Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughts On "The Hunger Games" Trilogy

“Ladies and Gentlemen...Let the Seventy-sixth Hunger Games begin!”
(quoted from Katniss and Finnick in Mockingjay)

Since the Hunger Games movie was released in March it’s been hard to ignore.  Everywhere you turn...on the bus, in the airport, in the food court...people young and old (wait a minute did I just call myself old) are reading books from this trilogy...The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, or Mockingjay.

I prefer a good read to watching a movie and decided it was time to see what all the hype was about.  A quick click of the mouse downloaded the trilogy into my e-reader and off I went on a Hunger Games adventure.

The books sucked me in.  I couldn’t put them down.  I had to keep reading, even if it meant a few late night sessions.  After a week I finally finished the last book and could reclaim my life!

The weird thing is I found the whole premise of the books really disturbing, but I couldn’t stop reading.  Adults force kids into an arena to fight to the death as a form of entertainment.  The books are filled with poverty, violence, and the fight for survival under a powerful and corrupt government system.

My mind paints very vivid mental pictures and some of the images turned my stomach.  Yet I was compelled to continue the books to the end.  And I’m not the only one drawn into this dark story. 

I’m left asking the question, “Why?”  What is it about this series that attracts the teenage and adult audience alike?

It’s kind of like driving by the scene of an accident; that sense of horrified fascination.  You know you shouldn’t gawk but you just can’t help yourself.   I think it’s the same sense of horror we experienced when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers.  The world couldn’t tear itself away from the horror playing out in front of them on the TV screen.

 A friend and I were discussing this phenomenon.  She suggests perhaps it’s just a little too close to the truth in some parts of our world.  Children and families are used, abused, and manipulated by corrupt government bodies.

Violence fills the streets in some countries.  Poverty and hunger run rampant.  Victors return from war with post traumatic stress, forced to re-live, over and over again in their minds, the horror and atrocities they’ve experienced.

No one gets out of these situations unscarred.  No one comes out unchanged by the violence.  Rebellions are happening all around the world; struggles for freedom and independence - a better way of life.

Is today’s world really that much different than that of Suzanne Collins’ fictional country of Panem?  Are people of today’s world so much different than the characters of Katniss and Peeta; manipulated as pawns in both the government’s and the rebel’s plans, but refusing to bend to either one completely?

Are we any different than Gale, whose moral boundaries blur in the heat of the war or Prim and her mother; innocent people caught in the middle of tragedy?  Are we different than Haymitch and Johanna; fighting an internal battle with nightmares from the past and medicating the pain with alcohol and drugs?

The Hunger Games trilogy isn’t an easy read but it certainly gives us a lot to think about.  The story haunts you even after you’ve finished the books. 

Have you read the books or seen the first movie?  What’s your reaction?  Share your thoughts on my Facebook link or by clicking on “Comments” below.

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