Recently I’ve been reading critiques of Hunger Games, that the message is too violent for young people, that it glorifies kids killing kids, that the idea of watching killing as a “game”, on reality television (!), is too extreme for the target audience. (View the initial post here.)
I’ve also seen the critique that the passive role of adults in the book, allowing their children to be selected for these “games”, is unrealistic and frightening. Ya think?
Here’s my take: this book is targeted towards mid-to-late teens. Like all great literature, it has universal appeal.
This is a frightening book. If you have children or young people in your life who are reading this book or viewing the movie, you need to read and view also, so you can discuss it with them. Be aware, they will find it absorbing, scary, even disturbing.
Here’s the point: this is how it feels to be a young person. The sense of alienation, of passive adults allowing terrible things to happen, of having to fix things alone in isolation is part of what it feels like to be an adolescent in an uncertain world.
This age group needs to feel that they are gaining power in their own lives. They are learning the terrifying reality that other people cannot protect them as they were protected in childhood. They are called to leave home, live their lives, and make their mark — and it is scary!
The heros in this book do triumph over the evil “system”. They accomplish what they need to, they find success, and they retain their self-respect.
Not every young person will want to read this book or see the movie. If yours does, share the experience with them if you can, or let them know you are available to talk. Why not ASK if, in their opinion, this story is appropriate for people their age — you might be surprised what you hear.