Monday, April 02, 2012

Hungry for the Games

A few months ago, Amy asked if she could read a book recommended to her by a friend. I’d not heard of it, so off to the internet I went to do a little research. And what I read freaked me out.

“You want to read a book about kids killing each other?!”

And that’s how the fascination with The Hunger Games started at our house.

Amy assured me that many of her friends had read the book. And many of her friends’ moms had read it, too. I’m really not sure why I said, “Yes,” but I did, and Amy devoured the trilogy in a week. When the movie came out, she arranged a movie night for the youth group to see it opening weekend

And then she started telling me to read it.

Last week, I gave in and cracked open the book. I still had concerns that I’d a) let my baby read a book about children killing each other and b) let my baby organize a movie night where other people’s babies watched a movie about children killing each other. I began the book, hopeful I hadn’t made some horrific mistake.

I finished the first book in two days. Two days later, I finished book two. I started the final book in the trilogy last night, and it is a dadgum miracle I’ve done anything at all productive today, because all I want to do is read the book. Amy told me I should just give in and finish it, because until I do I won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

She is right.

For the two people in the universe who haven’t heard of The Hunger Games, it’s a book about life in a post-apocalyptic country called Panem.  The country has an annual game where a boy and girl from each of the country’s 12 districts compete to the death, thus reminding the citizens that anything resembling a previous rebellion will not be tolerated. We see the events unfold through 16 year old Katniss Everdeen’s eyes, one of the 24 who will play in the Hunger Games.

Yep. It’s a book about children killing children. And it is as horrifying as it sounds. But it’s more than that. It is part social commentary and part science-fiction. And it’s a really, really engaging story.

Quite honestly, I’m shocked the conservative community didn’t go the whole, “Boycott The Hunger Games,” route. It went nuts over Harry Potter and his magic; I am positively amazed that didn’t happen with these books. Unless we’ve actually learned a valuable lesson. That sometimes, scary, dangerous material can actually teach us. That reading about pretend struggles of good vs. evil will actually help us as we battle our very real struggles. That what’s horrible in a work of fiction may not be so far from reality and it could serve as a wake-up call.

I haven’t finished the third book, but I am banking on good winning in the end. Not sure, exactly, what that will look like in this case, but I surely do hope Katniss and Gale and Peeta figure out how to live together. And that two of those three live more together than they do at the end of Book 2.