Because of my disregard for modern day bestsellers, I never dreamed I’d be reviewing The Hunger Games on my web log. But I was intrigued by a number of theological blogs that dismissed it as anti-Christian while an equal number of bloggers praised it for its Christian themes. I had to find out for myself.
Whether you like this book or hate it, it’s hard to put down once you start reading. Collins has written a compelling story of a young girl who is battling for her life in her country’s yearly “Hunger Games.” Every year teenagers are selected from each district in Panem to fight to the death. When Katniss Everdeen’s 12 year old sister, Prim, is chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place.
Is there any idea more biblical than self-sacrifice? And that isn’t the only time that grace is extended. Peetah gives bread to Katniss when she is starving. The baker promises to look after Prim while Katniss is gone. Her friend, Gale, promises to feed her mother and sister. Rue warns Katniss of danger. Thresh refuses to kill her when he has a chance. Katniss risks her chances of winning the games by helping Peetah when he is wounded. And the list goes on.
Forgiveness is another theme in the novel. While in training for the games, Katniss meets a girl who she had once seen fleeing from the Capitol. Katniss feels guilty for not having helped her escape and wishes she could ask forgiveness. After Katniss’ father dies, her mother abandons the family (in an emotional sense). Katniss holds a grudge against her and later wishes she could have more clearly expressed forgiveness.
As far as Book One is concerned, the positive themes far outweigh the negative ones of violence, revenge, etc. Since I’m not a big fan of romance novels, I didn’t love the final chapters where Katniss and Peetah are trying to sort out their feelings for one another. However, I am withholding my final judgment on the series until read the other two books.
Sidenote: I dread seeing the movie. Katniss and Peetah pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend to gain audience sympathy (because the games are televised to the entire nation). At one point she removes his clothing to clean his wounds. Later they slip into the same sleeping bag to keep warm. I can see how the movie version could be more sexualized. Also, the killings are not graphically described in the book, but would be much more vivid and shocking on screen. If you’ve seen the movie, let me know if my hunch is correct.