Investing in Family, Book Review: "The Hunger Games"

We here at MomVesting are always looking for new angles on the "investing in..." theme and are pleased to take yet another path on the "investing in family" trail. Books, movies and music are a part of our life and our family's lives, and we'll take a look at some of the offerings on the shelves, screens and iPods out there to help you make an informed choice about whether said media is right for your family.

Our first selection to launch this new bunch of posts is "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. Like it or lump it, there probably isn't another book out there today generating as much buzz as this one (except maybe "50 Shades of Grey" – and that one definitely isn't geared toward the kiddos).

The Synopsis

In a nutshell, this book centers around a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen and her struggle to survive in a government-run fiasco called, appropriately enough, the Hunger Games. Set in a future America (re-christened Panem) some time after a devestating war, the government seeks to control the country and dispel any further rebellious notions by pitting a teenaged boy and girl from each of the country's twelve districts against each other in a specially designed Arena. The twenty-four teens then battle it out to the death until one remains. Oh, yeah, and the whole world watches.

Katniss, of course, is one of the teens (called Tributes) heading into the arena from District 12; the male Tribute is a baker's son named Peeta. The two get some help in preparation for the trial ahead of them from drunken mentor Haymitch (who is also the only other victor from District 12 still living) and the colorful Effie (who is an escort of sorts for the District 12 Tributes). Both Katniss and Peeta also bring whatever skills they've honed over their short lives to the Arena; Katniss is adept in hunting and overall survival (thanks, in part, to her dear friend-who-is-a-boy-but-not-a-boyfriend Gale), while Peeta can throw massive bags of flour long distances. And decorate cakes.

The MomVesting Rating

Let's take a look at some things we as parents are interested in when considering whether we should allow our children to read a book; namely, violence, sex, language and morality:

  • Language: There is no harsh language (curse words) in this book.
  • Sex: Despite scenes of male and female teens being alone together, there is very little in the way of sexual situations in "The Hunger Games". Parents should know there is some kissing involved, and in an interesting take, it is mostly used for gain and as part of the game.
  • Drugs and Alcohol: While there is no drug use involved, one of the characters is a falling-down drunk. It's pretty safe to say his alcohol consumption is not glamorized in any way.
  • Violence: This is the biggie. Of course, it's violent. Or, rather, it's a violent subject matter (the teens are setting out to kill one another!). With that being said, the violence contained within the pages is not over the top or gory, but there are deaths. Many of them. In addition, the Gamemakers, a group of government cronies responsible for putting on the Games, have cooked up some fairly frightening, sci-fi-ish creatures to liven things up in the Arena. These muttations, as they're called, can be pretty disturbing for any age.

The book is recommended for ages twelve and older, and I think twelve is a good starting point on which to base a decision on whether or not your child should read this book. As I mentioned before, the whole subject matter is pretty bleak and disturbing in and of itself, even if it doesn't deliver descriptive gore. "The Hunger Games" also gives a chance for parents and mature teen readers to discuss a myriad of topics relevant to life and society today; it's a very good, fast read for adults and teens alike.

"The Hunger Games" is the first of a trilogy of books and also has a big screen adaptation in theaters; keep watching for more MomVesting posts on this hot topic.

While we anticipate bringing you these types of posts from time to time and have several titles in mind already, we'd love to hear from you. What kinds of titles are your kids begging you to read? What movies are they clamoring to see?

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Anonymous's picture

Michelle wrote:

Tue, 04/10/2012 - 19:00 Comment #: 1

I have an 11-year-old who is BEGGING me to take him to the movie. He's not read the book even (my husband and I both did, though) and I'm not sure I'm ready for that even.

Spoiler alert (like anyone's NOT read the books, right? ;)): Red rum isn't something I want my sweet, innocent 11-year-old who still believes in the Easter Bunny thinking about, kwim? Maybe in a year, I will feel differently....we'll see.

Anonymous's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Tue, 04/10/2012 - 20:38 Comment #: 2

I've heard this is so great, but haven't decided if I wanted to read it yet. It sounds a lot like a Japanese movie I saw one time...Battle Royale. It was way too gory for me. I couldn't handle it.