Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Hunger Games: a Junior Tea Party Training Manual?

 

America, the near future. So vast and controlling and all-powerful has grown the DC political machine that the country at large is now just a collection of vassal states whose cowed, servile populations exist solely to provide goods and services to the grotesque sybarite class in the Capitol. In this future, the free market has been all but abolished – which is why, of course, starvation is rife and shortages are endemic. Only on the black market does free trade still survive. It’s illegal but it’s the only place where you can haggle for sufficient food – mostly game poached at great personal risk – to keep your family alive.

No, not my prediction of what happens when Obama wins his second term, but the background to the book which even if you haven’t read your kids almost certainly will have: The Hunger Games.

I read it myself to gain an insight into the kind of weird stuff that goes on these days in my kids’ brains. (I did try asking: doesn’t work. Past about 11 they don’t tell you anything. Especially not the male of the species). Here’s what I found out. First the bad news: The Hunger Games is quite incredibly violent – 24 kids in a giant arena killing one another; only one gets out alive. (You think in the early stages of the book it’s not going to happen. But it does. And the gore is plentiful).

Now the good news. Well, good news in my book, anyway. The Hunger Games is probably the best education any child can get into the horrors of Big Government and the tyranny and injustice of statism. It’s impossible to read this book and not come away thinking like a Tea Partier.

Today’s generation may be lost. But I see hope for the future!

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  1. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On a scale of 1-10 where 1is Sexy Teen Vampire Trash Novel and 10 is Harry Potter how fun is the book to read for an adult?

    Also I know they are making this into a movie. I’m sure they will make the villain a large corporation that controls the whole thing. 

    • #1
    • March 15, 2012, at 9:49 AM PDT
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  2. oddhan Inactive
    oddhan Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It’s actually set a couple of hundred years after some kind of holocaust which is occurs some indefinite time after today. Niggling point. 

    From what I gathered, there is a significant amount of family orientation, and distrust of authority presented in the books. Does it really explore statism as opposed to tyranny, though? 

    • #2
    • March 15, 2012, at 9:58 AM PDT
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  3. Fr. Stuart Crevcoure Inactive

    I read the trilogy recently and enjoyed it. It’s not brilliant in terms of literary quality, but contains some interesting ideas. I’d agree heartily that it is a scathing indictment of statism and centrally planned economies (as well as a pointed jab at our celebrity and reality-TV-driven culture).

    Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the final book is that the nation is about to exchange one version of statism for another. A fascinating twist prevents this from occurring, but I won’t give it away. Suffice it to say that all live freely and in the pursuit of happiness ever after.

    • #3
    • March 15, 2012, at 9:58 AM PDT
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  4. James Delingpole Contributor
    James Delingpole

    @Fr. Stuart Crevcoure. I couldn’t finish the third book. The writing deteriorates so markedly after Book One (and even that’s not exactly literature) and the girl becomes so infuriatingly mopey. Glad there was interesting twist.

    • #4
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:10 AM PDT
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  5. FeliciaB Inactive

    Fr. Stuart Crevcoure is right. The book series is most excellent at pointing out the tyranny of statism. I jumped on the book series right after the first one came out and rode the “impatient waiting, oh! I got it! man, it’s over” ride. Yes, I’m still a pre-teen in a grown-up’s body. No, the writing is not Pulizter Prize winning. However, it is moneymaking. Way to go, Suzanne Collins!

    • #5
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:15 AM PDT
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  6. James Delingpole Contributor
    James Delingpole

    @valiuth on a scale of one to ten the first book is crack cocaine: seriously addictive, unputdownable. My kids devoured it in about 24 hours. As did I.

    The next books are like watching paint dry, though.

    • #6
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:19 AM PDT
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  7. :thinking: no superfluity of n… Member
    :thinking: no superfluity of n… Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I remember when this was called “Battle Royale,” and I didn’t like it even then.

