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Nate (N. D.) Wilson is one of my favorite writers. He has given us some excellent fiction and non-fiction books. He knows what makes a story work.

Nate was in town recently, and we had a conversation about books, beauty, and bestsellers. Naturally, we talked about The Hunger Games. His take on it was too good to keep to myself, so I asked if I could share it here.

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core
N.D. Wilson

Almost everywhere I go, I’m asked about The Hunger Games (book, not film). The questions used to fly about Twilight and Potter, but Katniss and dystopic death-matches have taken over.

First, I completely understand why The Hunger Games took off. Suzanne Collins knows how to suck readers into a page-turning frenzy. The pace of the book grabs like gorilla glue and the kill-or-be-killed tension keeps fingernails nibbled short. She knows her craft, and I have to say that I’m grateful to her for expanding our mutual marketplace (in the same way that Rowling did). That said, Collins stumbles badly in her understanding of some pretty fundamental elements of human story, and the whole thing is flawed to its core as a result.

The best authors are students of humanity, both as individuals and grouped in societies (big and small).

  • C.S. Lewis’ profound insight into human motivation and relationships is on display in Narnia, and even more intricately in his Space Trilogy. He paints honest and accurate portraits, leading readers through darkness toward wisdom.
  • Think about Mark Twain’s ability to see and image the motivations of boys, and the entire society in which those boys lived.
  • Tom Wolfe’s sharp clear vision is on display in both his essays and his fiction. He sees into the hearts and minds of men; he sees which of their choices and follies will set fire to the world around them, and how exactly that fire will progress and grow. (And, like the greatest writers, he manages to maintain an affection and sympathy for his characters and for humanity in general despite this insight.)

When an author profoundly misunderstands human societies, arbitrarily forcing a group or a character into decisions and actions that they would never choose for themselves given the preceding narrative, it drives me bonkers. I once threw The Fountainhead across the room for exactly that crime, and I’ve never read anything by Rand since. And Collins bundles clumsy offenses like this in Costco bulk…

Quick Switch 1

Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games. Yay. Self-sacrifice. Christian themes, yadda, yadda. So far so good. But that walnut shell slides away immediately and a moment of self-sacrifice is replaced with sustained, radical, murderous self-interest.

In the Christian ethos, laying down one’s life for another is glorious. In the Darwinian world, self-preservation is the ultimate shiny good. Readers bite the lure of sacrifice, and then blissfully go along with survive-at-the-expense-of-murdered-innocents. Katniss becomes evil–she’s even relieved at one point that someone else murdered her innocent little friend, because she knew that she would have to do it herself eventually. And we still give her credit for being sacrificial…

(Sacrificial Sidenote: Many people point to Peeta as the truly noble and sacrificial character. I don’t mind him as a character, but a picture of heroic sacrifice he ain’t. In Hunger Games, he’s fundamentally passive and submissive. He’s that guy who is happy to ‘just be friends’ with the cute girl. Or a lot more than friends (but only if she initiates). He’s just the puppy at her heels. “Sure, kill me Katniss. Oh, you’d rather we both killed ourselves? Yes, Katniss. Whatever you say, Katniss.” Really? There are plenty of guys in the world just like Peeta, and kudos to Collins for using the type, especially since nice second-fiddle fellas like that confuse and conflict girls tremendously. But worldview readers are gaming themselves into seeing something that just isn’t there.)

Quick Switch 2

The self-defense defense. Katniss is a victim, but so is every other innocent person thrust into these games. She should be rising above the game and defending herself (and everyone else) from the Hunger Games. Instead, she kills her fellow victims. Sure, if someone is in the act of trying to murder you, shoot them through the throat. But dropping tracker jackers on sleeping kids? Negativo. Why is she playing this game by the rules at all? The Hunger Games are the real enemy.

If Collins wanted her protagonist to be the kind of rebel who would start a revolution (and she does want that), she should have had Katniss cutting her locator out of her arm on night one instead of participating in and perpetuating the evil. But readers are a little numb to killing, and this particular switch wasn’t hard to pull on us.

Here’s a thought experiment to help us see clearly. What if Collins had thrown her character into this arena and the rules had been different? Last one raped wins. Rape or be raped. Obviously, a real hero wouldn’t play the game. Explode the game. (Sidenote: rape is awful, but at least the other kids would have survived.)


File this under misunderstanding humanity, which is just another way of saying that The Hunger Games misunderstands courage, inspiration, oppression, and nobility as they relate to people in a collective herd. If you want to see an accurate picture of how one enslaved victim can threaten a regime, watch Gladiator. Twenty thousand people (and the emperor) are commanding one slave to kill another. (Kill!Kill!Kill!) But instead, he throws his sword in the dirt and turns his back on the emperor. And…the people he just defied now adore him. He inspires. His courage is unlike anything they’ve seen, and he is now officially a political problem.

Walk through what Collins has Katniss do while playing in the Hunger Games. First, she does and says exactly what she’s told to do and say (trying to manipulate the mob with false sentimentality). Second, she plays the vile despotic game, and by the immoral rules.  Finally, she threatens to kill herself (and talks her faux-boyfriend into doing it with her). This, allegedly, panics the establishment and is the spark that will start a revolution.

But the world doesn’t work that way. Men and women are not inspired to risk their lives in insurrection and defiance by someone reaching for poisonous berries. Revolutions are not started by teen girls suicide-pacting with cute baker boys. Oppressive regimes are not threatened by people who do what they are told.

Put yourself in the author’s well-worn desk chair. If you really wanted your Katniss to threaten this tyrannical system like many great men and women have threatened many tyrants throughout the ages, what would you have her do? She needs to be a lot more punk rock (in the best possible way). She needs to stop giving a rip about her own survival (the most dangerous men and women always forget themselves). She needs to refuse to be a piece in the game. Imagine millions of people watching her disarm some boy who was trying to murder her, and then cutting out his locator, hiding him, and keeping him alive. Every time she defied the order to kill, she would earn the true loyalty of the spared kid’s district. And she would start being a legitimate political threat. (Even Tom Wolfe asked me about The Hunger Games, having apparently heard it had some revolutionary insight. I hit him with the primary plot beats and watched him blink in confusion.)

There is more to say, but I’ve said enough. Well, almost. One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades. As you watch, as you read, shoulder your way into the creator’s chair. Don’t take the final product for granted, analyze the creator’s choices and cheerfully push them in new and different directions. As we do this, the clarity of our criticism will grow immensely. Which is to say, we’ll be suckered far less often than we currently are.

Lastly, Suzanne Collins can really write. It’s just that we can’t really read.

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264 thoughts on “Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core”

  1. Brilliant, brilliant article. Tell Nate thanks!

  2. Gary says:

    Thank you for posting these excellent observations. Very helpful, both specifically with regard to THG and as general advice dealing with all fiction. I’m disappointed that the author isn’t currently able to comment constructively on the fiction of Ayn Rand, given the impact that writer has had on politics, economics and society.

  3. Matthew L says:

    Thanks for sharing. These are insightful comments, and I think some have rushed to “find redemptive themes” (because that’s what we’ve been trained to do for a decade now!) a little fast.

