The Hunger Games: Amusing Ourselves at their Deaths
Over the Easter break, we enjoyed a first in our family – we all read the same books together (or to be more accurate, competed with each to be able to start the next instalment before one of the others got to it). We all devoured Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and it was a lot of fun, leading to a number of great chats. We didn’t it feel appropriate for our 10 year old to read the third instalment (‘Mockingjay’) because there were parts that were genuinely scary for that age (and in fact, had to get her to skip around 20 pages of the 2nd, Catching Fire). But Rachel, my 13 year old and I read all 3 and thoroughly enjoyed them. There’s so much in them, quite apart from being gripping yarns.
And so inevitably, I found myself chewing over the various big ideas in my mind, and couldn’t let them go. Having seen the first film and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’m really looking forward to the follow up movies. But books can, of course, have the potential to do so much more than films. They can offer much more nuance and subtlety for starters. That’s not always the case, to be sure. But it was certainly true here. Which I was pleasantly surprised to find (not being so well versed in ‘young adult fiction’ myself).
click on the images to get hold of the books
The result is one of my write-ups for Damaris’s CultureWatch. It don’t quite feel that I’m ready to let them go just yet, so this may work itself into something more substantial in the future. But don’t hold your breath! What got me really fired up about the books was the surprise of how political they are. There are cultural and mythological references aplenty, and Suzanne Collins clearly draws on a wealth of dystopia writing. But it was thinking about that fact that reminded me of Neil Postman’s great opening discussion in his seminal book Amusing Ourselves To Death, weighing up the cultural merits of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian vision over against George Orwell’s. And then it struck me. Suzanne Collins’ books depict a grim future world where BOTH got it right. Fascinating.
Since I got rather carried away, the review of the trilogy is too long for one article – so is going to be posted in 2 parts. Read it here: