'The Hunger Games': your kids are angrier than you think - Macleans.ca

‘The Hunger Games’: your kids are angrier than you think

A frightening story about kids killing other kids for the amusement of adults has become a blockbuster. Here’s why.

Dystopia now

Lionsgate/The Kobal Collection

Imagine a life where possibilities are opening at a speed that veers unpredictably between exhilarating and terrifying. The familiar, precisely because it’s familiar and safe, still tugs at you, but even so, you want out because your old life constricts as much as it comforts. Besides, your social milieu, which often feels like an endless struggle to achieve, or resist being slotted into some arbitrary niche—pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, athlete, klutz—is changing fast. You feel driven—by inner need and outside pressure—to make choices. Meanwhile, the manipulative, often harsh, powers that be, who created the larger world they’re busy shoving you into, have clearly not done a bang-up job of it, either in their personal lives or as part of society. And they want you to get out there and fix their mistakes—just at a moment when worry over the imminent demise of their entire socio-economic structure is never far from the surface. It can be cruel and scary out there. Dystopian, even.

Chances are, anyone not imagining this life, but actually living it, is a teenager. And living it in an era of economic uncertainty, conspiracy theories and fear of environmental collapse. Western civilization used to produce literary utopias, but in the past century of world wars, financial panics, murderous totalitarian regimes and nuclear threat, dystopias have outnumbered sunny projections by several orders of magnitude. Pessimistic depictions of the future are now everywhere in popular culture. Teens and teen books are not immune to larger trends in society.

Whether any given North American teen is familiar with the entire library of novels casting adolescent emotions and life against some rather disturbing backgrounds, he or she—particularly she—is certainly aware of The Hunger Games. The film version of the pop culture phenomenon, as metaphor-rich a teen dystopia as could be—high school-age kids put in an arena to literally kill each other for the amusement of grown-ups—set a record for a non-sequel on its March 23 opening day with $68.25 million in ticket sales. That was the fifth-best all-time opening day; three days later, after sales reached $155 million, the movie had the third-best opening weekend ever, and again, the non-sequel record. With advance sales also setting records, many screenings are fully booked for days to come.

Aided by its strong male draw—audiences so far have been 40 per cent men, compared to the Twilight series’s 20 per cent—The Hunger Games and its coming sequels seem likely to eclipse the total take of the blockbuster vampire-romance movies. Giant photos of Jennifer Lawrence, who plays heroine Katniss Everdeen, usually with bow and arrow in hand, are plastered everywhere. There’s a Hunger Games board game, in which the action is not set during the actual death match—unlike video game makers, all-ages board game manufacturers shrink from scenarios which require players to slaughter their opponents—but during pre-games training. Other franchise tie-ins include a $14.95 light bulb featuring a red mockingjay (a hybrid creature crucial to The Hunger Games storyline), knee socks, ear buds, a Barbie doll, a replica bow, and even girls’ underwear that salute the baker’s son who is one of Katniss’s suitors: “Peeta: so sensitive . . . with great buns.”

The anticipation of success pumped up the fortunes of Lionsgate, the Vancouver-founded entertainment company that made the film, even before it opened. Its stock price hit a 52-week high last week, closing at $14.55 a share, up 90 per cent for the year. (That’s allowed several news outlets to express their schadenfreude over American financier Carl Icahn, who dumped his one-third stake in Lionsgate—some 44 million shares—for $7 each in August, a $300-million haircut compared to current valuation.) The studio is not the only entity cashing in. The state tourism agency in North Carolina, which provided the film’s locations, is offering special hotel packages, as well as organizing re-enactments of key scenes and survival skills courses. As happened in the town of Forks, Wash., the setting for Twilight, fans are arriving in enthusiastic packs, delighting local merchants.

Those who don’t stand to make money are somewhat less happy. The owner of Henry River Mill Village, which served as Katniss’s Appalachian home, sounded as exasperated as Jean-François L’Huilier, the mayor of Rennes-le-Château in France did in 2004, when he felt forced to transfer the remains of Abbé Bérenger Saunière (1852-1917) into a fan-proof concrete grave after Da Vinci Code devotees descended upon the Pyrenean hamlet of 150 souls. “The tourists come here and stomp all over the place with no respect for anything or anyone,” complained L’Huilier. “They set off explosions and climb over the cemetery wall to dig up the dead. That’s why I had to exhume the corpse.” Wade Shepherd, 83, the North Carolina village owner, hasn’t had to cope with any explosions (yet), but the fans are coming already. “Day and night, they’re driving through, taking pictures, getting out and walking. I’m just bombarded with people.”

As was the case with Twilight and The Da Vinci Code, The Hunger Games frenzy began with a book. Suzanne Collins’s 2008 novel and its two sequels, Catching Fire (2009) and Mockingjay (2010) sold very well before the movie was announced. By late 2010 there were almost three million copies in print. Now there are 10 times as many, in 26 languages in 38 countries, including two million in Canada. And the novels have been equally strong in e-book format—Collins was the first young adult genre author (and 6th author overall) to join Amazon’s “Kindle Million Club,” meaning she had sold over a million Kindle versions. Earlier this month she shot to the top of the list as Kindle’s bestselling author ever.

Her success is hardly surprising. There can scarcely be anyone left in North America who doesn’t know the basic outline of The Hunger Games. Katniss, 16, a coal miner’s daughter whose father dies in a mine explosion before the story opens, lives in the poorest part of the poorest district (No. 12) of near-future Panem, a North American authoritarian state that rose from the ashes of ecological catastrophe—worsening climate, rising sea levels and resource wars. The residents of the ruling Capitol live in high-tech splendour, governing with an iron fist the 12 outlying districts. There were once 13 districts, but in the course of putting down a massive rebellion two generations before, the Capitol obliterated No. 13.

Now, as part of the ongoing price the lords of Panem exact from their surviving subjects, the better to keep them in a state of terror and abject submission, each district annually sends a male child and a female child, aged 12-18, to fight in the Hunger Games until only one remains alive. Every moment of the games, from the actual killings to individual moments of despair, is televised. Viewing is compulsory in the districts and hugely popular in the Capitol, where the pampered inhabitants lay bets on the winner and often intervene by sponsoring the more appealing among the so-called tributes—that is, by providing timely gifts of food, weapons or medicine that can make the difference between life and death. That makes strategy as important as brute force or killing skills, and a young girl can win the games over older and stronger males.

Katniss is a highly compartmentalized character, focused on providing for her family, particularly her 12-year-old sister Primrose, after her father dies and her mother becomes paralyzed with grief. Her relentless drive to protect her sister is why Katniss takes up illegal hunting, becoming a skilled archer in the process, and why, unlike her male poaching companion, 18-year-old Gale, she doesn’t spend any time thinking about the political system that grinds down her and her neighbours. Or, for that matter, any time noticing Gale’s romantic interest in her. And it’s why, too, Katniss ends up in the 74th Hunger Games: after Prim is randomly chosen as District 12’s female tribute, Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. The male tribute picked is Peeta, also 16, also romantically inclined toward Katniss, who is, once again, utterly unaware of it. The two travel to the Capitol where, under the tutelage of Haymitch Abernathy, District 12’s only living previous winner, they develop a strategy—genuine on Peeta’s part, ambiguous at best on Katniss’s—of attracting sponsors by playing star-crossed young lovers.

Small wonder The Hunger Games created a stir in 2008. With a well-written and even better-paced story, a not entirely likeable but hugely compelling lead character, a dash of romance (all the more interesting for its uncertainty), and a powerful major theme that taps into our fascination—and unease—with reality TV (particularly the intimate, purportedly behind-the-scenes parts), Collins’s novel hit the zeitgeist dead on.

And then there’s the aspect of it so large that many of its cheering fans seem unable to consciously see it—the children are killing each other in a battle for survival, as savage a satire of high school and our contemporary economic distemper as can be imagined. For its teen target audience, especially girls, who live in a social milieu potentially even more vicious than that of adolescent boys, it could scarcely offer more appeal.

Parents, though, are certainly conscious of the child-on-child violence, and for every individual who posts that it’s never too soon for the youngsters to learn it’s a Darwinian world out there—as if middle school hadn’t already taught them that—or that “the game is rigged,” as one jaundiced mother commented, many more are worried. Violence in movies that draw kids is always a concern, but killing of teens by other teens has led to media appearances by child psychologists discussing the potential effect on younger viewers and cultural critics weighing in more generally. YA novelist Kenneth Oppel, given op-ed space in the Globe and Mail, assumes Collins is crassly exploiting our culture’s delight in violence as entertainment, before concluding that modern society is so twisted that volunteers would line up for a real Hunger Games, so long as the winner was guaranteed “the latest iPhone and a lifetime unlimited data plan”—a statement that exceeds the cynicism he ascribes to Collins. At least her characters are fighting for their lives.

And The Hunger Games is hardly alone on the shelves of children’s bookstores, which are packed with teen novels of wildly divergent plots but eerily similar themes. Young adult dystopia, broadly defined—tales for teens about survival in a world of cruel or helpless adults, where everything is falling apart and the competition for resources or safety can include turning on one another—is a literary genre whose time has come.

“I look up at the wall where we post our YA bestsellers,” says Phyllis Simon, co-owner of Vancouver’s Kidsbooks, “and I can see that the top five or six are dystopias.” Whether they are the classic form, featuring harshly repressive societies, or post-apocalyptic scenes of chaos—both neatly mirror the see-saw nature of teenage life—they almost all have the same root cause as The Hunger Games: climatic catastrophe. “There’s no fuel, there’s no water,” Simon notes. Or, sometimes, there’s too much. In Scottish writer Julie Bertagna’s Exodus, first published in 2002 before the dystopia wave gathered force, and re-issued in February, it is 2099 and the world is drowning. As the polar ice melts and the seas rise, 15-year-old Mara and her family have to flee their fast-disappearing island for a city built on the drowned ruins of Glasgow. But there is no true asylum in a high-tech city that rules with primitive force, and Mara has to find her people a new home.

In The Way We Fall, published in January, Toronto writer Megan Crewe moves her fast-paced story, set in an island community off Nova Scotia, from the here and now through a near-future apocalypse to the brink of a dystopia, all thanks to a killer virus. Crewe doesn’t explain where the disease comes from, but lethal viruses, which terrify some people more than anything else—including Crewe, who began her novel “after a zombie virus story gave me a nightmare”—are almost never natural in origin. They are either the work of demented governments and hubristic scientists, or, in our era of migrating viruses, a subset of climate change apocalypses.

In these deep backgrounds, teen dystopias are in tune with their adult counterparts, whose worries have changed over time. Brave New World (1932) expressed author Aldous Huxley’s contempt for a consumer society drugging itself into oblivion; William Golding’s Lord of The Flies (1954), now taught to teens, was actually a postwar Freudian allegory for adults about the porous line between civilization and savagery; George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and a host of others, like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) warned of a totalitarian future; while On The Beach, Neville Shute’s post-nuclear-war bestseller of 1957, captures the ultimate fear of the Cold War generation.

Lately, though, the world’s nuclear terror has either been forgotten or become too familiar to trouble us anymore. It’s now all climate change in adult fiction too, as in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. In that 2003 book, her second dystopian novel (she also supplied the introduction to a 75th anniversary edition of Brave New World), Atwood fit in global warming, reckless science and a fatal virus. And it is adults, after all, who write the teen books, points out Canadian Moira Young, author of one of this season’s hottest titles, Blood Red Road, about a teen girl who leaves her dust bowl home in search of her kidnapped twin brother. Today’s YA dystopias are the work of adults “worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we’re leaving the young.”

And they’re happy to embrace it, laughs Simon. “There’s a dark side to teens, you know. They love melodrama, they love big emotion—and what’s bigger than the whole world going to hell because the adults have screwed up?” Teen literature, like teen lives, is a matter of firsts—“first love, first rebellion, first everything,” says Melissa Bourdon-King, general manager of Mabel’s Fables bookstore in Toronto. Nor do adolescents realize they are reprising the emotions, if not the circumstances, of their parents. “I was reading The Day of the Triffids and Fahrenheit 451 in the 1960s when Detroit was burning,” adds Mabel’s owner Eleanor LeFave. “Do you think,” she asks rhetorically, “that a renewed interest in dystopias might reflect the times?”

Still, the best, and the bestselling, of them do more than echo the headlines. As Megan Crewe points out: “The successful stories all marry exciting and frightening plot lines with more ordinary concerns that matter emotionally to teens—and their two main focuses are a love interest and what kind of person will I grow into.” Dating and death, to exaggerate only slightly. On Crewe’s plague island, her own heroine, 16-year-old Kaelyn, is already concerned about her possible grown-up self, already realizing her parents in particular and adult society in general have feet of clay, before the slow slide into anarchy and death—The Way We Fall is perfectly titled—forces everyone to make moral as well as pragmatic choices. “YA dystopias work not because teens think those actual events are going to happen—however plausible they may be—but because the real emotions they would evoke are caught. When I’m writing I try to remember how I felt as a teen. People who dismiss YA books have simply forgotten how complex they themselves were at that age.”

Death and dating is one summation of Battle Royale, the 1999 Japanese novel that is one of the grandfathers of the genre and, for many, a direct inspiration for The Hunger Games. In Koushun Takami’s story set in a near-future totalitarian Japan, the government terrorizes the population by randomly choosing a high school class, isolating the students on an island, and forcing them to kill each other until only one remains. The crucial difference between their situation and the one in The Hunger Games is that Collins’s tributes might know, among their opponents, only the other tribute from their district. Battle Royale involves a class full of teens who know each other well, with all the crushes, friendships and antagonisms that entails. If The Hunger Games is reality TV ratcheted to a madly logical end, Battle Royale is extreme high school: dating and death, indeed.

Far more in the mainstream are books like Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, the first of which created a lot of buzz at its 2005 publication. Three centuries from now, children are raised by their parents until age 12, at which point, now known as Uglies, they begin displaying the characteristics, mental and physical, that will mark them as adults; would mark them, that is, except for the operation that turns them into Pretties at age 16. The Pretties are beautiful and thoughtlessly exploit the power of their allure: “Something made you want to protect them from all danger, to make them happy,” ponders lead character Tally, 15, and impatiently awaiting her own operation. “They were so . . . pretty.” But the operation also causes brain damage—a popular touch that, since, as Simon notes, “it’s normal for teens to hate the entitled.” In a society like ours, both obsessed with physical beauty and deeply worried over its emotional and psychological costs, Uglies is a story bound to resonate with teen girls and, even more, with their mothers. “I loved it when it came out,” says bookseller Bourdon-King, who recalls telling mothers, “Talk to your daughter about what it really means to be beautiful.”

James Dashner’s popular (particularly among boys) Maze Runner series deposits teen boys, their memories wiped clean, inside a maze that changes form nightly. They slowly realize they are part of an experiment, and that they are being selected for some future role on the basis of their ability to decode the maze. Last year’s Eve, by Anna Carey, has echoes of Margaret Atwood’s first dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Sixteen years after a lethal virus has wiped out 98 per cent of the human population, 18-year-old Eve is about to graduate from her orphanage when she learns the real role planned for her by the state: a mindless breeding machine.