    However, I would argue that, especially in light of book 2 (I haven’t read book 3 yet), Collins is using Katniss to reflect on themes of totalitarianism, fear, and rebellion; in book 2 Katniss’ self-preservation instinct is explored pretty thoroughly as a character flaw. I don’t think the books are meant to provide us with a Courageous Example of What To Do In A Totalitarian Society, but rather they work pretty hard to draw parallels between Panem and our society, asking the reader what they would do in such a cruel world– or will do.

    1. Sarah says:

      I agree with you on this, Matthew. Having read all three books (more than once I’m embarrassed to say), I think that Collins hasn’t drawn up a character that we ought to look to as a shining example of anything. Katniss grows, changes and matures throughout the novels, but is never someone I would want my children to model themselves after. I find that Collins’ books tend to be descriptive rather than prescriptive.

      1. Bill Robbins says:

        I do think Collins intends Catnis to be someone we would ever want our children to aspire to be. She’s flawed to the core and never overcomes those flaws. That’s Collins perspective on hero. Heros aren’t real. The girl on TV that started a revolution is fake just like all “heros” are.

        But despite heros being fake, they can still serve a purpose like overthrowing a totalitarian regime.

  4. Chris says:

    Wow, I’m surprised at how fully I disagree with ND Wilson on this. I normally like his writings, but I don’t like this critique of THG. I think he misses the point entirely of Katniss’s life-narrative, and of Collins’ purpose for her. Collins makes Katniss a revolutionary … eventually. She’s a person in process. She’s a teenage girl. Ever met any of those? Do they know comprehensively what they want to do with their lives? To compare her to Maximus in Gladiator is RIDICULOUS. He’s a hardened warrior with a full-grown man’s understanding of politics and civic duties. Katniss is a poor teenaged girl. Dude, seriously? She’s acting out of emotion, confusion, and resourcefulness in the arena. If you read all the books, you find out that she slowly and reluctantly morphs into the revolutionary character OVER TIME. In the arena she’s just doing whatever impulsively seems best in each situation. She’s NOT systematically trying to take down the games, nor the government in Book 1. Perhaps she’s a bad fiction character (according to some esoteric rules of fiction characters), but she does behave in a very realistic way based on the thinking and emotions of real teenage girls.

    Granted she is not and never becomes a “Christian” character or motivated by anything remotely resembling “Christian” morality by any stretch of the imagination. She’s always selfishly driven by the desire to protect her family, especially her sister, and by extension herself (because she wants NOT to suffer the pain of losing her sister). She’d even trade Gale (or her mom) for her sister if it ever came to that. If you understand her motivation in the whole story as being to protect her sister (and not to take down the government or to fight evil in some grand way), it all makes sense.

    1. Victoria says:

      Great points, Chris! Thanks. I hope people read them!

      1. mel says:

        Read it and have to disagree. Not all teenagers are unformed humans when it comes to character and ethical decisions.
        Mary, the mother of Jesus, a real human being would be the best example.

        1. Joe says:

          Mary, the mother of Jesus, had an angel of God explaining exactly what was happening and why. She was also never forced to face the potential of eleven other teenagers trying to kill her, though she did see the terror of a godless regime committing infanticide because of her child.

          Katniss Everdeen knows about the Hunger Games based on what she has seen on television…television controlled by a regime that is decidedly NOT on God’s side. And her central motivation throughout the whole trilogy was nothing so noble as the overthrow of a totalitarian regime…it was about getting back home to care for her mother and sister. Every single action was motivated by the desire to protect her family.

          1. Mtn Girl says:

            Then why did she, even for a minute, threaten suicide? If she was so interested in protecting her family why did she threaten this, a most selfish act? And even if it was in a weak moment, it was not qualified with the truth of, “what was I thinking?”

          2. CFloyd says:

            ?? Did Katnis “threaten suicide” or just “think” about it? Because there’s a huge difference between thinking suicidal thoughts, – very few if anyone hasn’t at some time thought it would be easier to just die than go through or do whatever is happening in his/her life at the moment or season – and telling people or threatening your are going to kill yourself. Would thinking of dying be something you would apologize for or say, “What was I thinking?” Not if it’s in your own thoughts or mind – of which in this case it was.

            Having what feels like the whole world – your own and each of the one’s you love – on your shoulders, whether that is reality or just your perception, could make a young person feel like dying. Many have killed themselves for a lot less!

            Perhaps the author of this article and you need to consider broadening your view of “heroic”. Especially considering the genre – dystopian – who’s ever really a hero in dystopia? – the whole of the world, the setting, the plot is flawed. Hence the point!

            Collins probably is wanting us to see that a world like this would screw a person like Katnis, who normally would be a person of great character, but her world has given her no real moral compass, no true mentors, and no hopeful culture to inspire strictly straight ethics. She does what seems best and right and good – but only to herself – she also falters and fails with no accountability. She has Peta on one end and Gale on the other. And then, really, she only has herself.

            Collins in making your point! Katnis can’t be a perfect hero in a society and age where there is no true virtue. What age and society are we cultivating? An age with no true truth. We are closer to Katnis than we acknowledge!

            There’s only one unflawed character in all of human history anyway.

    2. Agree pretty much completely.

      I’ve only read the first book so far, but found Katniss to be a much more credible character than Wilson seems to give her credit for.

      She also makes a lot more sense when viewed through the lens of Brandon Sanderson than Lewis. Like Kelsier and Vin (Mistborn) or possibly even more so Kaladin (The Way of Kings), she is a survivor. When we meet her, she’s just trying to stay alive and keep the few people she actually cares about alive (something she has a bit more success with than Kaladin). There’s a lot of room for a character to grow from that point. Some of this happens even in the first book – it makes a point that she didn’t understand Gale’s revolutionary/anti-capitol rhetoric growing up, but by the end of the Games she starts to see what he was getting at. Sanderson takes Vin through a similar transition, to great effect.

      I look forward to reading the other two books when they arrive from the library and seeing what Collins does with the characters.

      1. Ryan says:

        10 points to Michael for the Brandon Sanderson references! Glad I’m not the only fan on the blog.

        1. Barry Westbrook says:

          A Brandon Sanderson reference on the Gospel Coalition?! Say whattt? And your reference to Kaladin is right on (a book I loved).

    3. Cheryl says:

      Thankful for your words Chris. I’m with you on these books too – not with the ND Wilson comments.

    4. Gretchen says:

      Thank you! I completely agree with your assessment, especially regarding the Gladiator comparison. While these books certainly contain a lot of social commentary, the narrative actually has more of a bildungsroman structure; and I think it succeeds admirably in this vein. There is certainly a growth in the character’s understanding of herself and the world around her. I think the ability to “read well” entails reading the story for what it is meant to be, not what you think it should be.

    5. Gencie says:

      I agree very much with you, Chris. The protagonist doesn’t have to be perfect to make it a good fiction story. Katniss is flawed, and as you said, a girl in process. She makes mistakes and learns from them. It’s more realistic this way.

    6. Brady Hardin says:

      You nailed it. Thanks for expressing your feedback. I wholeheartedly agree.

    7. Jason S says:

      I agree with this completely. I think that Wilson misses the whole point. Well said

    8. Paola says:

      Thank you! I agree and I am so glad you wrote this… Before someone writes a review like this, they should read all the books and understand the whole story.

      1. I read all three books and as I read Wilson’s remarks here, I was nodding my head the whole time.


        I hated Katniss in book three. She was either asleep or whining the whole time. Her little sister was wiser and stronger. And then katniss blows away the civilian and you realize that, yes, the book is about the Ugly American in the Middle East, and you’ve known that all along, but now you see that’s ALL it’s about. It’s about war. It’s about the brutalities of war, and there is no hero. There can be no hero, because we have met the enemy and he is us.

        The one who should have been the hero ends up in sitting in a rocking chair for months on end because war is hell. Sh** happens and then you die.

        Besides that, book three read like a violent video game on steroids. The world-building was so poor, and who could believe all those stupid traps and all the death and gore. People kept dying and no one had a chance to grieve because the character we were supposed to relating to didn’t ever stop to grieve. She just whined and slept and fell into comas and woke up after the action was over.

        For all that, I didn’t see the things the ND Wilson saw in book one as I read it. When I read this post, though, I saw it clearly and thought I should have known all the way back in book one that Katniss could never be a hero.

        1. CFloyd says:

          Every story isn’t a hero story. 1984 doesn’t have a hero, Lord of the Flies doesn’t have a hero. The point is the society or the war, or whatever social commentary the author is making. Book 3 read very violent and sad to me as well, my first reading. But when I read it through the second time, I found a lot more consistency with the 1st book, and a more satisfiying end. She’s “whining” because we only hear her thoughts and actions. We’re all whines or complainers – it’s just most of our dialogue is internal.

    9. rebecca says:

      well said

      1. Anne says:

        I’ve never read the books, but from what I’ve heard, I really don’t think a responsible parent should allow children or impressionable teens to read them. There are many books that are fitting for adults, but due to the character flaws, violence, or otherwise negative ideas they are not fitting for a younger, more impressionable mind. They may feature protagonists that are not good role models, but in cases that may be the point of the book– to focus the main attention on circumstances surrounding a flawed, less-than-perfect human being, which is what every person is to begin with. What is Fight Club? A well-thought out, brilliantly written cult classic novel featuring violence, one that should never be read by children. Every adult I’ve met who’s read it has loved it, and none of them have the desire to be involved in anything remotely resembling the plot of the story. For that matter, I’ve never had the tendency to use the protagonists in books that I read as an example of how to live my life. I am an adult and I prefer sci-fi– but that doesn’t mean that I’m following the example of my favorite protagonists, and in fact, I’m not the least bit interested in the working field of science itself, but I enjoy the read and the escape from my own reality. I personally have no desire at all to read the Hunger Games, but a book is the creation of the author and what they would like to get across, and adult readers may chose to read it or not, depending on their literary taste. Children and teens should most likely have a bit of supervision on the books they pick up.

        1. Luann says:

          Just curious…do you allow your impressionable children and teens to read the Bible? It’s filled with flawed, unredemptive characters!

          1. Comparing Hunger Games to the Bible and saying that if we allow children to read the one then we should allow them to read the other? Really? Is that your well thought out response and grid for parenting?

            1. Judith Alexander says:

              No one was saying that to read one means to read the other, they were saying you can’t fault a book’s central message because some of it’s core characters are flawed.

        2. Cheryl says:

          I don’t think it’s fair to publically critize something you’ve never read. If you choose to not read these books or allow your children to read them based on this review, I am sad. But if you pass on criticism of something you’ve never read I am perturbed. It is like the athiest who refuses to study the Bible but spreads his beliefs.

          1. Not fair to publicly criticize something you’ve never read? Really? Does that mean for me to publicly condemn pornography, I have to watch it? How about 50 Shades of Grey? Should I read that before I publicly warn people not to read it? As a pastor, I often need to warn people about dangerous and toxic books, movies, etc. and I have absolutely no intention of reading them all just to prove that I have. I do read some things that are bad, but some things really don’t deserve the investment of my time. I’m not saying for sure that Hunger Games falls into this category, but some things do. It’s just a flawed model to say that one must read, watch, listen to something before one can publicly criticize it.

            1. Judith Alexander says:

              Wow, you sound pretty mean for a preacher. I don’t think I’d want to hear you preach.

          2. CFloyd says:

            Comparing pornography and The Hunger Games is the flawed model. You are equating teen fiction to immoral sin and obamination.

            Yes, especially as a pastor who is responsible for what he dissiminates to God’s people, you should read what you are going to tell them is so horrible, or watch something before declaring it sin. I didn’t watch Brucy Almighty for years just based on the commercials and Jim Carry. But it is a GREAT movie for Christians and those on the fence.

            Every story doesn’t have to be “perfect” to have value. Luann’s point was based on YOUR arguement: don’t read THG because it has flawed and unredemptive characters. So, so does the Bible. Yes one is the Holy Word of God, but in that precious word, God used as a** to tell the prophet what’s what. God can and does use secular, flawed, stories and people to speak or reveal lessons: The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. No, he’s not going to use pornography. But yes, he can and has used THG. If you don’t like it, that’s what’s still great about the mostly free country we still live in. But I don’t have to have a religious reason to defend MY reading of it, or defense of it as good and useful literature.

            It is filled with more lesson than Gladiator! :)

          3. JD says:

            Jason Van Bummel, as a fellow Christian, I’d like to encourage you to be more gracious in your responses when others don’t agree with you. Your comments sound very belittling and when I read you are a pastor, I found myself sincerely hoping that you don’t respond to the members of your congregation in the same tone when they don’t agree with you, or express a different opinion.

    10. Crafty Mama says:

      Interesting thoughts, Chris. The problem is, young adults and children need role models in their stories.

      Character flaws are necessary in a story, because young people need to see how the characters overcome their flaws. However, if the author entertains the flaws for too long, or even glorifies them, young adults start to accept these flaws to the point that they believe the flaws are good, or even beneficial to the characters.

      Children and young adults have no problem displaying their own flaws and have only just reached the stages in their lives where they feel like they may be able to work on or overcome their flaws. They need to see people their age working through their problems. If the only thing they remember about a character is their murderous tendencies or how they only looked out for themselves, they will become numb to those bad qualities and, even if they don’t display those qualities themselves, will be more accepting of them in their peers.

      We’ve got far too many stories on the market with bad character examples. In fact, all you have to do these days is turn on the news for a story about murder and mayhem. Every target market — whether teens, children, or adults — needs more stories with characters making the right decisions. The bottom line is Hunger Games will only leave you hungering for more.

      1. Patrick says:

        Again, this is Dystopian Literature.

        1. CFloyd says:

          Name one person in the Bible who wasn’t flawed or from a flawed family in the Bible. Why would God give us all these flawed characters to learn character from? All have sinned and fall short. And this book offers many redemptive opportunities on character.

          She’s “selfish” because she’s the one writing the story! Of course she’s going to seem self-centered – we only hear and see through her eyes. We’re hearing her honest thoughts and thought processes. What if the story had been painted through Peeta’s eyes? Would he have seemed selfish only ever looking out for Katniss because of HIS love for her and not humanity at large?

          Jesus died for his great love. Peeta is a representative of unconditional sacrficial love and not being hot-headed – that is insulting Wilson boils him down to a wuss basically. How many men would be offended at that!

