Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Read Again)

The Hunger GamesTakeaway: Still a great book. Violence came through even more in audio format.

This is a review of the book, not the movie.

Yesterday I finished listening to Hunger Games.  This is my second run at this book. (Original Review) I like to re-read books in a different format.  So the first time I read the hardcover at the beach.  This time I listened to the audiobook.

Pretty much everyone knows the basic story by now.  Katniss chooses to participate in the Hunger Games to save her little sister.

The Hunger Games is an annual fight to the death contest that the government runs to exert its authority over the outlying provinces in a post-apocalyptic North America.

This is an odd book to be the current young adult obsession in the vein of Harry Potter and Twilight.  The books are good, I sped through them the first time I read them.  I like young adult books. I like dystopian books.  I like teenage rebellion, we know better than the adult books. But Hunger Games takes a lot of the ideas of many others books and plays them together in a new twist.

The biggest thing I noticed in re-reading is that in audio, the violence is much more wrenching.  I am sure that the visual nature of a movie will make it even more wrenching.  So as I think about the movie I wonder how they will do it (I have intentionally not read any reviews).  There is no way to do this movie, without showing children killing other children on screen.  After all, the central story line is about a fight to the death.

I am somewhat encouraged the rise of the young adult dystopian novel.  The call against war and violence is rarely as clear as through stories about war and violence. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book, the movie had very little to do with the themes of the book) and Lloyd Alexander‘s Westmark Trilogy are some of the few other books that I think have anywhere close to the call against violence and war that this series has (although I think Mockingjay is where it is really strong.)

What I think is important about Dystopian novels is not only the ability to point out depravity and the inevitable hope that usually comes, but the limits of the hope. Dystopian novels rarely end in ‘happily ever after’. Sin still will pervade the world. Things may be better, but it is not ‘the new heavens and the new earth’ that happens at the end of these books, it is the in between where we have a concept of the ‘new heavens and the new earth’ but it isn’t here, and we are not sure that it can ever be here, short of Christ’s return.

I think it is appropriate to shelter children a while (these are not appropriate books for young children). But part of the negatives that I see of sheltering children is that the adults have forgotten what Katniss and the others know at the end of these books. The world can not be completely tamed. Our children will suffer evil, and cause it. Christians that forget that, forget a significant message of scripture.

The Hunger Games story line is not some hidden Christian message.  But as with most art, the message is more than just the words on the page.

Purchase Links: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle Edition (Borrow Free With Amazon Prime), Audiobook.  Pricing note: The Kindle Edition has been $5.00 for over a year.  I am somewhat surprised that there has not been a new movie edition released yet.  But new copies of the Kindle Edition are not lendable (as of a couple weeks ago).  They are by far the most borrowed books on Amazon.  Books 2 and 3 are still lendable, so you can borrow them at or other kindle borrowing sites.  If you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow Hunger Games for free for kindle.

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