    • #7
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:20 AM PDT
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  8. radicalbiochemist Inactive
    James Delingpole: I couldn’t finish the third book. The writing deteriorates so markedly after Book One (and even that’s not exactly literature) and the girl becomes so infuriatingly mopey. Glad there was interesting twist. · 18 minutes ago

    My thoughts exactly. However, I was compelled to complete the audio version of the trilogy. My wife and I took the family by car over a large part of the US over the holidays and got the books on CD to pass the time. Enjoyed the first one very much. The trip home was spent inside the mind of a love-confused 17-year old girl. The horror.

    • #8
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:45 AM PDT
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  9. It's A Gas Member

    I kept thinking of the parallels with North Korea when I read the series. The Capitol serves as Pyongyang with the various other states in the book standing in as the NK peasant gulags. All of their efforts are confiscated to serve The Capitol elites. Not sure if that was her intention, but watch any documentary on life in the Juche paradise and you’ll see it.

    • #9
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:48 AM PDT
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  10. Aloha Johnny Member
    Aloha Johnny Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I am on book three now – after my 12 year old son devoured the books. (Though he preferred the Homelander series by our own Andrew Klavan).

    The first is the best and three does get very whiny. So I will have to see if the twist is worth it.

    And yes it does and a freedom theme – which my son picked up on. So maybe there is hope….

    • #10
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:54 AM PDT
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  11. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    James Delingpole: @valiuth on a scale of one to ten the first book is crack cocaine: seriously addictive, unputdownable. My kids devoured it in about 24 hours. As did I.

    The next books are like watching paint dry, though. · 30 minutes ago

    Agreed; on Valiuth’s scale, Harry Potter is a 4 and Hunger Games book #1 is a 9.

    • #11
    • March 15, 2012, at 10:54 AM PDT
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  12. KC Mulville Inactive

    I’m actually reading it now. I catch a few chapters while I’m on the train commuting to/from work.

    It probably caught me at a bad time. I’ve grown increasingly annoyed at the “Survivor” influence in entertainment. Every other show is a staged death match. The Hunger Games strikes me as just the latest wave of “death-match” entertainment. Gladiator games in different form.

    It’s easy to miss the difference between competition and conflict; between sports and drama. I love sports, but only while the game lasts. It’s interest vanishes the moment it’s over.

    But when I read, I want the conflict to say something enduring. (Or try to.) Drama shouldn’t be ephemeral. When you read a drama, you should be able to read that same drama later … because while the story’s conflict hasn’t changed, you have (grown older, wiser). A 45 year old reading Hamlet will internally resolve the conflicts differently than when he was 22. Drama endures.

    These competitions aren’t drama … the next American Idol … next Iron Chef … next Bachelor … and so on.

    The next GOP candidate. But I digress …

    • #12
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:02 AM PDT
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  13. Scott Stillwater Inactive

    I took a different view of the trilogy. The third book was particularly difficult to get through. I found the writing to have deteriorated quite rapidly from the first two. I personally found the themes typical of fascist depictions and directed at the usual targets (c.f., Liberal Fascism).

    There is a vomit-inducing line in the third book referencing the original representative government from years gone by: “Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet” (p. 84 — thank you, Amazon LookInside). I also found a theme of anti-revolution — that government overflow and/or fighting for freedom is never worth it.

    I have many other books for my children to read before I recommend the Hunger Games.

    • #13
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:02 AM PDT
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  14. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    TheRoyalFamily: I remember when this was called “Battle Royale,” and I didn’t like it even then. · 35 minutes ago

    You didn’t like “Battle Royale” but it was so ridiculous and Japanese..

    Fredösphere
    James Delingpole: @valiuth on a scale of one to ten the first book is crack cocaine: seriously addictive, unputdownable. My kids devoured it in about 24 hours. As did I.

    The next books are like watching paint dry, though. · 30 minutes ago

    Agreed; on Valiuth’s scale, Harry Potter is a 4 and Hunger Games book #1 is a 9. · 1 minute ago

    Only a 4 for Harry Potter? Clearly you did not stand in line to get the books. After the 3rd Harry potter I read them all in just a few sleepless days. Especially 4 and 5. 

