“We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”
I’ve put off writing this post until I’ve finished all three of Suzanne Collins’ books in The Hunger Games trilogy. I wanted to make sure I had all the facts, and that everything was straight in my mind before I sat down and tore humanity apart. Unfortunately, even after finishing the final book, Mockingjay, last night, my thoughts are still not straight.
My first foray into The Games was amongst 12-16 year olds in a packed theater. The Hunger Games had been out for one night at was already making records. Making people talk. But as I sat around these young people, I was unsure of what to think.
The premise, for those of you who may have been vacationing in a third world nation with no TV or internet for the last couple months, is the distant future of North America, a country now called Panem, comprised of 12 outlying districts who all provide food, products, etc. for a all-powerful Capitol. A Capitol who forces 24 children, aged 12-17, to fight to the death, leaving only one victor, year after year as a reminder of it’s power.
I am still sickened. Yes, a fabulously written series, one that I can see schools adding to the curriculum once it becomes a little less mainstream, and therefore a little more boring for school children. The story of humanity. The story of war. The story of power. But with all of these, comes the story of hate, hunger, and evil.
I sat in this theater and heard girls giggle when Haymitch, a past winner of The Games – and a total drunkard – first appeared on screen. This is where my heart started to hurt. This man, who had obviously done and seen unimaginable things, was driven to drinking so that he can not feel. So that he can not remember. So that he does not have to deal with what he was forced to witness and participate in. Why were we giggling at his drunken state? Why weren’t we heartbroken for him?
As the movie continued, my tears silently fell. Looking around, I was one of the few people crying. Was this entertainment? Was this a love story to these children? I felt as though we were missing the point of the series.
As I read all three books, I had so many people asking me how much I loved them. I didn’t know how to answer. Yes, they were riveting. I definitely could not put them down. But did I love them? No. I did not. I found them absolutely painful. Heartbreaking. Saddening.
I won’t ruin the story for any one, but throughout the entire saga, I saw war. I saw the effects of war on people. On children. On families. On love. And I think Ms. Collins did a phenomenal job covering ALL of it. All the aspects of war (although, I assume she cut out the “boring” aspects of war in favor of a book that was not 700 pages long). The nightmares that Katniss Everdeen, our leading lady, faces every night are founded. Are real. Are how we would all react, if we were able to handle things well.
So do I love these books? No. Will I read them again? Most definitely. When my children are young adults and we need to learn about war, hate, power struggles, and hunger, we will pick these books up. But I am still confused about how I feel. Hopeful, yes. The series does end with a bit of hope, which I am glad for. But disgusted, sickened, sad, and heartbroken are all adjectives I would use to describe my feelings. And not just for the books, for our human kind.
For the girls who giggled at Haymitch, not understanding why he drinks. For the mother’s who have written about the movie, stating that it was unsuitable and too savage for their children. For the teenage readers who are caught up in the love triangle which they may think is the center story. For the readers who did not get what I believe Suzanne Collins was trying to say. For our humanity, which has seen brutality like that in Panem before, and can get there again if we’re not careful. And not to mention, our relationship with third world countries.
As a side note: Jon has read the first two books. He has mentioned that perhaps I am as sickened by these books as I am because I am pregnant and bringing a child into this world. He might be right. I might be a bit oversensitive.