Up next on this fine, banned book Thursday…The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Review: After the people attempted to rise up against their government and their efforts were squashed, the Capitol has maintained strict authoritative order. One of the annual happenings, and part of this strict order, is something called the Hunger Games. Each of Panem’s districts must sent two (one male, one female) tributes to fight to the death in a game of survival of the fittest. When Prim, our heroine’s little sister, is chosen to attend the games, Katniss steps up and volunteers—saving her sister from certain death. In the games, Katniss must overcome many obstacles including teenagers in survival-mode, rule changes, and much more. Eventually, Katniss and her fellow tribute, Peeta, emerge victorious.
Besides being hugely popular among teen and adult readers alike, the book has received a number of awards, most notably the 2008 Cybils award for fantasy and science fiction books. It also made the list of ALA’s Best Books 2008. The plot moves quickly, the characters are very well-developed, it is violent yet enthralling. There has also been some criticism surrounding this book—that it is too violent, not suitable for the intended audience, and so on. It was included in the top five of most challenged books reported by ALA.
I have always had a difficult time determining the authenticity of science fiction and fantasy books, but if we break The Hunger Games down to its essence, the book is about poverty and survival and what people will do in such situations (human nature). In its essence, I believe this book to be authentic. When all that is good is stripped away and people must fight to survive, they become less human. We see glimpses of such behavior in the real world on Black Friday when people get trampled, beaten, and brawls break out over discounted merchandise.
Audience: Grades 9-12; This book is quite violent which does lead me to err on the side of caution. Older high school students will have a better grasp on human nature and what one must do to survive, but Freshman are reading Lord of the Flies as required reading, which is no different. I see no reason why all high school students wouldn’t be capable of reading The Hunger Games.
Personal Reaction: I liked this book quite a lot, despite the violence. I thought The Hunger Games was really well written and it ended in such a way that really made me want to read the next in the series. I think Collins did a great job showcasing human nature in a raw, uncensored way without being over-the-top.
Themes: Poverty, Starvation, Government oppression, Survival, Family, Doing the right thing, interpersonal relationships
A few reasons for banning/challenge:
- Religious viewpoint
- unsuited to age group
- offensive language
- sexually explicit