So this past weekend I read ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins. Mostly out of curiosity resulting from the frenzy of interest teens I know have about the upcoming movie. Am I so out of it I no longer know about hit young adult books until the movies come out? Twilight was totally off my radar until the film came out, and now the same is true of this series.
Here’s the deal. The story is fast paced, completely pulled me in, made it incredibly hard to put my phone down (yup, read the ebook), and had some great characters in it. Basically, it was Mad Max’s Thunderdome, but with kids. Post apocalyptic future, cruel and disturbing government, and an arena where 24 adolescents fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses. Which for me made the book feel a lot more adult than young adult.
What makes me incredibly uncomfortable is the shift in content that books for kids features. When I was an adolescent, I read a TON of books – I typically averaged one or two a week. Seriously. I don’t remember ever reading anything with the violent content kids’ books feature today – I was stunned when kids started getting killed in the Harry Potter series. Profanity, violence, kids being murdered – it shocked me. Then the Twilight series. Definitely amped up the adult content for a series aimed at young teens. But both of those pale in comparison to a story that features 24 kids between the ages of 12 and 18 being thrown into an arena and graphically murdering each other with a wide range of weapons.
So here’s where I’m torn. I enjoyed the book. In fact, since last weekend I’ve already finished the second book in the series, ‘Catching Fire.’ The part of me that has enjoyed stories like ‘Mad Max’ and ‘The Book of Eli’ loved them both. But those stories, while violent and graphic, were aimed directly at an adult audience. It’s just strange to me how stories have changed so dramatically in content since I was a teen, and that troubles me.