    • #14
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:03 AM PDT
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  15. Thomas Culp Inactive

    I finished the trilogy a few days ago at the suggestion of my wife as we’re supposed to see the movie on her birthday. I completely agree with James on book 3. Absolutely terrible. I thought books 1 and 2 were quite good. 

    Surprisingly there’s only a passing mention that our ancestors sort of destroyed the Earth, leading to the rise of the new civilization. I think climate change is mentioned once perhaps as part of the backstory. Again, very inconsequential.

    I will disagree that the book is about statism. I’d say (and maybe this is more of a semantic argument) it’s much more about totalitarianism. To call The Capitol statist is a big understatement in my opinion. 

    • #15
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:05 AM PDT
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  16. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My big complaint with these Battle Royale / Running Man / Hunger Games stories (see Hunting: The Most Dangerous Game and Blood Sport at tvtropes.org) is that they so frequently posit a totalitarian society where the deadly combat is an entertainment intended to pacify the subjugated masses. I can’t think of anything short of droit du seigneur that would enrage the masses more.

    Those examples from history of this kind of dynamic (e.g., the Coliseum) always involve deaths of criminals, slaves, or prisoners of war, for the entertainment of their superiors. The viewers must believe “that could never be me” or it would never work.

    Maybe I’m thinking too hard. But, as it is, this problem gives Hunger Games et al. a porny feel to me.

    • #16
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:17 AM PDT
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  17. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Valiuth

    Only a 4 for Harry Potter? Clearly you did not stand in line to get the books. After the 3rd Harry potter I read them all in just a few sleepless days. Especially 4 and 5. · 17 minutes ago

    A 4 for the first book, which gave me little reason to continue the series–so I didn’t. I’ll admit I liked the movies quite a bit, and I watched them all. YMMV.

    • #17
    • March 15, 2012, at 11:21 AM PDT
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  18. Fr. Stuart Crevcoure Inactive

    I’ll concur on the writing deteriorating drastically after Book 1, and I wouldn’t score Book 1 very high at the outset. I’m an OCD reader, and it requires a tremendous effort of will to read only one of a series, or to leave a book unfinished. I was originally put on to the series by one of my college students who suggested it as a quick, entertaining read that dealt with some serious societal issues. The heroine is an entirely unsympathetic character and poorly written. My guess is that Suzanne Collins, who has stated that one of the themes she wished to explore was the effects of violence upon children and youth, deliberately made her protagonist malleable and amorphous. Such a characterization doesn’t exactly inspire, though, especially when the supporting cast shows a lot more grit and gumption. In the end, I’m not sure the heroine isn’t a bit more Occupy Wall Street than Tea Party.

    • #18
    • March 16, 2012, at 1:16 AM PDT
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  19. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member
    Fr. Stuart Crevcoure: The heroine is an entirely unsympathetic character and poorly written. My guess is that Suzanne Collins, who has stated that one of the themes she wished to explore was the effects of violence upon children and youth, deliberately made her protagonist malleable and amorphous. Such a characterization doesn’t exactly inspire, though, especially when the supporting cast shows a lot more grit and gumption. In the end, I’m not sure the heroine isn’t a bit more Occupy Wall Street than Tea Party. · 38 minutes ago

    Edited 33 minutes ago

    Really???? I remember her as resourceful and not prone to gratuitous violence. In fact, I don’t remember her killing at all. Her main failing is in stringing along the guy in love with her, but that was a matter of survival.

    • #19
    • March 16, 2012, at 1:58 AM PDT
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  20. robberberen Inactive

    James,

    I am totally confident that Hollywood will find a way to make the book about class struggles, rather than state power. The rich holding down everyone else, etc. Count on it.

