And now I’m back

Oh hi there! How are you? Me? Oh, I’m fine, thanks. Now that I’ve finally finished all three books in The Hunger Games Trilogy. I read them on my iPad. I don’t know how many pages the books were, but on the iPad, all three books totaled 15, 215 pages. I swiped my iPad screen 15, 215 times in the last four days.

My eyes hurt.

Yep. I took the plunge. I started The Hunger Games Saturday night and I finished the third book, Mockingjay, last night around midnight. I have done absolutely nothing in between those times. Except turn thirty-four, which I largely ignored anyway, so no big deal.

So my take on the books: I was skeptical when I went in to the series. I didn’t want to like it but, alas, I did like it. I had to fight through the first five chapters of the first book, which I found to be painfully boring. I almost gave it all up, but once the story finally picked up, I was hooked.

From a story standpoint, the books were great. There was a love triangle, lots of action and fantastic descriptions that pulled me right into the world of Panem. I could see it and smell it and feel the terror of it all.

That is great storytelling.

My suspicions that it isn’t the most grammatically sound piece of literature were correct, but I see the freedom that the author took with creative license and I could appreciate it. There were a few paragraphs that were overly fragmented in my opinion and a couple of times I laughed out loud at the, perhaps, overly judicious use of creative license, but overall I understood why she wrote the book the way she did and why an editor didn’t change it.

About half-way through the book I started to feel a bit squicky about the idea of watching the movie. There was this nagging idea that the author was making a pretty braod social statement, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. But all I could think was that The Hunger Games were meant to be a thing of entertainment. People from the Capitol watched children killing each other as a means to entertain themselves.

Doesn’t it seem odd that we would want to watch the movie in that context?

By the end of the series, though, I got it – I saw exactly where the author wanted to lead us, which made watching the movie version of the book less offensive to me (though I still don’t know if I’ll see it). The Hunger Games is supposed to be an allegory of war. It’s a loose allegory and I think it’s meant to be an extreme picture on purpose.

We send young people into battle and they have to fight to the death with the knowledge that really, there can only be one victor. But in the battle, the good guys and the bad guys get muddied and soon, everyone kind of looks alike, because the battle for survival makes us all act in desperation.

Just as in a war, the end results of The Hunger Games are devastating. The victor is never the same, having seen and done things that are unspeakable. The families of the victims are forever left without their child and every community is ultimately affected with the horror of it all.

But who is the Capitol supposed to represent? This is something I had a hard time figuring out. Maybe it’s not a representation of any one thing or group of people, but on occasion I got a vague sense that maybe the Capitol was supposed to represent America and it felt a bit underhanded.

Other times, however, that didn’t seem to be the case at all.

In the end, it was one more story that leads us to believe that the only answer is a sort of Utopian society, where a new race of peace loving people is the only hope for the world. A nice thought, I suppose.

But in the end it’s all just fiction, isn’t it?

So what do you think? I realize I’m roughly two years late to this conversation. I’m edgy like that.

*eye roll*

In all honestly, though, before I read the books I truly had no idea what they were about so I’ve read nothing on the subject. What message did you take from The Hunger Games?


  1. I really enjoyed the first 2 books….the last one not as much! BUT, the movie REALLY bothered me! I had been able to put some distance between myself and the “kids killing kids’ thing while I read, but to have paid money to watch it on the big screen as entertainment seemed somehow SO wrong.

    I thought the author’s creativity was great in the way she set up the “games”. I loved Katniss’ sacrifice for family and for something bigger than herself.

    Hope you had a great birthday!

    • Oh I LOVED the character of Katniss. I loved how real and complex she was. She was a true hero who had no idea she was a hero. She was flawed and reluctant and equal part totally selfless and compeltely selfish. Her character was developed so well and was so compelling.

      As for the movie, I’m interested to hear more about how the killing was depicted. I would assume their was some discretion used in killing scenes, but at the end of the day, whether they showed everything or nothing, the fact remains that we, like those of the Capitol in the book, are willing to watch children kill each other brutally as a form of entertainment. To me it seems to be irony at it’s highest. 🙂

      • There was “discretion”, but still…. I had not even considered the fact that it would bother me to watch it, but it seemed somehow worse to have paid money to “see” it than to read about it!

  2. I’m just now reading the series as well. I finished the first book the other night and haven’t read the other two. My seventeen-year-old son inhaled the series and couldn’t wait for the movie. But, like you, I have no desire to go see a movie that is largely about children being forced to kill other children for the entertainment of the masses. I don’t care what kind of message the author is preaching…watching children die on screen has not been a line that has been crossed in cinema (you’d know the child died…but you didn’t see it directly) and as far as entertainment goes…watching it being playacted out is only one tiny step from seeing it in real life.

    Who was it that said art imitates life?

    Anyway, *gets down from soapbox* like you I couldn’t help but be entertained by the story. I don’t know if I’ll go further into it or not, but the characters and their world were very real to me. So I suppose if you’re judging literature with that as your lithmus test…it’s good stuff.

    Dark, depressing and violent…but good.

    • Yes – really good description. “Darl, depressing and violent.”