In Matched (2010), author Ally Condie describes a world where a repressive, memory-controlling government uses complex algorithms to pair off 17-year-olds for life: so much for finding your own soul mate. Divergent, touted by many in the book trade as the next hot thing, takes place in a future Chicago where Lake Michigan is a swamp and the whole of society is as shoehorned into cliques as high school students are. Beatrice, now 16, has come to the age when, helped by an aptitude test, teens must choose which of five lifelong castes to join: Abnegation (those who help others), Amity (the peacemakers), Dauntless (the fighters), Candor (the brutally direct truth tellers) or Erudite (the intellectuals). But what if a girl has aptitude for more than one calling, what if she is, like Beatrice, brave, smart and selfless? Then she’s divergent, and as in any dystopia, that is not a good label to bear.

These stories are as much alike in their deep structure as they are varied on their surfaces. Their characters live, for the most part, in post-sexist societies; the protagonists are far more often female than in past adventure stories, and the girls all have kick-ass potential. Like Katniss, they rescue more than they are rescued. Even more remarkably, no one in the stories finds this startling—for all their other sins, in these dystopias gender equality has arrived. Often, at 16, 17 or 18, the young protagonists are forced to make a choice, a decision that will make them compete with their peers, force them into a niche, restrict their possibilities. Some resist from the beginning, while others are looking forward to their futures before an inadvertent peek behind the curtain of adult lies opens their eyes. They find their parents and teachers to be repressive or, more often, helpless; they are tossed, willy-nilly, into rebellion.

It’s teenage life writ large in an era when the prevailing concept of the future is more gloomy than not. And it’s written well, too, which is the real key to success. Teen dystopias, which always end more optimistically than their adult counterparts, are exciting and empowering stories. The stakes are usually very high indeed. Adults are the problem. And kids are the saviours. Of course the books are flying off the shelves.


‘The Hunger Games’: your kids are angrier than you think

  1. Badly written and sexist article. The author does not display much knowledge from the series apart from what can be gleaned from news articles. I cite “That makes strategy as important as brute force or killing skills, and a
    young girl can win the games over older and stronger males” – the book explicitly states that female tributes were as skilled or more so with weaponry as the males, particularly in the case of Careers. Narrow-minded misogyny hugely detracted from this article in general.

    •  Your argument says the same thing as citation you used to argue the article’s sexist bent. And have you ever read the definition of “misogyny”?

  2. @Someone.  Wow, you’r standard of ‘misogyny’ is pretty low…

  3. Gee not a single mention of Ender’s Game

    • I know!

    • Ender’s Game is aimed at younger readers (7-13) than the books in this article (12-18).

  4. Way to go someone make it a case of sexism. When you go to McDonalds and hold you order a Big Mac is it sexism if they forget to put cheese on it? Don’t throw this word around so casually. When you do this you undermine the significance of the term. It is just as awful as when people throw around the racism charge for no reason. There are real cases of both but you lose supporters when you link these charges to things that have nothing to do with it.

  5. I think there is variation in when movies promote parricide, and when they put adults in more paternal roles. Battle Royale came out at the end of Japan’s lost decade, just as Hunger Games (the movie) follows our own lost decade. The same is true of Home Alone and the Simpsons (which generated a following in the early 90’s recession, declining in the prosperous late 90’s). 

    In contrast, during prosperous times, children have tended to be carefully monitored by adults (eg. the Beaver, Johnny Quest and Will Robinson in the 50’s/60’s; the Huxtables, Marty McFly in the 80’s). 

  6. Good lord. It was a story, folks. That’s it! Why do people have to read so much into it and then twist it to grind their own stupid political axes? Can’t you just enjoy it without getting all bent out of shape over it?

    •  Win

    • good for you Jim.  Sorry Bethume, stick to book reviews and leave the movie reviews to those who know how to write them…your diatribe about nothing (how to scare parents with your title alone should exclude you from future articles of Macleans).  Shame on you!! 