    I just finished the first book yesterday, and here’s how I think they’ll do it: (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT)

    They will focus on the fact that poor people can get bigger food rations in exchange for a higher likelihood that they’ll be selected as a tribute in the Hunger Games. This will be Hollywood’s angle — the rich don’t really have to worry about much, while the poor are forced to die as entertainment.

    The book is 99% about state oppression and 1% about class differences. Hollywood will invert that breakdown. It’s all they know.

    • #20
    • March 16, 2012, at 2:09 AM PDT
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  21. Stephen Dawson Inactive

    Hey, if one thing is certain about Hollywood, it is that it is inconsistent. I have (with considerable trepidation) high hopes for this.

    Reason 1: the director is co-screenwriter is Gary Ross: previous two outings, Seabiscuit and Pleasantville.

    Reason 2: the other co-writer (with the novellist) is Billy Ray, who wrote and directed the wonderful Shattered Glass.

    Let’s just have some hope, although withholding expectations would be wise.

    • #21
    • March 16, 2012, at 3:29 AM PDT
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  22. RobininIthaca Inactive

    The trilogy led to some very interesting discussions with the teenagers we know and love. Girls: “How can Katniss even consider not loving Peeta?”Boys: “What is with these characters putting up with that c–p from the Capitol”?Suzanne Collins is very clever. She essentially wrote her own screenplays – not much needed to be changed to make them work as films. The last book just seemed rushed. Losing the structure of “the Game” and trying to neatly tie everything up made the whole thing pretty insufferable. One of my son’s friends told me that he refuses to see the films because he has a vivid picture in his head of the characters and the backdrop that he doesn’t want spoiled by someone else’s vision. I immediately thought of Jane Austen casting and how bothersome it is to have an actor’s face in mind when reading one of her novels.

    • #22
    • March 16, 2012, at 6:48 AM PDT
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  23. Thomas Culp Inactive
    Blake: James…

    I just finished the first book yesterday, and here’s how I think they’ll do it: (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT)

    They will focus on the fact that poor people can get bigger food rations in exchange for a higher likelihood that they’ll be selected as a tribute in the Hunger Games. This will be Hollywood’s angle — the rich don’t really have to worry about much, while the poor are forced to die as entertainment.

    That point is made within the first couple chapters of book 1. That essentially tesserae is a tool of the Capitol to keep the people divided against each other in sub-classes. The characters realize this.

    They (Hollywood) would need to go completely counter of arguments made directly by the characters to pull off some sort of OWS-infused story line. Alas, you’re probably right…they will try. :o)

    • #23
    • March 16, 2012, at 9:06 AM PDT
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  24. John Marzan Inactive

    If you want a preview of Hunger Games the movie, watch the japanese version first.

    • #24
    • March 16, 2012, at 10:27 AM PDT
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  25. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Fredösphere
    Valiuth

    Only a 4 for Harry Potter? Clearly you did not stand in line to get the books. After the 3rd Harry potter I read them all in just a few sleepless days. Especially 4 and 5. · 17 minutes ago

    A 4 for the first book, which gave me little reason to continue the series–so I didn’t. I’ll admit I liked the movies quite a bit, and I watched them all. YMMV.

    That’s your mistake. You have to start #2. I also got stuck after #1, but when my daughter picked up #2, so did I, and the remainder are addictive.

    • #25
    • March 16, 2012, at 12:43 PM PDT
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  26. Profile Photo Member

    I, too have read the books after my daughter was assigned them in school; she was 14 at the time.I wish Collins had tried to say more about why the oppression was wrong, and why constitutional government under the rule of law protects, liberates people instead of enslaving them, etc. Instead, it deteriorated into a retelling of the story of Rome, in many ways. I will say that the realities of politics were portrayed in the plots and intrigues amongst the rebel leadership.It’s good food for discussion, especially about the horrifying consequences that come from the ends-justifies-the-means kinds of thinking which the present US executive displays with appalling frequency.

    • #26
    • March 17, 2012, at 8:59 AM PDT
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