favorites.Guess history ( and you) are telling me something.

    Great review!!

  13. kathy b says:

    I see enough drama in real time in the NICU..Im a movie wimp….
    Dare i say I ENJOYED little house not the prarie reruns with my mom last weeK?

  14. Anita says:

    I’m still on the fence about reading the HG. I’m just not a fan of teen reads. While I was a teen at one time I do not prefer to go down that road again. LOL. And I have a hard time relating & being sympathetic. I guess I’m just a hard ass. ha ha. I do have the HG series in my nook wish list just in case I change my mind though. 🙂

  15. Blond Duck says:

    Haven’t read Hunger or Twilight Games and am proud of it! 🙂

  16. Walden121 says:

    You just make me want to read it even more!

  17. True…however, I’d say she was more confused than truly thinking it was okay. Like Amy, I love apocalyptic type things. I guess they remind me that things could be so much worse. Stop and smell the roses and all that. Then again, I also have to be in the right mood. Plenty of times I just want something happy and easy.

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