    • If you did not see the political undertones of this film, then you were not paying attention…And as a young adult (23 is still young adult right?)  I can tell you it perfectly reflects my generations deep unease with the way things are going. IT was spot on. And by the way Bethume is right the kids are angrier and smarter then you think. And what stupid political axe are you talking about exactly? The fact that we are running out of resources and that the climate is changing and we have absolutly no plan to deal with thease things . Only in a world run by profit driven short sighted people would facts like that be politicized.     

      • I couldn’t agree with you more. Teenagers and younger adults are highly underestimated. I kind of wished the adults that run the country would take the time to listen to the voices of teens. Don’t our opinions matter? We’ll be living with what you leave behind for us so why don’t we have some say in what goes on in the world?

  7. Big Bad Jim has a valid point. It is an entertainment outlet. However, it wouldn’t hurt to at least assume that Collins had a message. In an age where spectacle is painting reality, I suggest Chris Hedges “Empire of Illusion”, it isn’t so bad to teach your children that no matter how civilized the western world appears to be, there are still people who would kill you to get what they want. The elites in particular. I’m from Alberta where the blood-sucking oil companies have begun the lean on our government for increased rights to our dwindling water supply. We are looking down the barrel of increased service charges so the government can continue to cater to big oil. Teaching our kids to be a little harder and a little more calculating is not a bad thing. It’s certainly better than teaching them that anything from The Suite Life on Deck to The Real Wives of ______ is anything even vaguely representative of reality.

    •  It is no wonder that young people are attracted to novels that present a disutopian view of the future. They are overwhelmed by futurists who present the future as horrible ie they will be eating food from algae and yeast factories, deluged by overpowering weather, caught in a political climate that is ruled by about 10 families.
      The Hunger Games is a logical projectory to where society is going. Games for fun like gladiator games during Roman times.
      I thought that the presentation of society reduced to feudal poverty and desperation was good. There was a huge gap between the rich and the poor. In case no one has noticed there is mass genocide happening right now in various third world countries. 

      It was heartening for me to see a female heroine who was motivated by loyalty and caring for family rather than some hulking brute motivated by blood lust and power. Children are watching this movie and picking up on the brutality of wealth and power held by a morally corrupt few. They are not going to go out and pick up bows and arrows to kill each other. Youth is just not that stupid.

      • Yes. Youth is not that stupid.
           And this female heroine is POOR . First time ever  teenagers living in poverty in our part of the world are described as not stupid.   We should distribute these books in the places where the poor go for food.     USA are really divided in 12 districts by the Réserve Nationale (the banks) since 1913.Canada is the 13th district.   Hunger Olympics Games are the London Olympics Games in this city where half of the children are hungry !!!   The economic racism is everywhere. Ad mare usque ad mare.

        • i see it as a joke, which im sure it was:P however if not, canada IS controlled by a bank(the canadian mint) however the extent to which american banks have now schemed and plotted thier way into controlling every american in your fine country, is extraordinary. Also just a thought on the play on names….Reserve Nationals i believe is a direct shot at the federal reserve….another thought; blood sport is iminent in our society, it already exists in the form of ufc, which im guilty of supporting, but not far behind will come games and fights to the death.

          Ron Paul 2012.

      •  My heart skipped when I read your response. I think you said what I was thinking better than I did.

  8. What the author seems to have overlooked is that stories like this have existed long before this new onslaught of YA Dystopia’s. While The Lord of the Flies was not about an oppressing government forcing the children to fight to the death, it held the same overall storyline of children losing their innocence and killing each other in order to survive. Yet that book is revered as a literary masterpiece and students are forced to read it in school.

    The story is simply that, a story. It is a fictional take on a possible outcome of the future, one that, if you look at human behaviour throughout history, is not all that unbelievable. It would not be the first time that innocent people were used to fight to the death for the entertainment of the rich and ‘classy’. Look at Rome with the Gladiator games. While the theory was that they were all criminals, criminal did not necessarily mean they had done something wrong. There was no real judge and jury.
    Had Hitler simply been bent on world domination and not annihilating every other race, I would not be surprised if a similar outcome had happened. 

