This is because I can’t admit, “Oh, the young adult trilogy, The Hunger Games” without feeling like I have to defend myself. When I do concede, I go on a diatribe about how not all culture is high culture and how I’m interested in the diversity of popular media, stopping just short of yelling, “Keep your laws off my body!”
It took ten straight hours in the 100-degree Georgia sun for me to confess to a co-worker that I had read Twilight last year. I still have some shame about that series, but not about Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. I am an educated, well-read woman, and I have to admit that I like young-adult post-apocalyptic science fiction. I know others like me and this is why I don’t think we should have to say, “Obviously I’m re-reading Jane Eyre to get ready for the 40th movie version.”
Relax! I love Jane Eyre, but I want to wear that Mockingjay pin proudly as well. Here are five reasons I don’t think any of us should be ashamed to like The Hunger Games.
1. Girls Kicking Ass
Not since Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged has one woman fought government control and the suppression of free will in a dystopian America the way that Katniss does in these books. But when there is no utopia to retreat to, Katniss is forced to face the bleakness and stand up for something. So she hunts, kicks ass, and takes down a nation. She is scrappy!
2. The War in Our World is Not on Your Virginity
Guess what, kids? We are at war, in several countries. This book deals with the repercussions of conflict, PTSD, and death. Explicitly these themes might be a little heavy for some kids (and adults), but The Hunger Games provides a filter through which to understand the issues of today (like all good sci-fi). Whether or not to sleep with a moody, undead boyfriend is an important decision for some, but understanding one’s role in the politics of the world is valuable for all.
3. Love, Real Messy Love
The truth is: love is complicated. Not to be your grandmother’s girlfriend, but with movies and TV today, you’d think love is all rose ceremonies and happily ever after. Not only offering a hot romantic triangle, these books touch on the love of family, friends, country, and oneself. Difficult and complicated? Yes. Worth living your life for? Most certainly.
4. It Doesn’t Assume You Are Stupid
You and I both know Shirley Jackon’s The Lottery and the significance of the thirteen colonies. We don’t have to be told. It has been a while since I’ve read or seen anything fun that doesn’t tell me what it is going to say, say it, then tell me what it said. I found it refreshing to have my brain work a little to read between the lines. I’m not saying this is a perfectly written series, but it won’t totally insult you either.
5. It is FUN!
You’ll come for the kids fighting each other until the death in an arena, but you’ll stay for the rebel uprising, fashion, romance, and because you have to know how it ends. I cried while reading the first book, twice, IN PUBLIC, and felt no shame because I was so consumed. When I was done, I didn’t know whether to join the army or a militia or to start burning mattresses in the street.