Recently I finished the “Hunger Games” series. The series follows a young woman by the name of Katniss Everdeen as she struggles to survive deadly games in which people set out to kill their opponents. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic nation that is divided into districts and the Capital. Each one of the districts is assigned to provide a specific good or service to the oppressive Capital. To discourage the people from rebelling, the Capital holds the Hunger Games every year in which two people from each district (usually teenagers) have to fight to the death in a simulated environment.
This brings me my first reason to read the Hunger Games: Teenagers killing one another. Of course, I’m kidding (mostly). The battle royal-esque situation adds a very interesting and exciting aspect to the story.
But don’t get the impression that the story is just about bloodbaths. In fact, the deaths are not meaningless for they represent something much bigger. The backbone of the series is about fighting oppression, which I have chosen as my second reason to read the Hunger Games series. This series is much more meaningful and poignant than some of the other popular young adult series as of late. Two major inspirations pressed Author Suzanne Collins to write the series. First, the Greek myth of Theseus impressed her at a young age. In the myth, young people are thrown into a pit to be killed by a monstrous Minotaur to avoid war. Second, modern reality television and footage of war impressed her to the write the series. The series encourages the reader to think beyond ourselves. It isn’t the story of survival of a girl, but of a civilization.
My third reason to read the series is the illustration of substitutionary atonement. In the first book, names of the young people are drawn from a bowl to select the contestants in the games. When the younger sister of Katniss is selected, Katniss steps forward and takes her place. This decision changes the course of the entire series and ultimately changes the world. Though it is was not on purpose, we can see Christ in this. Substituationary atonement means
that he stood in our place, taking our sins so that we can live free. As Katniss fought instead of her sister, Christ died for our sin in our place. Such things ought to cause us to praise God.
Overall, I recommend the series, but I have a couple of reservations. The books contain quite a bit of killing though I suppose it can be justified by the unique circumstances. Also, half of the first and second book reads much like a beauty pageant. Katniss is forced to dress up for interviews etc. This can make the story a bit slow, especially for the male readers. Lastly, could it be a young adult story without a love triangle? Thankfully, the love triangle between
Katniss and her two suitors isn’t as annoying as having to choose between a werewolf or vampire, but still becomes stale and awkward at times.
The books are being converted into movies. The first movie, “Hunger
Games” is due on March 23, 2012.
Thanks for encouraging more people to go out and read The Hunger Games, Brady 🙂 – it is a great page turner series.
I question though how much Katniss points us to Christ by way of Substitutionary Atonement. From my memory of the first book, Prim hasn’t done anything that needs to be atoned for (original sin notwithstanding ;)); it is simply dumb luck that she is picked for the games, which might as well be a death sentence.
Given this almost certain doom though, I could certainly see how Katniss is acting on the principle from John 15:13, that there is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends (or sister in this case :)).
Of course I haven’t given substitutionary atonement much thought so maybe I am missing something.
Francisco, I see your point. I was merely making mention of how she stood in the place of her sister. Her sister wasn’t being punished, but the model of standing in one’s place is present. As for John 15:13, you nailed it.
Excellent point and great feedback. Thank you!
I think it does point to Jesus not in the case of just Prim, but of all the districts.
The Games was a way to punish the districts for their past sin (rebeling agains the capitol), and was pretty much a death penalty for those who were picked.
I can’t go any further without spoiling the rest of the story but after reading it tru I believe it has a much broader meaning.
Maybe if there is ever another sci-fi read-along, we could do one of these.
Great idea! Ender’s Game may be a good one too since it is short. That reminds me, I need to write about Ender’s Game soon…
Best comment ever.
The first book is excellent as well as most of the second book, but the third falls pretty flat.
I’ve heard that from a lot of fans. I enjoyed the third book but I can see why people would hold your opinion.
Here’s my take on it (*Contains Spoilers*):
It seems that it was the author’s intent to show how the war is much like one of the Hunger Games, but maybe she didn’t succeed as well as some of the fan would have wanted. We spent the first two books getting a taste for the games, but the third book read more like a strange war story instead of a competition of survival. The essence of the Hunger Games didn’t bleed through (pun absolutely intended) as well as many would have wanted.
I’m curious. Has anyone heard of many Christians opposing these books? I could understand because of the violence etc. I may share in those reservations if I had kids, depending on age.
Personally, I would argue the violence is justifiable in the story.
I have not heard protests, but I honestly probably won’t take my oldest kiddo to the movie because of the violence level.
I think that is wise. I don’t see them over-doing it nor do I feel the book is really over the top, but wisdom is important nevertheless. How old is your oldest?
She’s 9, and seen her fill of action violence. I think its the idea of kids hunting kids that I find to be the issue that keeps me from letting her dip into the hunger games yet.
Well, I don’t link Harry Potter and vampires (Twilight? never), so I’m willing to say that maybe this series of books could be better for young people than the other ones I’ve cited here.
Although I’ve just read the first one, it’s interesting that the author is dealing with themes of self-sacrifice, politics (depicting a totalitarian government), our “reality show” driven society, insensibility to the poor. I also thought that this book is a little bit violent, but hey, our world is not easy for kids anymore, and I didn’t think that the author was glorifying the violence with it as others stories do. And as you said, given the context, it makes sense.
So, yeah, I’ll read the other two books. It’s well-written anyway 😉
Well, I don’t like Harry Potter and vampires (Twilight? never), so I’m willing to say that maybe this series of books could be better for young people than the other ones I’ve cited here.
Although I’ve just read the first one, it’s interesting that the author is dealing with themes of self-sacrifice, politics (depicting a totalitarian government), our “reality show” driven society, insensibility to the poor. I also thought that this book is a little bit violent, but hey, our world is not easy for kids anymore, and I didn’t think that the author was glorifying violence with it as others stories do. And as you said, given the context, it makes sense.
So, yeah, I’ll read the other two books. It’s well-written anyway 😉