Dystopian and Repetitive with a Disappointing Ending

I just finished the “The Hunger Games” trilogy, a young-adult adventure science fiction series by Suzanne Collins, where she continues her exploration of the effects of war and violence on those coming of age.

It left me unsettled, even a little alarmed, about exactly what her messages are for young adults, particularly as the movie is about to be released.  The trilogy is a wasteland of dystopian, unrelenting violence in a future post-apocalyptic world where children are trained to murder each other in the arena.

Appropriate for Younger Kids?

With all the hype for the pending movie release, younger kids are also wanting to read the trilogy. For an informative and balanced view, check out this article by Kristin Rushowy of The Hamilton Spectator.  She interviews a children’s book and media studies professor and a film professor at the University of Toronto, as well as a number of Teacher-Librarians who are doing their best to deal with the demands for the trilogy.

What I learned from Rushowy’s article:

  • it is a mature read, appropriate for advanced Grade 6 readers, and Grade 7 and up students who are able to cope well with some of the darker themes
  • it’s galvanizing kids to read, including boys because it’s action-packed and not sappy
  • parents may want to intervene if a junior child is reading the book.

Some Food for Thought

Annie Murphy Paul details in her article Your Brain on Fiction how ” … brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories … stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.”

Oh, and about the ending

All that said, I think even the author got bored with her own reiterations of gratuitous and gruesome attacks on youth and made a last ditch effort to do the happily ever after ending … trite and inappropriate.

If you are going to write about unrelenting violence and war and the impact it has on youth, then there is no place for a happy ending, even a tentative one.  Collins should have had the guts to see it through to the end!