I just devoured the first two books of the Hunger Games. (Pun intended.)
Riveting. Spell-binding. These books are page-turners for sure. But there's just something about this series, something that really sickens me. Honestly, I don't really know what to think about them. While I like the action and I like the suspense, there is definitely something I don't like about these books. I just haven't quite pin-pointed what it is yet.
Originally, I started the series after all the ranting and raving I saw about them on facebook. So many of my friends seemed fanatical over them. I wanted to know what all the hype was about. Plus, I wanted to have read the book before the movie came out.
Not knowing much except from what my friends had told me, I downloaded the first book to my kindle. I made the mistake of starting it at the beginning of the week. Needless to say, I was not the most productive person that week. =) I couldn't put the book down!
(Note: I'm not going to use this review to summarize the plot; so if you are unfamiliar with this series, I suggest reading these articles first so that my thoughts make more sense. Focus on the Family, CCB Review.)
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I read the Hunger Games. Generally, a book centered around teens who are forced to kill each other would appall me. I would never think of reading such a book! So why was this one different? Why did I consider it worth my time? I think it's because so many people I knew were crazy about them. They kept going on about how great they were. So I assumed it was just that. Maybe it's just me, but reading about how teens must kill each other to stay alive isn't "great" to me.
While I can absolutely see why people would love this book for its thrilling experience and relate-able characters, I just can't get past all the killing that goes on. Yes, I know it's necessary for the central plot of the story. But it's still a little disturbing. What really bugs me is how I cannot figure out the morality of these books: the morality seems to be so circular. On the one hand, killing is wrong and terrible. But the tyrannical Capital forces you to take innocent lives in order to save your own. But that's all the other person is trying to do as well! The other person is only trying to kill you because they don't want you to kill them, but the only reason you're trying to kill them is because they're trying to kill you.
Do you see how it seems so circular? I just can't figure it out. Is it honorable to kill someone in order to save your own life? If it is, then each one of the Tributes displays honor. And if all of them are honorable then no one is wrong. But I just cannot get past that there is something wrong.
I'm not saying that protecting your own life is wrong. In fact, it's right. But all of the Tributes are trying to protect their own lives. So in essence, the Capital forces these teens both to be the criminal AND the defender at the same time. You become guilty of murdering an innocent person who is only trying to preserve their own life; yet you've just preserved your own.
So this brings me to another question. Can Katniss be considered the "heroine" of the story if she is both criminal and honorable? The book series puts a bazaar twist on the dynamics of the protagonist in this plot. Is she really heroic? And if she is the protagonist then who or what is the antagonist?
I really haven't come to any final conclusions about this series. Maybe some of you could help me. I really want to know your thoughts on this series because I'm still trying to sort out my own. What do you think?
- Why (specifically) are these books best-sellers? What is different in this series that makes these books stand out above the rest?
- Is it okay for Christians to read about gore and death simply because the book is a best-seller or because everyone recommends it?
- What do you think of Katniss as the protagonist or heroine of the story? Is she really a hero?
- What do you think is the main conflict of the books? What is the struggle driving the entire plot?
- What would you say is the morality of these books?
- Is there some kind of political message the author is trying to portray? What are the major themes?
- Are these books that Christians should read?