Apr 1, 2011

Hunger for the Hunger Games

The other day, I found myself the happy consumer of half-priced appetizers at Applebee's. This is a frequent occurrence in my schedule, but this time the conversation stuck with me days later. Over spinach-artichoke dip, my ears perked when I heard the title "Hunger Games" float across the table. I leaped into the conversation like a jack-in-the-box and found myself surrounded by four girls who all adored and gushed over Suzanne Collins's novel, The Hunger Games as much as I do. I was in my element and shared every unabashed opinion (all mostly positive).

I'll admit, I was surprised by the many favorable comments. I've heard a lot of positive feedback before, but I've also seen and read several negative reviews. Some people are disgusted by the theme of children fighting and killing children. Some find the futuristic government control generic and cliche. These negative comments really jolted the cogs in my mind when I first finished the books. Should I recommend The Hunger Games to others? Is it edifying? Is it pleasing to God? Where is the fine line? Why did I even like the book so much? Why did I? Why did they? And like a quarter in a jukebox, my brain cells started churning.

We want to matter. It's a desire in everyone. I know it's a desire in me. We also, as human beings, want to be part of something worthwhile. Isn't that why we gravitate toward books like Lord of the Rings, Twilight, and Harry Potter? The ones full of drama, danger, and bright daring futures? We want to be part of something great and we want to matter.

I love the first Hunger Games book mostly because of Katniss and her character. I love imagining I have her fierce determination and spunk. I like thinking I could push through the worst situation possible for those I love. I like thinking I'd stand up for things I'm passionate about or that I'd stand against oppression, no matter the cost.

All this is to ask...why do you love or hate The Hunger Games (if you've read it)? Am I off my rocker or does this reasoning make sense?

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.


  1. I tend to be a very "gray" person by nature, and also extremely critical of stories in general (unless they're funny). I can't say I hate the book (haven't read the sequels). They're a great lesson on writing a page-turner, though honestly, I don't have the heart to write a fight to the death between 24 people. (I like to come back to books as old friends, and I can't see myself reading The Hunger Games again anytime soon.)

    Trying to avoid spoilers but if anyone hasn't read it, stop now!

    Really, the the selfish and foolish turn Katniss took right near the very end made me want to throw the book acros the room. I realize Katniss' emotional IQ may be even lower than mine (and that is really saying something). But her social IQ in giving the viewers what they wanted was very high. And her words/actions were completely illogical from the point of view of a third-person observer, who can already tell she feels differently than she'll admit.

    That might work, except Katniss knows full well you have to play the game to survive, and has been carefully choosing her words and actions throughout the Games to manipulate audiences. I couldn't fathom why she'd do ANYTHING to turn her ally against her before the tour, and I didn't notice her kicking herself for saying what she said, and it broke apart the one thing that really pulled me through the violent later chapters.

    Maybe I was reading too fast to buy the nuances the statement the author was trying to make. But it just seemed to me like the author was saying, "Let's have one major thing go wrong at the end so people will go buy the next book!" That made me feel manipulated and cheated, which is one of the things I have a tough time forgiving in a story.

    So, while I was curious what would happen, I felt more compelled to Google what happened than to actually read the next book. And after reading your reviews, I'm glad I DID Google the next books!

    Your reasoning makes sense, but I hope to see you write a better-than-Katniss heroine someday. :)

  2. I read the Hunger Games! I thought it was pretty good! (I reviewed it on my book blog!)