Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Banned Books Week: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy captured the attention of teens and adults alike a few years ago. Readers swept clean store stock of the books and gobbled them up quicker than many wanted to. When the movie was announced and trailers began to appear, the book had a resurgence in sales (although it hadn't slacked off in popularity that much beforehand) and then the craze continued with the spring 2012 release of the first film.

The popularity of the book, I believe, led to the popularity of attempting to censor the book. Last year, 2011, The Hunger Games was the third most challenged book in the United States due to the following claims laid on it: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence. In 2010 it was the 5th most challenged book but for different and fewer reasons than the following year: sexually explicit, unsuited age group, and violence. 2011 had the lowest number of challenges in the past ten years which is fantastic but still, the issue continues.

I've reviewed the three books within the trilogy; The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Not to mention a movie review and review of the book of essays written due to the series The Girl Who Was On Fire. I read and enjoyed the books - as much as one can enjoy dystopian literature.

The destruction of family's is evident in the book, yes. However, the characters are more or less in a war zone. Katniss' mother is suffering from a severe emotional removal of all around her and has been suffering from this since her husband died. Katniss, for all of her emotional trauma, seems insensitive but it also appears that she is suffering from a great deal of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This worsens as the books go on but considering what she is left to do, what she suffers, it's understandable.

There are many books on the YA market that hound in on the fact that many teens are depressed or suffer from a mental illness but there aren't many books that seem to display PTSD so clearly. It's something that is often times associated with survivors of war (which, technically, Katniss is in the books a survivor of multiple wars or battles) but PTSD can lay claim to people outside of the military or war torn countries.  ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.
I can't recall offensive language within the books... although I am quite the fan of curse words so maybe I missed them completely because I'm so used to hearing the phrases. But from what I recall, the books were rather G-rated when it came to such things as offensive language or sexual relations. There is violence, yes, and plenty of it. I can almost understand why a parent would feel uncomfortable about their child reading this book due to the intense level of violence it has. But when the book is essentially about a war, what do you expect? Television shows, movies, even commercials can be horrendously violent. The news is riddled with it as are the fronts of newspapers and that is all real life, not some silly book or tv show. Children and teens have access to videos on the internet and there is plenty of graphic material on just the news. A parent who is attempting to shield their children from the violence of these books must be awfully busy shielding them from the violence of the real world.

But for all the challenges for this book, the real kicker that brought forth a chuckle is that it has been challenged because it's occult/satanic. I... I can't even... what? I can't even touch this because it makes absolutely no sense. Not like banning books often makes a whole lot of sense but this is just confusing.

Much like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games got people interested in books. It helped promote reading and it may not be puppy dogs and cupcakes but the nitty, gritty, dirty, raw and bloody story that it tells is a good one. It's entertaining, it's surprising, it pulls at your heart and it gets the reader emotionally involved. Read it with caution? Yes. Make up your own mind of whether or not to read it? Most definitely. ©2012 Erica R Hopper. Please quote or link back, do not repost as your own.

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