Finish all three books before reading further. Warning: Contains Spoilers!
At first, I thought Suzanne Collins was making a bold anti-war statement. In the Hunger Games, powerful adult politicians use young people for violent entertainment, then for actual war. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s exaggerated. We don’t play deadly games with real kids, only virtual ones. And our soldiers have to be 18, but Katniss is only 3 years younger.
No doubt war is a central to the Hunger Games. Collins got the idea for the books while flipping channels between reality shows and war coverage, and as she told the NYT:
“I don’t write about adolescence. I write about war. For adolescents.”
But what is she saying about war exactly? That it’s hell, for sure. Collins doesn’t hesitate to kill off key characters. But the world at the start of the series is so oppressive it begs for revolution, and her heroine, Katniss, plays the starring, violent role.
Yet, after all the blood and gore, Katniss is a broken person, having lost almost everything she fought for. Not exactly a happy ending. Then again, her world has changed through war. It’s relatively peaceful. The abuse of children has ended. Has the sacrifice been worth it?
I think the books are deeply divided over war. They’re not patently pacifist, but at the same time, they don’t seem to justify violent revolution as the answer. I find this tension very interesting, but I have to wonder: