I was watching @therapy_cinema ‘s take on The Hunger Games yesterday and was reminded why I loved the books so much. Not only did they come during a time of my own life when I was in desperate need of relatable–not necessarily happy–stories to contextualize my own emotional chaos, the books inspired a shift in young adult literature that still echoes today.
Dystopian literature has always been “a thing”. From 1984 to The Giver, many of us grew up consuming these older narratives, which speculated about the future of society–a time most of us were already living in once we read the books. While they still felt poignant and in some ways relevant, the older publication and thus decades old perspectives separated them from our own modern experiences.
Then came Suzanne Collins to remind us society is never free from conflict. While most of us do not (thankfully) live in the same conditions laid out in the trilogy, the books still cover themes that are timeless–and often very, very difficult to acknowledge.
I remember reading that her main intent was to convey the effects of war on young people–how they are burdened with responsibility at an age where they’ve barely figured out their own identities–and expected to face incredible traumas in favor of the ‘greater good’. But even beyond the war-time scenario, all of the characters, from Primrose to Haymitch, stand as reflections of how humans tolerate and process overwhelming traumas.
As Cinema Therapy concluded, the books are so real because they don’t just end on a happy, good guys win note. Katniss has found a semblance of normalcy, yes. But she and Peeta and the rest of Panem are vitally aware that their current peace does not erase the loss they endured.
There are very few books that made me feel so connected to the characters, gutted by their stories and moved by their deaths. The media craze that gave us “Team Peeta/Team Gale” and Capitol merch (ew), and a few fairly decent movies is past. But 10 years later and the books are still a powerful representation of the human condition, and the ills of society.
TL;DR: 11/10, highly recommend.