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A Parent's Perspective on The Hunger Games Trilogy

By Barb Kubiak

Awesome custom THG Books by Juniper Designs
Most parents would cringe - a book about kids killings kids?  Who would write something like that?  I’ll tell you who.  An author I greatly respect.  She is a master at her craft. One who has penned a story that will draw you in from the first few pages and shine a light on the parallels of her dystopian world to the one in which we currently live.  And amazingly, it is done with such talent, that not only do young adult readers identify with it, but parents see the glaring similarities as well. 
The Hunger Games recommendation came from my oldest son when school strongly pushed extra time for reading. Fortunately, this series pulled him in.  It is a great book for boys, especially at an age when getting them to read, is a challenge.  In turn, I continued to read the books aloud a chapter at a time, with my other two kids.  And I admit, I went ahead at the very end of Catching Fire - the suspense was killing me! 
As a parent reading these books, I wonder different things.  How on Earth would I handle not only my 12-year-old being reaped, but what did I do as a parent to make my older daughter then volunteer in her place?  Did I do a good job as a parent or am I being punished?  This is a lose-lose situation.  How do you go on?  How do you say good-bye knowing there is a great chance she will not return? Required to watch?  How can you do that?  What parent wants to watch their child suffer or worse, perish?  Every death in the games is a better chance for your child to return.  Is it selfish that you are happy others are dead?  How do you celebrate knowing so many others have died for them to win?  These questions continue throughout the trilogy.  How?  What?  Why?
Then there’s the government.  How did this happen?  Who allowed it to happen?  And is it really that farfetched?  Perhaps the Hunger Games themselves might be.  But as a parent immersed in the education field, I see lots of things changing for our youth in schools.  It worries me.  I wonder what kind of adults we are producing.  Is there enough civics education?  Do our kids know history and the atrocities we have witnessed?  If we continue as we are, is a dystopian type world what we may find in our future?  We are living in a society where the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.  There are people living in the streets while others have so much they don’t know what to do with it.  We have people creating policies and laws who are so out of touch with the people they are making them for.  Not unlike the Capitol.  Katniss and Peeta witness this themselves on their ride to the Capitol.   Effie shows how out of touch she is by focusing on the manners they possess - not even realizing they are near starving or that the amount and type of food will be overwhelming to them.   And it’s not her fault; it’s simply all she knows.  She is the epitome of classic, ignorant bliss.  We also read about the activity in the Capitol that we see.  The citizens of the Capitol are betting on the tributes, the commotion going on in the streets the night before the games begin, Caesar Flickerman and the outrageous clothes. Its reality TV gone mad! The clear liquid that allows you to keep eating despite some of the surrounding districts having barely enough food.   It makes you question what you think you know about government and the world we live in.

 It’s been 5 years since I read the books.  I take any opportunity I can to talk about them.  I got stopped in the grocery store last week with “I was thinking about you the other day. I started reading The Hunger Games.  And I’m so tired because I couldn’t put it down!”  I’m proud of that.  I am ok with having my name associated with this trilogy.  It has been thought provoking for my family and me.  It connected us and still does.  Almost daily a quote comes up that is from the books or movies - no matter how trivial.  We laugh, we debate and discuss.  I think it is amazing that Suzanne Collins has written a series that has brought so many fans together.
It’s political in the end.  I think adolescent girls enjoy the love triangle.  As a parent- it didn’t matter all that much to me.  (I‘ll admit I really wanted Katniss to be with Gale-he supported her until the end.  But I understand why it had to be Peeta.) The master writing that Collins exhibits is unmatched in any other series.  I read other YA series.  Great stories but the writing is not the same.   THG writing is top notch.  This is evidenced in the history, the mythology, the plant references.  They all make up the details that set the trilogy apart.  It educates while entertaining.  I truly believe this trilogy was written on different levels - one for adolescents and one for adults.  The themes examined go much deeper than a “love triangle” and the “kid killing kids” tag.   Anyone who can move beyond that will surely come to realize this is a story about much more.
***I do have to acknowledge James Newton Howard’s original scores for the franchise.  What an amazing gift they have been for the fans.  They have really had an impact on me as my kids all play string instruments.  If only I could find the right sheet music and persuade the orchestra teachers to teach them!
You can find the beautiful custom Hunger Games Trilogy books in the post at Juniper Books. 


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