          This story is not flawed to the core – because the core is not only dystopic, but satirical. Another whole point missed apparently by the prejudice of Wilson and this blog author. This is a treatise on US: OUR hunger for violence as entertainment, OUR sacrfice of our children so we may amuse ourselves, OUR giving up our republic for ‘bread and circuses”. Our fixation on vanity. Hunger Games is not the dribble Twilight or Potter is.

          Collins is a Catholic, and therefore some of her worldview is in play: Peeta = bread, also called a “rock” by Katniss, his hands bleed from her transgression against him, in the last scene of the last book “faith” (trusting each other “grow together again”), hope (the dandelions) and love are all pesent – and love being the greatest of the things that remained after all the fighting. No, this isn’t a Chrisitan novel but there are elements to discuss – which is what good books should do – bring out discussion.

          This analysis by Wilson is flawed to the core! :)

          1. Victoria says:


            Yes! You nailed it here and in your other posts! I think we need to meet :)
            Nate fails to note the redemptive themes and the masterful use of the dystopian genre to weave the real lessons of history with our own culture’s repeat of Rome’s panem et circenses! Its disheartening to see so many people miss Collins message as a clarion call to a culture boiling like the proverbial frog!

            For those who don’t write pompous and sneering reviews, THG games can awaken the frog to the ashes of our own freedom, the ongoing march toward a police state in America (one of the latest things coming down the pike in our city is our new government issued trash cans will have microchips in them to monitor our trash habits!), the fascination with reality tv, etc. You are so right-those who decry the “violence to children” and yet are blind to Toddler beauty pageants, abortion for young girls without parental consent, and naked images of our children in airports are sadly ignorant and are culpable in furthering the demise our country faces.

            Yes, you are absolutely right about Maximus! I agree, Nate’s review is scathing and not insightful.

            Trevin Wax, if you read these comments, I urge you to reconsider that there are people who trust the Gospel Coaliton. Thus you have a responsibility to identify a biased rant before recommending it to your readers. There are far better analyses out there by authors who know history, the usefulness of dystopian literature, and what Collins intent was in writing the series.

          2. Shana Shivers says:

            CFloyd, you hit the nail on the head.

      2. Anne says:

        I’ve never read the books, but from what I’ve heard, I really don’t think a responsible parent should allow children or impressionable teens to read them. There are many books that are fitting for adults, but due to the character flaws, violence, or otherwise negative ideas they are not fitting for a younger, more impressionable mind. They may feature protagonists that are not good role models, but in cases that may be the point of the book– to focus the main attention on circumstances surrounding a flawed, less-than-perfect human being, which is what every person is to begin with. What is Fight Club? A well-thought out, brilliantly written cult classic novel featuring violence, one that should never be read by children. Every adult I’ve met who’s read it has loved it, and none of them have the desire to be involved in anything remotely resembling the plot of the story. For that matter, I’ve never had the tendency to use the protagonists in books that I read as an example of how to live my life. I am an adult and I prefer sci-fi– but that doesn’t mean that I’m following the example of my favorite protagonists, and in fact, I’m not the least bit interested in the working field of science itself, but I enjoy the read and the escape from my own reality. I personally have no desire at all to read the Hunger Games, but a book is the creation of the author and what they would like to get across, and adult readers may chose to read it or not, depending on their literary taste. Children and teens should most likely have a bit of supervision on the books they pick up and it is the responsibility of their parents to see that they are reading literature fitting for their respective ages.

        1. Cheryl says:

          Please don’t let your children read Sampson’s story, David’s story, Moses’ story, Judah’s story, The book of Ezekiel, the minor prophets, Hosea.

          1. Autumn says:

            I am literally shocked that you are comparing a Godless, secular novel with the Holy Bible! The “flawed” characters in the Bible point to the redeeming power of Christ. How in the world does that compare to Katniss Everdeen? And mind you, I HAVE read all 3 books….. I just can’t understand so many grown adult men and women just fawning over and defending this series so vehemently! WOW…..

      3. Chris says:

        Crafty Mama, let me clarify. I see how somebody could read my previous comment as if I mean to defend the novels themselves on their merits. That’s not my point. They are not great novels …
        “better than average,” maybe “very good”, but not truly great. I meant primarily to disagree with Wilson’s assessment of Katniss as a character. In that way, I agree with you that she’s NOT a positive role model for kids. So much of her is not just non-Christian, but anti-Christian. But I would not prohibit my eldest daughter (11yo) from reading THG.

        The reason I can let her read a book like THG (but maybe not Book 3 because of the graphic violence) is that kids do not absorb media as uncritical sponges, and I’m not sure whether you mean to say they do, but they don’t. Though we should certainly be careful the things to which we allow our children to have prolonged exposure (and in some cases any exposure at all), there are lots of things we (my wife and I) allow our kids to read/ watch to which “white picket fence” Christians may object. The reason we (again, our family policy, not our command to the other families of the world) can be somewhat permissive is that kids aren’t reading/ watching/ listening to media alone in a vacuum. We as parents have a great deal of responsibility to discuss things with our kids … in great depth. There are TONS TONS TONS of places in THG to jump off into conversations with a pre-teen about the gospel of Jesus Christ. My children’s friends are reading these books. It looks to me like a no-brainer.

        It’s precisely Katniss’s badness as a person that would allow us to have conversations with our daughter about how much like her we are naturally, and how even though she changed some, she remained a hopeless sinner because she didn’t know Jesus, and that because we do know Jesus, we cannot be like Katniss. So, we let our kids read stuff not because it’s “clean”, but because we know we’re going to talk it out before, during, and after they read it. It’s what we’ve done with all 7 Harry Potter books. So far, my daughter has read a little of THG, but lost interest in it. Maybe that says something about its quality. Not everything written for young adults can be The Wingfeather Saga (sadly).

        Ironically enough, my eldest daughter is currently reading 100 Cupboards.

        1. Mtn Girl says:

          Chris, you have suddenly done an about-face. In your first commentary, you praise Katniss for her being human, without qualifying that she is a bad role model; now you seem to change your position. You can’t have it both ways — at once praising her and condemning her.

    11. JR says:

      Chris, excellent comments. Thanks for writing them. I was very taken back with Nate’s review and also thought he was way, way off base. Another example is when he tried to paint Gladiator in a positive light as juxtaposed to The Hunger Games. In my opinion, this highlights a severe bias in the review. Russell Crowe’s character played by the barbarous gladiator rules just like everyone else, killing plenty of other gladiators, long before he ‘spared’ the ruler from his lethal sword. It seems to me that Mr. Wilson has approached this book from a particular worldview, and that just might be the one that started out with ax to grind. He COMPLETELY misunderstands Katniss!

    12. George says:

      This is what I wanted to say, but even better.

