I’ve always liked young adult literature, as a child, as a young adult, and still now. I recently read a popular series, The Hunger Games. When I first heard that it was about kids fighting to the death, my first reaction was, “That doesn’t sound like something I would like.” But I read it because my nieces could not stop talking about it, and I had to see what they meant. And now it’s one of my favorites. Even with the violence, the politics, and the war, it was a beautiful story–about war and peace, and about love.
One of the saddest parts of the story to my nieces was Prim’s death. She was their age, and it’s understandable that it would hit them the hardest. What hit me about Prim’s death was her seeming destiny to die. She was the one picked at the Reaping, not Katniss. Katniss volunteered to go to the Hunger Games to save her sister’s life. She volunteered to die for her. But in the end it was Prim who died, Katniss who survived–against all odds. What irony.
Another part that stuck out to me was at the end, the conversation between Plutarch and Katniss:
“Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?” I ask.
“Oh, not now. Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,” he says. “But collected thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”
“What?” I ask.
“The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.”
I doubt it. I have heard that the human race will be destroyed, and only those who chose to follow God will be saved. No, this cycle of war and peace will continue until God decides the end has come. God forbid my children should have to live through any war. But there’s no guarantee. I try not to think about what horrors my descendants will have to endure. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on that. I remember ten years ago how afraid I was to give birth, and how guilty I felt after I did. I didn’t want to bring a child into this world where one thing is guaranteed – that they will suffer. But something else won out, and I’m glad it did. In the epilogue of Mockingjay is a song that Katniss and Peeta’s children take for granted:
“Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
And when again they open, the sun will rise.
Here it’s safe, here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.”
My children take that song for granted too. At least for now. And I am so grateful for that.
My favorite part of the book is when Katniss and Peeta finally get together. It’s what I was hoping for, but I did not know what would happen. When he whispers to her, “You love me. Real or not real?” and she tells him, “Real,” it’s so romantic! My husband is going to tease me for that, but I don’t care! I am a girl, after all.
I have heard some criticism on The Hunger Games series – that they are trash, that the violence was gratuitous, that no one should read them or allow their children to read them. On careful reflection I have to disagree. I don’t criticize the opinion, I just don’t agree. I am a very sensitive person and when something is not right, I can FEEL it. And I did not feel that these books were trash or that I should put them down. Yes, war is horrible, and I think only older children, usually teenagers, are mature enough to read about it like this. The author admits that it’s for older kids, and says she tried hard to not make the violence gratuitous. War is an important subject for people to learn about. We can’t just turn away because the topic is hard. The story of Jesus’s torture and death is horribly violent, but I certainly teach my children about it. The awful details are saved for when they’re old enough, but the story is still told. So I’ll hold on to these books to share with my sons in a few years, the same way I’m just beginning to share the also-highly-criticized Harry Potter series.
I’m always grateful for a good story. Any recommendations?