the hunger games: an analysis

The Hunger Games  Great read if...you enjoy dystopian novels, torn love stories, books about unlikely circumstances, female heroes, and satisfying endings.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of reading three very different dystopian novels – Divergent, The Giver, and The Hunger Games. I’m here to talk about the last one on that list. I can’t really call this a book review, since I’ll be talking more about themes and a couple of issues I have with this book than the actual plot and characters (although I’m sure I’ll get into that too), but the word ‘analysis’ doesn’t really fit either…whatever. You can draw your own conclusions about my word choices. I’m here to talk about The Hunger Games (hereafter referred to as ‘THG’). It’s the kind of book that sticks with you after you read it. I liked Divergent, I really did, but THG is deeper, in my opinion. I would read a big chunk of it, and then stop and come up for air, so to speak, and think about what I’d just read. Read, think, repeat.

The Hunger Games

Like The Giver, it disturbed me, but mostly in a good way (some of it, like how lightly life and death are treated just disturbed me, period, but I was expecting that, so it didn’t hit me as hard as if I’d come at it cold). I mean, I don’t live in America (although, I think Panem was actually built from the ruins of North America, so that could include Canada as well), but there are still several thought-provoking parallels between our modern culture and that of the Capitol. Our obsession with make-up, clothes, and hairstyles. The constant need to be entertained. And, most of all, the killing. How often do we watch murder mystery TV shows and think nothing of it? Or watch war movies, and don’t really care when guys get mowed down, just as long as it’s not the hero? In fact, we might even be a little glad (in the aforementioned murder mysteries) that someone gets killed because that’s what sets the ball rolling for an hour or two of entertainment. We’re becoming hardened to death and violence, and, if nothing else, THG should give us a wake-up call.

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I think Suzanne Collins made the right choice to not stick a lot of gory, gratuitous violence into the trilogy (I’ve only read the first book so far, but from what I’ve heard, the next two are relatively low-key in that area as well). She’s portraying how wrong killing is by having teens kill each other, which, you’ve got to admit, is a verrry fine line. She could’ve easily crossed it a dozen times, but she didn’t. Some of it was disturbing, in a ‘the violence is getting pretty bad, and I don’t want to read much more of it’ way, mainly with the mutts (when I read about the mutts ‘being’ the tributes, it completely freaked me out), but overall, it was fine. I wouldn’t give it to a middle-grader to read (which, apparently, is the age group its targeted at O.o), but I didn’t have any problem with it. I think the idea of teens being forced to kill each other is enough to get the message across.

May the odds be ever in your favour

Pretty much my only other issue with this book (and, I imagine, the series), is the semi-big focus on ‘the odds’. One of the most iconic lines from the entire series is the quote above, and while it may seem like nit-picking, I really don’t care for it. I mean, besides the literal odds (like ten-to-one for your name being chosen), there’s no such thing as luck, or ‘following your destiny’, or being guided by the stars. God is in control of this whole world, and nothing happens without His knowledge. I actually found the lack of any religion a bit…weird, because I don’t think that would’ve happened. Not everyone can be an atheist, right? It felt a bit odd, but I guess there are lots of books that have good stories without mentioning anything like that. I just would’ve thought that in a book where world-building is one of the key players in the story, it would’ve been explained, at least a little.

How could I leave Prim, the only person in the world I was sure I loved. But, how could I let her die?

I thing I did really, really like about this book is the themes of love. Not just Katniss and Peeta (actually, I didn’t really care much about their relationship, since I didn’t get to see much of it…the whole book was pretty much SURVIVE, KATNISS, SURVIVE – obviously, I’m exaggerating, but I can’t wait to see their relationship growing in Catching Fire), but Katniss and Prim. Katniss and Rue. Friendships in literature (and real life), are sometimes even better than a good romance, and THG is not an exception to this. One reason that I like Katniss so much, is that she took her sister, Prim’s, place in the Reaping. It meant almost certain death, since in the last seventy-three Hunger Games, only two victors were from District 12, but she still did it. Would I? Would any of us? I have no idea. Just thinking about having to go fight in the Games makes me feel sick to my stomach, so I…I don’t know. I don’t think any of us really know what we would do in any given situation, until that situation comes up (I’m not saying anything like the Reaping, would ever come up, though). And don’t get me started on Rue. I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. EVER.

Rebel.

The world building was awesome, the characters were perfect, in their own special ways (Cinna’s one of my favorites), and the ending was good. A bit of a cliffhanger for the full story arc, but the first book’s separate story is wrapped up well. There’s a good, clean romance, enough excitement and danger to keep you flipping pages desperately, and it’s deep enough to leave you thinking about if for a long time after you finish. Is it worth reading? YES. I do, however, think it’s best for children older than thirteen. And, yes, I will be reading the other two books in the series and writing a post like this for each, if at all possible.

Thank you for your consideration.

Eva

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5 thoughts on “the hunger games: an analysis

  1. Pingback: series review: the hunger games | coffee, classics, & craziness

  2. I’m doing some research on the book THG for a friend who was asking about it. I’m a bit shocked by the lack of God in the book, the “romance” at the age they are and the whole idea of fighting to the death. Seems like it promotes survival of the fittest which is anbad Darwin idea.
    On top of all of this-there isn’t going to be a post-apololtic (I can’t spell haha) world. As Christians we know that the history of this earth.
    Anyway, I’m concerned about young Christians reading these books that have no biblical basis and enjoying them. Maybe it’s time for some of you young writers to write us some new good godly novels. THAT would be awesome.

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    • The way I view the romance is that, first of all, Katniss isn’t sure whether she’ll even survive from one day to the next and since she and Peeta (and eventually Gale) are thrown together in such a horrendous, high-stakes situation, it’s natural that deeper feelings would come to the surface. She and Peeta are literally putting their lives into each others hands, after all.

      I wouldn’t say that the series ‘promotes’ survival of the fittest, as the Games are shown to be completely horrific and inappropriate on every level. As to there not being a post-apocalyptic world…well, Dad says that even though we’ll all be raptured before the Tribulation, that doesn’t mean that bad things can’t happen before the rapture. After all, WWI and WWII, the Holocaust and 9/11 all took place before the rapture. (Not to mention countless other atrocities throughout history.)

      While I do admit that there isn’t any mention of God in the Hunger Games series, that holds true for plenty of other books, including plenty of classic literature. Anyway, everybody has different convictions of what they should and shouldn’t read.

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      • I just think romance is best left to the confines of marriage and not promoted among young people. The world’s standards shouldn’t be our own.
        The definition of apocalyptic (I learned to spell it haha) is “complete destruction of the world” so that isn’t like WWI or II although I DO agree with your dad that horrible destruction can still come to us. I can’t imagine what people in those times must have thought.
        Everyone is entitled to what they choose to read. I was researching for a friend who doesn’t want her daughter reading them. We won’t be reading them here either but the discussions about them have been eye-opening. I enjoy the biblical and godly discussions one gets from researching what we should and shouldn’t do as Christians.
        Iron sharpeneth iron.
        God bless. Praying for you and your family. Love you guys.

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      • But how are young people supposed to fall in love if romance is ‘best left to the confines of marriage’? And it’s not like these books promote sex before marriage (as so many other YA books do).

        Good discussions can be fun and informative, but I would hold off a complete condemnation of almost any book until I’d read it for myself.

        Thanks for your prayers. 🙂

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