Thoughts on The Hunger Games

My 12 year old daughter has been caught up in The Hunger Games craze. She went to see the movie with a dozen or so of her friends. So I haven’t seen the movie. But I am reading the books as an exercise in due diligence.

I’m not going to review the books as that has been done by much more talented writers than myself, so I’ll limit myself to a few observations on the trilogy.

1. Unlike some popular young adult fiction the romance is limited and well within the comfort zone of most parents. Where books like the popular All-American Girl series by Meg Cabot descend into a how-to manual for things like masturbation, the budding romance between Katniss and Peeta and the existing attraction between Katniss and Gale is well handled. tasteful, and even wholesome.

2. The violence isn’t graphic. Much more emphasis is placed on the anticipation of danger than the actual danger itself. But if I have to choose between explaining violence or sex to my daughter, I’ll take violence any day.

3. Nicely written. Good use of language and good pacing. If you are considering indulging in creative writing you could do a lot worse than reading the books to study the author’s craft.

4. Good lessons that are missed in many other books. The themes over and over are self sacrifice, doing the hard right rather than the easy wrong, self-sufficiency and self-reliance, loyalty to friends and family even when it runs against your personal interests, etc.

I suppose one of the virtues of the story is its ambiguous politics. A lefty can see Katniss as a OWS member facing off against the 1%. We can empathize with her as a Tea Party member. I tend to think that the books trend more right than left because the government is evil, the people are oppressed by bureaucrats enforcing mindless regulations, and so on. But that is all secondary. The books are fun to read and your child could do much worse than picking one of them up.