The Hunger Games Review

Ask my husband a question about any player in the NFL or the NBA and you'll find something odd. Not only can he spout out statistics about how they play, but he can tell you where they went to school, what kind of family they came from, and what shortcomings and trials they've had to overcome. Stories compel us--from real sports players to reality tv stars, from the Twilight cast to the news, our need to relate drives us toward stories that speak to us.

And this is exactly what you find in The Hunger Games. If you haven't heard of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, then clearly you've been living under a rock for the past year or so. From the books to the recent movie release, Katniss' story has swept into the hearts of the American public at large.

At first I resisted. A story about teen on teen violence (and sometimes teen on child) wasn't exactly appealing to me, but after the eighteen millionth twitter or facebook posts by obsessed fans, I was convinced to join the bandwagon, if for nothing more than exploratory reasons.

I was hooked.

I finished the first book in two days, falling in love with the wounded warrior Katniss and her humble protector Peeta. Katniss is the 'every woman' archetype, wounded by life, the sole provider since her father's death, responsible for both her mother (who has checked out) and her sister. But she doesn't let her life get her down--she's a survivor, a cunning hunter, and though she doesn't make friends easily, she somehow wiggles her way into the hearts of those she meets. Much like Bella in Twilight, her slightly quirky personality makes her that much more loveable. We relate to her pain, understand her awkwardness, and love her strength. Her story is ours, and it draws us in.

And yes, the story is violent because Katniss lives in a world where human life isn't respected, especially for those outside the Capitol. Collins message is clear here--if we keep heading down the road we're on, our end becomes Katniss' world, a world where human lives have little more meaning than an animal, where everyone is numb to each others pain, and where the rich watch the poor tear each other to shreds in a real life gladiator arena.

Collins has given us a great story, and an even more important message, but this is where my Hunger Games honeymoon turns sour. In the theater, not far from where I sat was a seven year old and a four year old, both sporting a Hunger Games tee, and later that night while perusing the internet were pictures of Hunger Games themed cookies a mom had made her children.

I cannot help but think this sends the opposite message the books and the movie are trying to portray. In the storyline, Katniss and Peeta are both disgusted and disillusioned with the Capitol and the games. The reader becomes keenly aware that the Capitol is sickeningly entertained by these games, betting on their favorite one, cheering as each team from the districts are presented. And is this not the very thing we buy into also when we sport tees and Hunger Games themed pastries (despite the irony)?

Let's be clear here. This is not a fun filled family thriller. This is a social commentary with a killer story, and it isn't a story that should be taken lightly.

And yet I feel like some fans (and many parents) have missed the mark. A story about a teen living in a world where children are forced to fight each other to the death isn't something I want my kids buying fan paraphernalia over. It's something I'd want to discuss intently, helping them understand the importance of the message, the horror of what they've just seen, and the value of human life. If we're doing anything but this, we're missing the point entirely.

That aside, The Hunger Games books and movie are worth your time. They are compelling, action-filled, with a heart-wrenchingly important message. They are however for mature audiences only, so leave your small kiddos at home and do me a more Hunger Games themed pastries please. I'm sure even Suzanne Collins herself might wince at that one.

**Note: Comment or discuss away but your posts will be removed if they are angry, disrespectful, or personal. This is a book (and movie) review, not a theological debate. If you cannot state your opinion without name calling or calm discussion your comments will be removed. All comments on this post are moderated.***

**some original content and examples have been changed to promote unity**


  1. Great post, Alex. I've debated about seeing the Hunger Games for the reasons you were reluctant to read the books. The message of the Hunger Games is similar to the one my father used to share with me when I watched Saturday Night Wrestling as a youth, back when KTVT was still an independent channel. He said, be careful - it was blood thirsty carnality that drove the Romans to slaughter Christians, foreigners and slaves in the arena for sport, and ultimately that very drive for more and more carnal pleasure and entertainment is what led to the fall of the Roman Empire.

    He didn't particularly have a problem with wrestling. He had a problem with the way people were engaged in and drawn to the violence as entertainment. Then, I thought his words were a bunch of HOOEY, but today, with recent years showing us kids "practicing wrestling moves" and killing and maiming themselves or others... I have to think he was dead on.

    Your words are powerful and your caution appropriate to parents of children who may be drawn into the violence and excitement of the movie rather than the cautionary tale of future outcomes. Praying many will read and heed the caution. You are a blessing.

    1. Thanks Michelle. Please, if you like it pass it on via fb and twitter. I think it's important that we warn parents and caution kiddos that it's not just a story with violence to get into, it's a cautionary tell of what our society might come to if we let it.

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  6. You said you were open to discussion on the subject yet you've deleted the conversation now. Hmmm.

    1. Lezlie, I feel that this discussion has become personal, and if you'd like to continue it please email me at

      Again, this is all over a fiction book. It wasn't meant as a personal affront on you or anyone you might know.


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