Let the Games Begin
Violence, politics, teen angst, the moral dichotomy of entertainment, and a few healthy doses of science fiction are the winning, eclectic formula that made “The Hunger Games” series of novels so endearingly popular. It is a proverbial “diamond in the rough” when it comes to young adult literature.
For those unfamiliar with the series’ narrative, it tells the story of a future world divided into various districts led by an overwhelmingly oppressive government. The government forces each of the districts to surrender two children, one boy and one girl, to what are called the Hunger Games. In the games, the children are forced to kill one another in a grueling competition that does not stop until only one child remains. The books follow one teenage girl named Katniss as she is forced to endure the harsh trials of the games. The series then branches off into an adventure that can either be seen as an action-filled suspense novel or a deeper commentary on many social issues.
The series has found a strong following among Pekin High students with Senior Zach Brooks describing the series as “Awesome. Pure Awesome.” The student following is not only contained in Pekin, as the series is extremely popular worldwide, so much so in fact that modern academia has taken notice with the books being incorporated into school curriculum.
The author Suzanne Collins has been simultaneously praised and criticized, namely for the violent subject matter her novels often deal with. The books do not shy away from often shocking depictions of violence, as well as various issues related to war. Her supporters cite this as necessary when dealing with these often controversial topics, as well as an important way to get younger readers thinking about these issues, while others deride the books for being needlessly gratuitous and inappropriate for younger readers. Pekin High’s very own English teacher Mrs. Black finds herself in the middle ground. When teaching children about war, she says it is important to realize “It’s a reality of our world and, as such, our kids will soon face it. Though it may not be appropriate for certain younger readers, it can be a good starting point for mature young adults [to get] into relevant topics.”
The controversy does not seem to be hindering the popularity of the novels, and with Hollywood prepping a big budget film adaptation and merchandise already making its way into retailers, “The Hunger Games” is sure to make its way into various media outlets, and, in turn, let its message be heard tenfold.