Well, it's mid-November which means Thanksgiving (Yay!), Black Friday (Boo!), and of course the newest addition to the Hunger Games film series and, this time around, it will be the last. There will be tons of terrible withdrawal from fans, I assure you. Unlike the Potter series where the author decided to write a trilogy of prequel movies to keep their world alive, Hunger Games looks like it's going the direction of The Hobbit/Tolkien franchise where we'll be giving the series and those that created it a wet and blubbering goodbye.
* sniff * The pain is real.
My own introduction to the dystopian series started before the films came out and the book series itself was coming to its peak of popularity. It was a pleasant surprise to read a Young Adult book that kept the typical easy-to-read format, yet didn't dumb itself down or not take its audience seriously. It didn't focus on the primary focus of the series, being that a boy and girl from each 'district' must kill each other until one remains, but looked more at why a dystopia had come to this point. The popularity it had garnered with the teenaged audience who had only years before fawned over the somehow famous Twilight series was encouraging without a doubt. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that The Hunger Games is one of the best Young Adult series of the past decade.
The strongest point of the entire series rests on the shoulders of its relatable, strong female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. She immediately proves, when we meet her in both the books and the movies, that she is not your typical teenaged heroine. She is a responsible individual, both out of necessity and love for her family. We learn that her father died in a coal mining accident which sent her mother into a deep depression, leaving Katniss to provide for her mother and younger sister at a young age. Even when her mother recovered, she hunted to make sure they (including other less fortunate families) got fed. When her little sister, Prim, is chosen in the lottery that decides who participates in the 'games', Katniss takes her place knowing her sister has little chance of surviving. Her self-reliance gives her an excellent advantage in the games, but her willingness to reach out for help from those she trusts when it's needed most also helps her to survive. That balance mixed with her determination to fight for what's right gets her back home.
Before I go on, I'll address something that I know many of my fellow geeks are itching to comment about. The Hunger Games is almost exactly like Battle Royale. I'll concede that. The plot of the first book is nearly identical with a few elements changed around. But there are things that are not addressed or explored in Battle Royale that Hunger Games delves into, not just giving it a different enough voice but making the audience more uncomfortable. Battle Royale is certainly violent and unflinching when it comes to showing what's basically kids killing each other but Hunger Games makes those running the games and being entertained so unnervingly similar to its own audience, they are ignorant and materialistic in ways that we can't help but think of ourselves. Hunger Games makes a strong statement about the attitude and habits of our society by exploring real-world problems that need to be addressed, especially with our younger generations. Where Battle Royale stopped, Hunger Games digs deeper.
If I had a nickel for every time Hunger Games has been put under a microscope for the themes it explores, I would be on my own personal island making the cast of the Firefly act out more episodes for my amusement. The series takes a jab at some rather unsavory things about our media-centered nation as well as global issues that are being discussed amongst the worlds greatest minds.
It's not hard at all to see that Hunger Games is unhappy with our media culture, from the gaudy talk show with an over exuberant host to the reactions of an audience who have the audacity to feel anything for the people they are going to send, essentially, to their deaths. This same audience gets fed coverage of the 'games' and surrounding districts that is heavily biased and only feeds their own selfish desires. Sound familiar?
Many political implications could be taken as well. The audience of the games that I was talking about all live in 'The Capital' where they live off of the resources that come from surrounding districts who often live in poverty and under a police state. They are a perfect example of the higher class looking down on the lower class and doing nothing. While horrific things happen to the people who are responsible for getting them food, clothing, and pretty much everything they require in their worry-free lives, they watch a game where these very people die one after the other for entertainment.
In real life, we certainly don't allow people to be killed in such a manner, but we watch people get killed everyday all over the world for multiple reasons on our TV screens. All while passing unfair judgements, criticizing, or feeling empathetic shortly before forgetting them altogether.
Geez, I'm depressing myself. Here have a pic of Katniss and Peeta's couple name.
I'm actually going to end my ranting here because this is all starting to feel too heavy for a typical blog post, but let me end with one last thing. The books took me on an emotional and thought provoking roller coaster that millions of other teens have now ridden. The movies presented visuals that are scarily close to what we see on the news everyday. My hope is that in a country where many of our younger generation are, generally, seen as being self-centered morons who only care about who becomes the next winner of 'The Voice', the Hunger Games series (both book and film) will be a well-made and gripping slap to their faces. The problems they see on the page or on the silver screen are not just fictional and there most definitely needs to be a revolution. Guess who lead the one in Hunger Games? A young woman who followed her conscience and wouldn't stand by while the world watched itself burn.
What are your thoughts on the Hunger Games? Did you catch any messages or themes that I didn't mention? Tell me about it in the comments. Also, are you excited to see the last addition to the series?