» trynica daniels – tdaniels8@my.apsu.edu

The New York Times bestselling trilogy “The Hunger Games” has spread in popularity like wildfire. So much, it is sometimes hard to believe it was published a mere four years ago. For many devoted fans, the series is on par with the classics of past generations.

Whether you agree with the hype and the rave reviews, dismiss it as the current fad or have no opinion on the series one way or the other, there’s no denying the inordinate amount of press coverage, advertisement and attention the story has received.

“The Hunger Games” is a story of survival, and as a cautionary tale. It takes place in a dystopian future, where North America has become the nation of Panem. Panem is ruled by the corrupt and lavish Capitol, which receives resources from the backbreaking labor of the workers in the 12 Districts.

Understandably, the Districts rioted against the Capitol at a certain point in their history, but the rebellion was unsuccessful. As punishment, each year the Capitol holds a gladiator-style tournament known as the Hunger Games, in which one boy and one girl, called tributes, from every district are randomly selected to fight to the death against the other tributes. From this, the first novel begins.

Chilling tales of what we as a nation could potentially evolve into continue to capture audiences. Such a timeless and universal theme cannot be called anything other than classic. With a premise like that one, though, there is obviously an enormous capacity for violence. Suzanne Collins, the author of the trilogy, pulled no punches when describing brutal, gory and numerous deaths in her story.

Like many great classics, “The Hunger Games” has provoked a variety of responses. Some are unsure of how they feel about it, mainly because of all the child victims, while others consider it too gruesome for the young adults it has been clearly marketed for. Some are calling for the banning of the trilogy from library shelves.

I’m going to be honest and plainly say I am not a fan of the books, but I do not agree with the idea of preventing children from accessing them. Considering the popularity and widespread availability of these books, not only would it be morally reprehensible but, it’d just be impractical.

The best authors write for a reason. Anyone with the patience to write out an entire novel obviously has passion for his or her message. Although writers create art for art’s sake, they publish to be read, and the least the public can do is listen to what they have to say. Whether we agree with what they say, or are repulsed by their message and reject it absolutely, at least we have given the author a chance. Literature dies only when it is no longer read.

As for the reasons cited for desiring the removal of these texts, for a story largely held up by child-on-child violence, there are surprisingly little gratuitous or graphic scenes. The more difficult scenes are tastefully handled, with just enough detail to paint a stark picture, but never over-the-top or, glorified.

There is absolutely no profanity in these books, even in situations that might reasonably call for it. The prose is strong enough to stand without them. The books are maybe even a little bewildering in their popularity, as they use few of the gimmicks usually used to reel in younger readers.

The fighters are not highly-trained people displaying neatly choreographed, visually pleasing fight scenes; they are frightened children clumsily bludgeoning and shooting at one another in a desperate attempt for survival. At times, it is uncomfortable and the prose is risky. There is a love story involved, but it is only another means for survival and not real.

In this way, the books are ahead of their time, and this is why so many might feel threatened by it. There’s a belief among authors if you’ve touched enough people, your books cause an uproar and people have challenged it from reaching the shelves, it’s a sign you’ve made it big.

I would say this is a case of people fearing what they don’t understand, but actually, the concerned individuals filing complaints with the American Library Assocations might understand the book too well. It hits close to home, and makes people squirm a bit.

Almost every other banned or challenged book in American history has had a similar effect; they have turned an unwavering eye to an uncomfortable truth. They have also been hailed as literature’s greatest classics.

And so, like it or not, I think “The Hunger Games” is here to stay, and there are much less worthwhile young adult novels in the market today trying to pass themselves off as literature. But “The Hunger Games” is the real deal — the trilogy is the third most frequently challenged book of 2011 according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. With that distinction, Suzanne Collins has marked her place in the literature world forever. TAS