    13. Ellie says:

      Chris, I’m surprised that you would say that Katniss evolves into a revolutionary character. I have to wonder if we read the same book “Mockingjay”? After reading these books last year, I lamented to my husband how disappointed I was in this character who devolved into a psychologically unstable, cowering, reckless, unprincipled pawn of the “revolution.” She hid under piles of coats in a closet, for heaven’s sake! She was only a figurehead for the people who wanted to overthrow Panem… the people who were really no better than the ones already in power. Yet, she harbored no real conviction to see a moral government in place- and please don’t count her last-second decision to shoot her arrow at Coin- the whole idea of her, the figurehead, executing Snow publicly should have gone against the ideals of a principled heroine, but she simply wasn’t. She just acted, apart from any personal conviction and only performed actions that she was thrust into by the powers that be, from beginning to end. Further, one can’t claim that she was revolutionary while declaring that she was only in it for her sister/family. These dueling motivations cannot exist together in this character; she is EITHER a revolutionary heroine OR the do-anything-to-save-the-familial-skin pawn. She was certainly the latter.

      1. Shana Shivers says:

        So real people never have mixed motives? She comes to realize she’s a pawn, and does the best she can in a horrible situation. Like my husband said, it is as if Mr. Wilson wants a Lucy from Narnia to come out of North Korea having had no England or Aslan.

      2. I disliked her so much in Mockingjay. I thought the whole point of that book was to show that even the good guys are bad guys.

        1. CFloyd says:

          Oh, I got “even good guys can be broken”. Gale ending up doing anything for any cost to see the “rebels” triumph, was always under the surface. Peeta never really became a “bad” guy. Katniss fell into the trap of letting revenge be her guide from Rue’s death forward. And in reality, she never was a “good guy” as in, likeable, she was always short and to the point, not personable except with Prim. Peeta brings out things in her as does the Hunger Games – both good and bad.

          And District 13 were never the good guys – the point of having “Coin” as their head – 13 was just the other side of the Panem coin. Where Panem was all lavishness, 13 is all minimalism and military. They just used the other discticts desire to get out from under Panem to take over.

          But Katniss made a third option. Collins is saying we need a third option instead of always cycling through the other two.

          And with the end being prophesied by Katniss in bk, 2, Collins is saying their end will be different. For a while. I savored bk 2 and 3 much better after my second reading.

          1. EMSoliDeoGloria says:

            Cheryl, you clearly “get” the books in a way ND Wilson and some of the other commenters don’t. Maybe some disagree with the dystopian genre period… but that’s a little like saying all rap music is evil.

            Collins captures the bleakness of a child caught in an evil world, raising herself and her sister the best she can. Heroes don’t emerge everywhere there is evil – often bad only makes worse. Witness the evil of children forced to be soldiers for selfish warlords. Sure, maybe the right thing to do is say “kill me now because I won’t kill for you” but that’s not usually what happens and that’s not Katniss either.

          2. My question is this: Is this bleak view reality? So often people who write “edgy” fiction say they want darkness because darkness is real. They diss Elsie Dinsmore. Well, OK Elsie is diss-worthy. But darkness is not reality, either. Reality is Christ victorious. So all these books with no redemption and no hero are not accurately portraying the world. The dark part of the world is just a vapor that is passing away. Why do so many people find angst and darkness profound?

    14. truzzi says:

      But Katniss doesn’t grow into a revolutionary character, she grows into a political character, pulled and pushed this way and that by politicians who end up no better than the people they worked so hard to depose.

      1. Chris says:

        I get what you’re saying (as well as Ellie above), but this is part of Collins’s point: revolutionaries (as much as they would refuse to admit it) are already or very soon will become simply politicians in the New (old) Order they’re seeking to establish. I guess I should have used mockery-quotation-marks: Katniss eventually grows into a “revolutionary” character.

    15. schieftain says:

      I agree.

      I don’t see Katniss as turning into a evil, murderous person in the games. She’s not an epic hero in the classic sense, or a great role model, but she continually thinks/talks about how horrible the whole thing is. She’s repulsed by the killing, and really doesn’t want to be part of it. She doesn’t give into it and become an cold-hearted barbarian like her competitors. She really cares for Rue. Later, when Thresh is killed, she displays dejection over someone who could have been a friend back home. Almost all of her actions are defensive, not offensive. When she does go after the Career Tributes, she takes out their food supply, she doesn’t hunt them down with malice, she uses her brain to survive. She calls the deaths “murders”. She drops the wasp nest on the ones trying to kill her as she has no other weapons, and this is after they’ve chased her up a tree and shot arrows at her. The suicide threat is a choice she and Peeta both make, rather than kill each other (not a great option, but it’s in opposition to killing him).

      Could she refuse to play? That’s the million-dollar question. In Katniss’s mind, she can’t not play the game, or break the rules, cut out her locator, etc… because she thinks her family will suffer the consequences. She’s continually thinking of how her absence will mean starvation or other horrible consequences for her mother and Prim, as she is the main provider for her family. She feels like the powers-in-charge have her family hostage, so she has to do what they want her to do. Probably, most people would do the same thing. Now, if a believer were put in that game… maybe they would choose not to play at all, and take what comes. I think this is the choice missionaries make, and what we should all be willing to make every day in going against the flow of our culture. What about the Christian in a hostile country, who’s family is being held hostage unless they recant their faith? Do they always stand firm? Did Peter when he felt like his life was in danger just for being associated with Jesus? How can we expect a non-Christain teenage girl to stand against the system if she thinks her family will suffer for it? Maybe a Christian author would have written it differently as an aspirational role model, but as a portrait of real human nature (and this is where the writer of the GC article criticizes Collins for being off-mark), I don’t think Katniss is so far from reality.

      In Gladiator, the hero had no family. They had already killed his family, he had nothing to lose. If a real teenage girl was thrust into a situation like this, how would she should act? I haven’t read the follow-up books yet, but from what I know, the Hunger Games is the first in a series of steps whereby Katniss becomes a revolutionary. Real revolutionaries might not all bloom as fast as we would like them too, some take time to grow and become the epic hero we like to see in books and movies (which even then is not necessarily reality).

      I don’t think this is a good book for kids to read and find a role model in, but as a study of human nature, I don’t see it as being that far off reality as this article makes it out to be.

      1. Mtn Girl says:

        “She’s continually thinking of how her absence will mean starvation or other horrible consequences for her mother and Prim, as she is the main provider for her family. She feels like the powers-in-charge have her family hostage, so she has to do what they want her to do.”

        Then why does she consider suicide if she’s so interested in saving her family? You seem to miss the point that the author of this review is making — she is portrayed as heroic and self-sacrificing, when in reality she is extremely selfish and anything but heroic.

        1. Peggy LeDuc says:

          Maybe I should go back to the books but it seemed very clear to me that Katniss and Peeta did not so much consider suicide as gamble on the Capital’s need for a victor. At this point she also seemed to have a very strong disinclination to murder Peeta, who had saved her several times over. Tough decision… what would you have done?

          It is true that Katniss is no “hero” in the usual sense. But it is amazing to me that the character of Katniss is thought to be a bad role model. Through her actions (though her thoughts are sometimes conflicted as it is in our sinful natures to be…) she shows love of family, sacrifice, chastity, hard work, ingenuity, responsibility, bravery and mercy. Of course, she is not perfect (only HE is perfect). What she is, primarily, is a child in a horrific environment and situation, trying to ensure the survival of herself and more importantly, her family. When my children are old enough (I would say mid-teens) I would not have a problem with then reading THG and having a good discussion afterward.

