SPOILER ALERT: There’s not much in the way of spoilers here, but if you want to skip to the end and just leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Hunger Games, please feel free!
I don’t review YA books (and Hunger Games is definitely young adult), but I wanted to talk a bit about this amazing book (series), as we hover on the precipice of the release of Mockingjay (the third book in the series, after Catching Fire).
The NYTimes might be shocked to discover adults are reading kidlit like mad, but I wasn’t at all surprised to find several of my mom-friends at two separate reunions were Hunger Games devotees.
Hunger Games is a tightly-written, fantastically crafted, high-voltage book. It’s about children ages 12+ that are sent to fight each other to the death, as tributes to the central government that controls their impoverished lives. Not only is the idea itself rich with conflict that’s inappropriate for ages 8-12, but the actual violence is pretty severe (speared bodies, poisonous gas dissolving flesh, and other horrors). The violence could be more graphic, but the fact that it is children perpetrating this against other children makes it horrifying.
I absolutely LOVE this book. Love it so much I accidentally ordered it twice (more on that later). Love it with that obsessive passion that makes you stay up all night reading, damn the consequences. And order the sequel. And pine for the third book to come out (Mockingjay is released on the 24th, but you can enter contests here and here to WIN a copy). I love it because it is ultimately a story about a heroic girl fighting to save her sister, her family, and eventually the oppressed all around her. Hunger Games also has a love triangle, again pushing it into YA territory, although there is very little by way of descriptive love scenes. (I’m Team Peeta. Thanks for asking.)
Some might be tempted to give this book to their tween children (ages 8-12), but I would recommend holding off until 13, and then talking to your child about the book. In fact, I recommend reading the book first, and then deciding what is best for your child.
I’ve read it. I won’t be handing it to Dark Omen (age 11 3/4) for another year or two. But I’m looking forward to the time we can read it together, because it is rich with moral decision making.
Being in possession of an extra copy of Hunger Games, I figured I would give it away to my lovely blog readers (13 and older, please!), just to share the addiction. Leave a comment today, or during my guest post tomorrow, and I will pick a name on Wednesday the 18th. Plenty of time for you to read Hunger Games, and the second book Catching Fire, before Mockingjay comes out on the 24th.
But don’t plan on doing anything else. Consider yourself warned.
UPDATE: After reading Mockingjay, I’m tempted to raise my age recommendation for the series to 14 or 15. I’m not in the habit of rating teen books, so my gauge is not as finely tuned, but the violence in Mockingjay is more extreme than the first two books and leaves you with some images that could be disturbing for young teens. That being said, the third book is as amazing as the first two and definitely fulfills the promise of the series. But caution may be in order for younger, especially sensitive, teens.
There are many opinions on how much violence is too much in young adult literature, and I’m not trying to spark that debate here, just giving you a warning. Also: I’m not the only one concerned. Again, the best solution is to judge for yourself.