The Hunger Games. There is no doubt that many of us have read this book or have at least heard enough about it through peers and in the news. Those who have read it may have an understanding of why there has been such a buzz surrounding its content, while others remain curious about what they might find within the pages if this book. The plot is gripping to say the very least. Author Suzanne Collins can be given credit for engaging her readers right off the bat and holding their attention from chapter to chapter.
The story takes place in a futuristic setting portraying the life of a young girl named Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a sixteen year old who lives in a place called Panem. Keeping in mind that this takes place in the future, Panem is the new name of what we would call North America. Instead of the individual states we have now, Panem is separated into twelve districts ruled by a government referred to as the Capital. Katniss lives in district twelve.
Life for Katniss and her family is a daily struggle. The Capital has taken complete control over the lives of the people living in each district and in the most severe of means. There is starvation, death due to sickness, and people struggling to live off anything they can scrounge up. This seems nothing like the future we would predict to see for ourselves, is it? Why, you may ask yourself, is life like this for Katniss?
I believe a big part of what author Suzanne Collins is really trying to portray in her book is the amount of power the government of Panem has and its relation to today’s society. In the beginning chapters Katniss refers to the “Dark Days.” This was a time when the people of Panam rebelled against the Capital because they saw that it was becoming too powerful and was beginning to take complete control. There was a great uprising and war that resulted in the government’s completely destroying district thirteen. This, of course, frightened the remaining twelve districts and brought the rebellion to a halt. It is from this uprising that the Hunger Games were developed.
One boy tribute and one girl tribute from each district would be chosen at random and forced to battle against each other to the death. There may only be one winner. This is the Capital’s way of punishing and reminding the people never to rebel again. Having tributes from each district battle against each other is also a way the Capital makes sure it is impossible for them to join forces to rebel again. What happens to the winner of the Hunger Games? The government provides for the winner and their family a life they could only dream about—an endless amount of food, a home, medical supplies— and that is only the beginning. This is all part of the Capital’s conniving way of giving the tributes something worth fighting for.
It is in this kind of setting that readers will follow Katniss and the choices she decides to make or not to make throughout the course of the games. Obviously I have only just begun to touch on what can be found within the pages of this book. Included are many more characters, a roller coaster ride of twists, and even a bit of a love story. Suzanne Collins may definitely be commended for her ability to make it difficult for readers to put the book down.
Although this book may not have necessarily been written by a Christian author intending to specifically portray Reformed morals and values, it can cause a Christian reader to pause and think. One of the main focuses of this story is the governmental power that develops over the years and the forms of persecution that take place because of it. This is not something unfamiliar to us in our lives. We are warned in 2 Timothy 3:1, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” The Hunger Games does not specifically at any point refer to the fact that the government is doing this in spite of the word of God or for the hatred of believers, but it is, no doubt, portraying the reality of man’s sinful pride and selfishness that drives his appetite for power.
Matthew 24:7: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” Our future is unknown to us. We do not know when these “perilous” times will come. The first part of 2 Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night:” God does not reveal to us the time and the hour of his returning. We do, however, see the signs he has set before us as a constant reminder of his coming. “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).
The Hunger Games is one woman’s way of producing entertainment for others by giving her worldly perspective of what she thinks the future could possibly be like for us and our children. She makes a point of incorporating the use of technology in her story as a vital aspect of the way of life in the future. As Christians we can definitely see how big a role technology is playing in today’s society.
One other aspect of this book worth noting is the character of Katniess Everdeen (and all other characters, for that matter). Throughout the book you will home in on what motivates Katniss to do the things the she does. She is stubborn, rebellious, and bitter towards the Capital, and with good reason. However, as Christians we must remember what the Bible teaches us in Romans 13:1–2: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Again, the Hunger Games does not relate the motivation of the Capital’s actions against the people because of hatred of their beliefs. However, as Christians we must be reminded to honor the authorities God has placed above us even when we don’t agree with what they are doing. A day will come that God’s people are persecuted and killed for their love of Christ. How will we respond? Will we join them for fear of persecution or death? “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God“ (Rom. 12:2).