    16. EMSoliDeoGloria says:

      I think you are right, Bill & schieftan. She isn’t a hero. The series is a postmodern critique on entertainment, excess, and civil government.

      Katniss isn’t supposed to be what ND Wilson describes in his heroic alternate plot. That may be a good – even a better – story, but it isn’t the one Collins has written. Katniss is a pawn – a pawn with a few good instincts and lots of bad ones. She doesn’t understand herself or others very well. She is used by the Capitol and by the revolutionaries, who are just as bad in a different direction.

      It’s a story of flawed humanity and there is no Savior in the trilogy. There is brokenness but little in the way of redemption to be seen. Diss the theory if you will, but Peeta is the closest thing to a hero. He rejects the premise of the games and wants to survive, but not at the cost of killing. No, he’s not a macho superhero but he is gentle, kind, perceptive and honest – he is becoming a man of character. She is deeply flawed and, while growing as a character, remains so throughout the story. Her situation is foreign but she is not a “larger than life” heroine. She’s certainly not Elsie Dinsmore.

      When, at last, Katniss finds love and has the courage to start a family, we see her begin to soften emotionally – which may be the best development of all for her character. Being a mom is the closest she gets to being a real hero and that’s only because she actually learns to accept and return Peeta’s love for her, not merely to discharge a debt, but as one broken person to another.

      1. CFloyd says:

        “… but as one broken person to another.” – WHAT WHAT??? Awesome, that is a FANTASTIC take on Katniss in the end. She DOES accept and return Peeta’s love for her – not merely to discharge a debt – one of those long-arching themes or motifs throughout the series.

        Loved this description.

    17. AnnaKate says:

      Amen. A lot of people take this as a books series where the author wanted to paint a black-and-white picture of good and evil, whereas truly, her intention was to show the infecting poison and power of war and wrong thinking into everyone’s lives.

      So it Katniss and Peeta and Gale aren’t exactly heroes. They’re examples of what evil does to the world. I’m surprised someone as insightful as ND Wilson could so utterly miss the point of this series. Did he read the books?

    18. Cheerio says:

      I agree that an unwilling, unprepared individual would struggle, Katniss was afraid every second of her life. Fear can be crippling to the heart and bones. Is every heroic character charming, sophisticated and superman like, definitely not. The hunger games is an unbearable world of fear, chaos, propaganda and survival. Not much would be pretty and so properly packaged, and in most cases heroes are so few ( think of the studies done about those who watch and do nothing/freeze as chaos unfolds right before their eyes).
      Christianity is the author of humanity, love for others, compassion and action, I think many characters had these normal human emotions.
      A successful book series and movie doesn’t sound like bad writing to me.
      The story is brilliant, most of it sad and disgusting but the struggle is penetrating, divisive and a possible realization. I read it more as non-fiction and historic than sci-fi.
      Truth can be stranger and more evil than fiction on so many levels. I think this is an example of a winner. It is thought-provoking, unpredictable, unbelievably motivating and profound. The movie is actually quite good as well. Can’t wait to see the next movie as I have not read the last book yet.

  5. Victoria says:

    Some good points but some of your logic is “flawed to the core”.

    Disarm a boy trying to kill her and hide him? You wrongly assume that none of the tributes really wanted to kill and would welcome any opportunity to avoid it. Not so. The career tributes signed up for the games-they enjoyed killing and were ruthless, negating your claim that all the kids were innocents. You are right, the totalitarian state is the real enemy, but there were real enemies, real murderers in the arena too. The ONLY way your gladiator analogy would work is if all 24 tributes refused to participate in the games. This is true for any scenario of totalitarian rule-the police state is evil, but there are plenty of people who will support the regime and will kill their fellow citizens.

    “Immoral rules”? and “sustained, radical, murderous self interest. Wow.
    I certainly hope folks who haven’t read the book don’t rely on those gross misrepresentations. Katniss only killed in self defense until the mercy killing at the end, which was immoral, but certainly not anywhere close to how you present it.

    Wow again regarding “dropping tracker jackers on sleeping kids? Negativo.” This kind of rhetoric reveals that you have projected your own visceral disdain onto the book. You failed to mention (and apparently understand) that Katniss was treed by a group of career tributes who were bloodthirsty and eager to kill her if she climbed down. Her action was self defense, not “murderous self interest”.

    You seem proud of making your friend, Tom Wolfe, blink-I hope he and other readers will read for themselves and not rely on this or any other biased commentary (there is at least one Christian review that warns that the book has gratuitous sex, when in reality, there is none at all). And I hope that you will take a second look and consider that your assessment of the plot beats are misleading.

    1. Brady Hardin says:

      Great thoughts. I agree. I also fail to see the murderous self-interest of Katniss.

    2. JR says:

      Yes, great thoughts, with the exception that “the mercy killing at the end was immoral”. I disagree with you there.

    3. CFloyd says:

      Yes, yes, and yes. There is a prejudice to this review, and it is not based on knowing or being a great fiction writer.

      I HATED Gladiator and was shocked that a bunch of pastors and Christians from my church thought it was great. It was all PAGAN.

      Gladiator had no point being poked at society as Hunger Games does.

    4. Anne says:

      My first thought on the Gladiator remark was simply that, if there had indeed been an instance where 20,000 people (and an emperor) were commanding one slave to kill another and the one slave dropped the sword in refusal, reality would have it that both slaves would be put to death. Fight to the death was the entire point of the REAL gladiator fights, that ACTUALLY happened in REAL Roman history. The refusal on the part of the one slave only wins the 20,000 over in Hollywood, so in a hypothetical but more realistic scene, the slave is left with the choice of: dropping the sword and both losing their lives, or killing the other slave and staying alive. If the writer of this review would imagine himself in the place of that slave in a REALISTIC, non-cinematic setting, I’m pretty sure I can accurately guess what his next course of action would be. So the novelist does not have the right to create a realistic scene?
      Considering the way the movie industry endlessly butchers literature by changing the gory details to a shiny happy ending fit for the emotional state of the average viewer(Pinnochio? Breakfast at Tiffany’s?), comparing a novel of one genre to a movie of another genre makes absolutely no sense.

    5. Maja says:

      Totally agree. I never got the impression that Katniss had a desire to seek out anyone and murder them- just as it showed in her relief that she didn’t have to kill Rue. And by the third book, in my assessment, she was living in constant torment from all of the killing she had participated in. To me, that doesn’t seem like “murderous self interest”, more like undesired guilt resulting from a game she was forced to participate in, or lose herself and everyone she loved.

  6. Erik says:

    “When an author profoundly misunderstands human societies, arbitrarily forcing a group or a character into decisions and actions that they would never choose for themselves”…

    then it’s called “fiction”.

    1. Victoria says:

      Yep- its also called dystopian fiction. Collins assuredly understands human societies and history -it seems that Wilson does not. Its disappointing to see this type of review on this site and from someone with Wilson’s credentials.
      I read recently that TGH is a blend of 1984 and Amusing Ourselves to Death. Now, THAT was brilliant.

      1. J.B. Wilson says:

        Victoria, that last comparison just blew my mind. Brilliant, indeed!

        1. CFloyd says:

          Amen, I thought the same thing about characters not acting like they should. A work of fiction – book or movie – irritates me when the characters do not acting according the world in which they are placed – not my world, or this world.

