As a writer of Young Adult fiction, I try to read anything and everything that is in that genre to keep current with my reading audience. That also means, even though I write from a Christian world view, that I read secular books (oftentimes paranormal) so I know what is “trending” with that age group. I read all the Harry Potter Books, the Twilight Series and most recently the Hunger Games.
I will admit I quite enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I even liked the Twilight series (go Team Jacob!)…so I had high expectations for the Hunger Games.
They say that books (and movies) define a societal thinking at the time the books are written. For example, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) was a scathing commentary on racial tensions at that time; The Diary of Anne Frank (1947) was released shortly after the Holocaust; The Feminine Mystique (1963) was the “spark” that lit the feminist movement of the 60’s. Books give a hint to how people view society and if I take that theory and run with it, based on the Hunger Games, society is at its most hopeless state ever.
I was surprised, no…shocked at the violence in the books. These are not books that have a classic “good vs. evil” theme with “good” ultimately triumphing over evil. This is a corrupt, futuristic world that pits children against one another in gladiatorial combat games to the death. Innocents placed on the altar to appease the “Capital” gods. It is a society that has absolutely no morals or ethics. It is bereft of hope…and turn away now… (*Spoiler Alert*…there’s not a happy ending).
Is this the way that our young people view today’s society?
Recently I came across a discussion between a few Christian parents on Facebook about whether or not they would allow their children (12 years and under) to read books (or go to movies) that show people killing other people. Right away I thought about the Hunger Games. The books are intended for a Young Adult audience but I know for a fact that children much, much younger have read the books and are lined up with their parents now to see the movies. It does concern me, I’ll admit.
If I expand upon my initial theory and determine that books (and movies) hint at societal mores at the time they are written; if the Hunger Games are indeed a snapshot of how youth perceive the world around them today, then we as adults must take note.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
“And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.” (Jeremiah 7:31)