      It also had redemption, which was a relief because the third book was terribly depressing and I found myself hoping that there was some light at the end after all the time I’d invested into the story. I’m pleased to say that there was. 🙂

  3. It definitely hit home with us (me, Kevin and Joel) as the Capitol representing America and the other districts are the rest of the world. People in the developing world are busting their backs to provide Starbucks with coffee beans (or name any other indulgence we have) but they can barely afford to feed their own families. But of course, after a missions trip where we watched a single mother of 7 get excited about the 10′ x 14′ house we built for her to cram into that would be the message I would get. I bought two other companion books that dissect the philosophy and themes of the trilogy and we are going to make a school unit of it for next year.

    • Great idea Jenni. I read the series as well to relate to our middle school students in the youth ministery. Then I provided some questions that parents could ask their students to help them look at the books through a Biblical world-view. I would be interested to know which companion books that you selected.

      • I’d love to know what those books are as well because I find her underlying theme a bit fascinating and convoluted and I’d love to hear what others have to say – and the author herself.

        As for the Capitol mirroring America, in so many ways I saw it, too. I spent 45 minutes on a treadmill this morning watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Only I didn’t have headphones so I was watching it silent, which, really, is SO MUCH FUN. It’s like Mystery Science Theater inside my head as I make up dialoge between them and it’s hilarious. Makes working out totally worthwhile.

        But I couldn’t help thinking that they would be right in the middle of things in the Capitol, with their painted faces, ridiculous clothes and scads of excess.

        On the other hand, I get a little weary of America always being painted as this selfish, all inclusive nation that has no idea how the rest of the world suffers. People do know and a lot of people care and are doing something about it. A lot, of course, choose to ignore, but they aren’t ignorant to the plight of the rest of the world.

        It’s all a little twisted and the end of the book totally took me off guard, but that’s when it all clicked that this was an ultimate message about war itself. When the rebels – the good guys – are willing to sacrifice children as a means to an end, suddenly the ultimate message gets flipped over. It’s brilliant story writing, because by the end I realized exactly what she wanted us to think. That war can never just be about good verses evil, because somewhere along the way, everyone starts to act and react the exact same way.

        Very interesting, indeed.

        • The Hunger Games Companion by Lois H. Gresh and The Hunger Games and Philosophy: a Critique of Pure Treason, edited by George A. Dunn and Nicolas Michaud (Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series).

  4. Great insight Kelly. I thought I would also let you know that my sister writes a book review blog and did a recent post on the Hunger Games. You might find her site interesting. It is: Hope you guys are doing well. Tell Lee I said hello!

  5. OK – I admit it, I The Hunger Games…am I the only one? *cue crickets*

    But I have to say, I bet you totally ROCKED book reports in school….you did, didn’t you….

    • Hehehehe…

      I was an English Professional Writing major. I had to know how to dissect a piece of literature to get a diploma. 🙂

  6. I love that you took the time to read all three books. It can be so easy for us “spiritual-type” mamas to get in a cycle of only reading Christian-y books. I do make it a point to read a few fiction books each year, but I will be completely honest and say that I am a total snob when it comes to fiction. The writing has to be nearly impeccable, and I don’t read anything that my 24-year old sister and her friends read and gaggle about. {The height of snobbery, I know! But this is a girl who wouldn’t touch “A Time to Kill” with a ten-foot pole, so I hold her literary taste in very low esteem.} So I haven’t read these, I haven’t read the Twilight series… I do think {having seen all of the movie trailers and read the book reviews} that the main issue I have with this series is that it was written as children’s lit.

    I did enjoy reading your review; I feel like I have a better sense of the series, and although I still won’t be reading them I do feel like you have raised their status for me. {I am sure Suzanne Collins just breathed a huge sigh of relief. Ha ha!}

    This is my summer to plow through some history books I’ve been looking forward to, and you have inspired me to turn off the tv and start digging in to that Doris Kearns Goodwin that’s been staring at me for months now…

    • Not “A Time to Kill.” Mercy, that really played well into my snobby tirade, huh? I meant to say, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

      Hey, we all have our dirty little beach-read secrets, right?

      • Aaaahhhhh…

        That made me laugh. I can be a bit snobby when it comes to books and at first I didn’t plan to read The Hunger Games either, but curiosity got the best of me. Yeah…that they’re being marketed to kids is a little odd, but I honestly don’t know what age Young Adult pertains to so I don’t have a lot to say in the matter. I actually don’t think these are bad for high schoolers to read because they really do open up a ton of room for discussion and are great for learning how to search a book for themes. Dissecting these books isn’t hard, perhaps because they were written with young people in mind.

        It’s not like trying to read a Hemry James novel and figure out what the heck is going on, ya know? Oh how I hated reading Henry James.

        I do, however, love BOTH “A Time to Kill” and “To Kill A Mockingbird.” we could be good friends. 🙂

        • So I just read your post about not having read the Hunger Games, and I saw your comments about the Poisonwood Bible. (My husband and son are in your neck of the country right now, so I have some time on my hands…)

          Anyway, that is one of my all. time. favorite. books. I read it at least once a year. The layers in that book are astonishing. Seriously, we could totally be friends in real life. (Notice I didn’t say IRL, ’cause I’m an old lady.)

  7. A comment someone left on Facebook opened my eyes to another societal statement Collins made in the books and that is our current obsession with reality television. I hadn’t really picked up on that myself but found it interesting that reality TV played a part in the downfall and evil of the Games. 🙂

    • I have seen that link before in some reviews. It makes sense… there are definitley elements of ancient Rome in our reality shows now. We love watching a train wreck.