          Good for Wilson he would have cut out his tracer – 1) a mutt would have been sent in straight away to kill him. 2) if he made it far enough to “save” someone else by doing the same thing see number 1. You can’t just Rambo your way through someone else’s world. You have to operate in it according to ITS rules.

          Gale might have tried all that, but Katniss is pictured from the beginning only wanting to get along. Rue was her real turning point. That was when she wanted to challenge the Capitol and the Games.

          Correct me if I am wrong, will be happy to be, but I thought I remember Maximus not rebelling UNTIL he waas well-liked and actually had the personal power to challenge the system – isn’t that right? He didn’t do it the first time in the ring. If he had refused to fight the first time – the people wouldn’t have loved him at all, they would have cried for his gorey death by lion, or machine. Same with Katniss. She knew from years of conditioning that the audience had to have what entertained them. If she had done as Wilson suggests, she would have been taken out by fire or mutt. But, once she did gain an audience, once Maximus did gain the crowd, THEN they could use their personal power – and they did. To their own and their loved ones danger.

          The review is just scathing, not insightful. I am also sad with you all for anyone who reads this and decides not to read the books or let their children.

  7. Colby says:

    While I found the remarks somewhat insightful, there are are a couple of basic flaws with Nate’s analysis of The Hunger Games series.

    First, he presumes to understand some things about the author’s aim in crafting Katniss’ character trajectory that I am not sure the author had as her aim. If we take the author’s stated intention for the series of exploring the way in which war effects the development of children, it makes sense of some of the choices Collin’s makes in the development of the plot. I think it is a fair observation of reality (and the human condition) that given the world we live in and our human limitations in properly processing what we experience we often end up quite conflicted. Katniss has no intention of being a revolutionary, she simply loves her sister. She has grown up in a world that has tried to make the idea of the hunger games acceptable, because of this we see her not examining the implications of this idea fully. The whole series she is undergoing a transformation to ultimately rejecting the idea of even foisting the Hunger Games on her worst enemy. I am simply saying that Collins’ goals in shaping Katniss seem to be different than what Nate presumes they are here.

    Second, Wilson presumes that Collins is using Katniss as the primary inspiration for beginning a revolution. He ignores the fact that the real story develops with Katniss a pawn in the broader plot that is being produced by a whole host of factors leading to revoltuion. I think it is true of reality that a people prepared for revolution will accept a very conflicted revolutionary symbol because their hunger is so great to throw off the oppressor. I think this is what we see in The Hunger Games.

    There are certainly things that Katniss could have done in the arena to be more noble, but human beings are not pure and noble. Creating such a picture is not the goal Collins seems to be after and for this reason Wilson’s analysis fails to really help uncover what makes the story work.

    1. Victoria says:

      “Katniss has no intention of being a revolutionary, she simply loves her sister.” “I think it is true of reality that a people prepared for revolution will accept a very conflicted revolutionary symbol because their hunger is so great to throw off the oppressor. I think this is what we see in The Hunger Games.”

      Good points! I read somewhere that Collins’ father suffered from Post-war syndrome and you can see how blurred lines of morality in war lead to that in Mockingjay.
      I think what Wison wanted to see in THG was a principled leader of a r3volution-a hero to look to, and in so doing, he completely missed the point.

    2. Brady Hardin says:

      “There are certainly things that Katniss could have done in the arena to be more noble, but human beings are not pure and noble. Creating such a picture is not the goal Collins seems to be after and for this reason Wilson’s analysis fails to really help uncover what makes the story work.”

      Could not have said it better. Great insight; I completely agree.

    3. CFloyd says:

      I love your point about being a pawn. First she’s the Games’ pawn, then Haymiches, then Snow’s, then District 13’s.

      The moment she becomes a “real” revolutionary is when she shoots Coin.

      1. Brandy says:

        Interesting you should bring this up. I was left with the impression when she shot Coin she was still being used as a pawn. After all, the people who took over after Coin’s death were the owes who allowed her to have the motivating conversation with Snow in the first place. Yes, she made the decision herself but I believe it is the one others intended for her to make.

      2. George says:

        Good point. I’d have to agree about Coin. She somewhat outsmarts the Games/Capitol with the berries, but acts on her own terms and regardless of the consequences against herself when she shoots Coin. Of course, Haymitch probably knew she was going to do it.

      3. Seth says:

        When I was reading this, all I read was “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, of the blah blah blah blah. And the characters are all blah blah. If all the tributes would have been blah blah.”

        The point is : it has no point. I totally don’t agree with you on this one, WIlson.

        Second, Katniss was not miserable when Rue was killed by Marvel. Katniss thinks Rue is so much alike her sister.

        Third, Katniss’s flames (or her “being the rebel”) was developing as the plot goes. She was a poor girl when she was sent to the 74 hungher games.

        And Last, Katniss is not evil. She was just being the piece on the games until she understood what peeta said about Peeta not liking as the piece of the Hunger Games.

        Thus, this review is flawed. Realy flawed. Not the book. Wilson, your review is biased.

    4. Laura says:

      I found this assessment of Hunger Games by ND Wilson ironic as I just put away ‘dandelion fire’ desciding it was a little over the top with warlocks for my 9 y/o son. We were reading it aloud. We finished ‘Cupboards’, but should have stopped there. Back to subject. I comment here on Colby’s original thread because I too think it was not Katniss character that got it started. She was a pawn. The story is layered. And yes a visceral page turner. I first didn’t want to read them but every intelligent friend I had said I had to– I’d be missing something unique. Something truly thought provoking. I had to admit they were right when I read all three in the time of a week/an active homeschool week. But I found myself asking the deeper questions. I think Nate W is wrong about his summation. I didn’t read the twilight series, as it was, well, a vampire soap-opera. But I think he perhaps didn’t want to jump on the hunger games bandwagon– like most who consider themselves to be ‘well-read’ or at least trying to rise above the popular swill on the market. It’s a well-written (until book 3) futuristic, yes-grisly-, story and it definitely made me think.

      1. Well, I agree that book 3 was poorly written.

        I don’t know Wilson, but I don’t know why you would guess he didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. Why not just take his words at face value?

        People here are saying he missed Collins’s point, but I don’t think he was addressing her point.

        I think he was saying that Collins manipulated the characters to make her point.