    And the worst part is, it’s not just the children that feed on it — adults were the ones who went crazy over these ideas, who cheered and instilled the entertainment value on their kids. 

    This story simply takes a different perspective. What if, instead of taking criminals and adults, they decided that in order to keep people in line, they would use what is most precious? Their children. 

    Why does the story generate so much interest? It has nothing to do with the pent up anger of youth, the violent streaks that seem to be insinuated are waiting to burst by this article. It has to do with the fact that such a concept is so terrifying, there is an edge of strange excitement to it. It makes these kids think — What would I do if I were a tribute? Would I be brave enough? They latch onto it because many know that they wouldn’t survive. So they latch on to Katniss, who represents who we all hope we could be if our world took that turn — the one who holds onto her moral compass, who survives, and who takes on the new face of the world to prove that a better one should exist.

    If anything, I think this is the kind of story kids SHOULD read. 

    And as an adult, I am damn proud to have Katniss be a hero to kids.

  9. What a detailed and extremely well written article.very interesting.

  10. One aspect of this article that I dislike is how it talks about how “children”, the readers, aren’t aware of the violence, killing, and trauma that occurs in the novel. How can you not be? We’re not stupid. This violence and gore is what brings the strongest emotions to surface. They are emotions that we often feel in our overly dramatic lives. We are aware of the killing.  Scenarios of death and killing were the only thing on my mind  after reading the Hunger Games series. I could hardly think of anything else or read another book for three weeks afterwards, and I am an avid reader.

    To sum up my feelings for this article, I found it was meant only to console the adult/parental mind.
    Us teenagers were outspoken, our opinions ignored, and our minds falsely analyzed. 

    an 18 year old Hunger Games fan.

    •  Marcy, never change.

  11. Has this author even asked any of the adults/teens/preteens who have read it?  I know many teens and adults who have read the book and completely loved it NOT because it echos rebellion and how “adults are the problem,” the love it because it is a great story.  A story of overcoming odds, being true to oneself, hope, desire, and values (Katniss NEVER forgets about where she came from and her family).  Get over yourself dear editor.  Why do “adults” in the media have to destroy something that is being accepted all over, not because of the negative that it could portray, but because of the overall message of the story? 

  12.  “Frightening story about kids killing other kids for the amusement of adults”
    That’s Battle Royale…

    Hunger Games is , “Frightening story about kids killing other kids for the amusement of a higher class and for the torment of the lower class”

  13. I really don’t think it is that far fetched. In some neighbourhoods it is happening now. The adult drug dealers are sending out the kids to deal and kill ( because they can’t be charged , or are covered by the YOA)  . The kids lives mean nothing to them, if something happens there is another kid down the street to replace them. It also means less compition in the future for control.
    Even if they (the kids) are caught they are often sent home because they want to give them a second chance, sending them right back to the dealers. These dealers are often parents or family members or live-in  boy/girl friends of the parent. If the parent isn’t involved they don’t say anything they because the kid is helping pay the bills. These kids also feel they have no future because of the way the economy is so why does it matter.
    I am not a teen but I work with a lot of young people, most of them are going to school / or have graduated. They doubt they will get a full time job , because everything being offered is contract or part  time. They know people who graduated 7 yrs ago who are still on contract, my sister is still not permant full time after 15 yrs, because her industry has gone the way of the contract, temp work. Some say she should go back to school, that is difficult when you have kids and bills and no one to help.
    When you see the government protecting themselves and people in their age group ( retirement is now 67) lowering the old age payouts for those who need it most, what are the kids suppose to think. Guess what they are alot more aware now than when you were teens. They watch the news, because it is bombarded at them on the transit tv’s 24 hr news channel, free papers, and their parents being laid off, or their parents being forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs . 

  14. Another notable novel is Variant by Robison Wells. It isn’t really dystopian, but it shares some themes as the other books mentioned. Just thought I’d put that out there in case you want to look it up. I suggest it!