I’m not going to see The Hunger Games movie. I haven’t read the books. Probably never will. I have no beef with them, I think it’s a great thing that a book has excited so many readers of all ages and a movie made from that book is selling out theaters and the media is giving books and reading this much coverage. This is never a bad thing. And as an author, I firmly believe that any book that becomes a phenomenon and drives people into to bookstores and gets people, especially young readers, excited and jazzed about reading is great for both readers and writers.
But the thing about reading is, it’s a personal choice. And I know the subject matter of The Hunger Games would be difficult for me to deal with. Reading is an intense emotional experience for me. And I’m certain the idea of children being forced to fight to the death for food, no matter the reasons or circumstances, would bother me. Again. I don’t have a problem with Suzanne Collins writing about it, people reading it or watching it on the screen. I want to be clear. It just not for me. I know a lot of authors, but I’ve never met Suzanne Collins. But from reading about her she seems like an imminently likable, nice person and and an obviously talented writer. I congratulate her on her success. But I won’t be reading her books. At least not The Hunger Games.
I realize it sounds like a contradiction for me to say, as someone who has written about the Third Crusade in my Youngest Templar series, a particularly violent period of human history, that I don’t want to read a book like this. My characters face battles and death and all things the people of that era faced. But I also try to show them avoiding violence whenever possible. Resorting to violence only when it’s necessary to defend themselves or someone else. I also try to show that violence has consequences. It changes a person.
And I understand the concept behind The Hunger Games of a young girl doing what she feels she must to save herself and her family. But as a father, upon reading the books or seeing the movies, and cursed with a vivid imagination, I know I would imagine my own children in a similar predicament and it would upset me. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. I tend to do this all the time. I love reading Dennis Lehane for example, but I have never read his book Gone Baby, Gone because it deals with a kidnapped young girl. I know I would instantly imagine my own daughter in that situation and become emotionally distraught by it. I can’t watch movies or TV shows or read books where children face this kind of danger. Like I said, it’s a personal thing. Maybe it is a naive viewpoint, heck it probably is. But its how I feel. Maybe I’m just a big ole wuss.
But I will watch the success of The Hunger Games with a smile. I rejoice in the fact that we live in a place where books like The Hunger Games are published. Where books that inspire, teach, entertain, speak to and sometimes even anger people, are readily available. And I’ll especially rejoice that we live in a place where we are free to make our own choices.
So if you’re going to the movie this weekend, I hope you enjoy the experience. If you are a parent taking your child to see it, I congratulate you for allowing books like The Hunger Games to be read in your home. I hope you’ll discuss it with each other, reveling in the parts that spoke to you. And when the movie is over, I sincerely hope you’ll stop by the bookstore or library on your way home and pick out something else to read.
I would love to know your point of view. Are you going to the movie? Have you read the books? Love them? Not love them? If not why not? Tell me what you think. No spoilers please for those who may not have read the books or seen the movie.
Michael P. Spradlin