An admittedly premature review: 'The Hunger Games'

“Have you read The Hunger Games,” she asked.

“No,” was my reply. I could tell she was disappointed. I picked it up from the Lee Road Library shortly thereafter. In the last chapter I read, the protagonist (Katniss) had scaled a tree in order to escape a group of teenagers who were out to kill her. To kill her. As I walked my dog this morning around Doan Creek I paused and looked up at the autumn trees. Could I scale that tree? Where would I rope myself in for the night like she did in the book – hoping for a few hours of rest before running again from the killing mob. Even when I was 16 I don’t know if I could be scaling any tree high enough to avoid such danger.

I’ve been avoiding reading The Hunger Games for years it seems. I even asked a shop owner and her colleague of a local book store, "Have you read The Hunger Games?" They had not. I first saw the book at the SCBWI national conference almost two years ago in New York City and it was hot even then. As a children’s book author and filmmaker I’ve known for awhile that I should read it. It’s the next Harry Potter with a three-picture deal in the works.

I have to tell you I’m only a little more than half way through it and most likely I should wait until I’m done before writing my thoughts on it. But, I’m not. My feelings for this book have not changed since I began reading and overall I can't predict that they ever will change. I am appalled that today we are allowing our kids to read books that deal with killing each other. Sixteen-year-olds killing each other. Even to have those words in the same sentence makes me sick.

Even if the book is well written…

Even if the protagonist feels appalled as well at her predicament…

Even if the book has a three-picture deal…

Even if is a best seller…

Even if… I could go on and on. 

I believe what I am more horrified with is the idea that today, in our stories and in the films that are being written, it’s the children who are fighting the battles for the adults. And in the case of this book, it’s the battle for life and death. 

When did our children have to take on this huge responsibility? Why are we writing stories that even ask them to? We have to let our children be children – let them discover the joy of life. Why demand of them that they have to make up for the weakness of all those around them? Of the adults around them?

I will finish reading The Hunger Games and I will try and have an open mind. But I will not buy that book ever, I will not give my money to a publisher that would actively push a book in which my child would read about killing another person. I can’t do it even if it’s packaged in awards and glossy three-picture deals. But, I encourage you to read it for a moment and see what you think. Join the discussion. A book that has grossed so many millions of dollars and is about our children killing each other is a crazy thing.

Read it before your son or daughter does, and try and help them understand what life is all about. 

PS: I finished the book and still stand by my initial thoughts. 

Tiffany Laufer

Tiffay Laufer is a filmmaker and children's book author and occasional gardener. Check out her site at www.tiffanylaufer.com

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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 9:45 AM, 11.14.2011