        1. Laura says:

          I don’t kow Wilson either, but based on an interview I heard on ‘Lunch with Leigh’ (Bortins of Classical Conversations)and the fact that he sat at the feet academically and in the family of Douglas Wilson, I think he could probably intellectually argue this with one part of his brain behind his back. But I think he contradicts himself in this. Before I read the books I thought and expressed my concern for books like the Hunger Games. I read all kinds of secular literature, but grisly teen killing novels didn’t entice me. I really don’t like Sci-Fi either. (I’m not well read, but I don’t limit my reading to Christian literature, as many christians might) It just seems he’s contradicting himself when he tells us …”There is more to say, but I’ve said enough. Well, almost. One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades.” I thought the book was brilliant. Perhaps not a particularly challenging book, but it made me think about how far America could go into the depths of dystopic symptoms. It made me think of what I’d do. What moral choices I’d make. And to what point I have personally already sunken into our societies version of ‘tesserae’. It seems to me this is exactly what Wilson doesn’t think we should do. That this book is ‘beneath’ that, but even Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, (which I’ve never read) has lasted the time. Which he ‘threw against the wall.’ I think he just doesn’t like them. I liked them because they did make me think. And as much as I disdain the over-the-top gore factor, I thought they were something worth the time I spent reading… at least books 1 & 2. I skimmed 3. Her method of writing seemed predictable, where there would be a violent moment of consequence that would change the dynamic. It was easy to skim. I did miss the pivotal point tho of Katniss’ sister’s demise. Just my thoughts, not well written, but In my humble opinion.
          One thought more. I really don’t see the link between the authors he mentioned in comparison. C.S. Lewis? Although his writing is far superior in quality, the characters it would seem did just exactly what you described, perhaps manipulated the characters, developed them, perhaps not as well, …
          Again, just my thoughts.

          1. CS Lewis didn’t manipulate his characters to preach. The changes they made were believable, I thought. I wanted Susan to go to Narnia. She didn’t go. I was OK with that. Interestingly many nonChristians were not OK with that. Neil Gaiman was so disturbed he wrote a disgusting short story in protest.

            So maybe we only preached at when the guy doing the preaching has a message that is different from ours. For whatever reason, I didn’t think Katniss was believable in book three.

  8. J.B. Wilson says:

    I couldn’t disagree with Wilson more. Collins does understand humanity, thus the ultimate survival of the fittest scenario makes perfect sense. Of course Katniss would give up her life for her sister, who is her own flesh and blood. But that does not mean that she would willingly lay down her life for others. I’m afraid Mr. Wilson doesn’t really understand humanity as he seems to imply. I will agree with him though that the Christian compulsion to scavenge for “redemptive themes” in every literary genre, including Hunger Games, is a bit ridiculous.

  9. Karen Butler says:

    “When an author profoundly misunderstands human societies, arbitrarily forcing a group or a character into decisions and actions that they would never choose for themselves given the preceding narrative”…

    It is also called a very bad critique of fiction. It is ND Wilson here profoundly misunderstanding Collins’ vision of the Panem society, and Katniss’ action, and imposing on the story a Christian worldview that they would never choose for themselves given the preceeding narrative. What Victoria and Chris and Matthew L. all said–this review is flawed to the core.

    It drives me bonkers. If I could throw this review across the room, I would.

    1. Karen Butler says:

      Wait, there’s more, because Wilson “bundles clumsy offenses…in Costco bulk” like this next gaffe, in his review:

      “But the world doesn’t work that way. Men and women are not inspired to risk their lives in insurrection and defiance by someone reaching for poisonous berries.”

      Mohamed Bouazizi’s single match sparked a revolution all over the world. Google “suicide that sparked a revolution” and you will get 15,000,000 results describing a young man’s last despairing act that inspired the Arab Spring that inspired the ‘Indignados’ that inspired Occupy…I don’t think Wilson understands that the world *does* work this way.

      Or he has been under a rock for a year.

      1. mdk says:

        Please… The Arab Spring merely resulted in furthering the cause of the terrorists and the anti-freedom crowd even more.

        And Occupy was dreamed up, started, and promoted by some very, very radical people who want nothing more than totalitarian regimes to rise from the ashes of our freedom. ( it has been well documented who, what, where, and how, this is NOT fiction, I’ll swear it on the Bible…) If we’re to be a light in the world, that light HAS to include fully understanding those things we choose to comment on as important matters.

        1. Karen Butler says:

          I was merely remarking on the fact that a despairing individual in a dystopian state could ignite rebellion by suicide–not indicating my approval of the Arab Spring, and all that followed.

          My window to edit this comment elapsed–I realized that it did come off as romanticizing Occupy and its antecedents. Which is ironic, as I think Wilson’s Idealism may be the fatal flaw in this review.

    2. PLTK says:

      Very much agree. The reviewer seemed to be imposing his own world view on the story and completely misunderstood much of what happens. To have so missed the mark, my guess is this was written more to garner web traffic then to be a real review.

  10. ChrisB says:

    Interesting piece, but the book actually answers most of these objections. It states bluntly that Katniss wants to win because her family and district will get to not starve for a year. And if she doesn’t play properly, her entire district could be punished for it.

    If anything the best complaint is probably that Katniss reacts instead of acting — until the final scene with the berries. She finally acts, she chooses defiance, and the people respond. Realistic, I don’t know, but it is consistent with the world she created.

  11. Josh says:

    I should say “spoiler alert,” but that should be obvious by my comment length.

    I’d love to know if Nate even read the other books. This statement “If Collins wanted her protagonist to be the kind of rebel who would start a revolution (and she does want that)” makes me wonder. I don’t think that’s what Collins wanted.

    Throughout the books, Katniss is constantly in a struggle against being used, being thrown around by authorities telling her what she should be or who she should be. The stories are more about Katniss (and everyone else, including Gale, Peeta, Prim, Katniss’ mom, everyone) finding out who they are. It’s about the process of finding identity and what one believes in, not about Katniss being a rebel.

    [ anyway, she does mature in book 2 and does far less killing for the sake of killing in the games ]

    She never wants to be the Mockingjay, or at least she never fully enjoys it. The entire series is an internal dialogue about her trying to sort out her feelings about the Games, the Capitol, D13, Gale, Peeta, and everything else. She wants to be herself. That’s why she struggles so much to support D13. If Collins simply wanted Katniss to be a rebellion making character, Katniss would have been in on D13’s plans from the beginning to give her that opportunity…

    Katniss is an accidental revolutionary, an accidental spark, an accidental hit to the Capitol’s armor, that people who really wanted to rebel use to inspire revolution. The revolution was bound to happen with the Games happening every year (hence the secret group of people building up D13 and waiting for the opportunity to rally and strike)…

    It’s even more pronounced throughout Mockingjay with Peeta’s mind completely twisted by the torture he goes through and his struggle to find reality and find who he is. The books end, not with the triumph of a rebellion and a recollection of all the awesomeness that is Katniss the rebel, but with Peeta asking one last time “real or not real”…

    Anyway, that’s why the books work so well for youth (and why old people have such a hard time seeing past the themes of war/revolution). There’s a message of how it’s possible to figure out who you are in a world that tells you who you should be. And old people tend to see this as rebellion, so they lump it all up into Katniss trying to be a rebel against the Capitol when she’s really just a “rebel” (if you want to call it that) against everything, stripping it all away to figure out what she really believes to be right and true.

    That’s what makes Harry Potter good too, by the way. They’re constantly breaking rules and defying authority because the authority is wrong or misinformed.

    And anyway, I’m pretty sure beyond the story of the characters, I read somewhere that Collins said something about wanting to write a book about war and how awful it is. Clearly with so many people in an uproar of the “slaughter” and how horrible the killing is, she’s made her point well.

    As far as Nate’s specific comments:

    On “self-sacrifice”: Katniss’ beliefs are such that she’ll do anything for the people she loves, but she’s also in the business of keeping herself alive. It’s not pure, Jesus-like self-sacrifice, but just because it’s not unconditional doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    On “what if the games were about rape”: First off, how would you even define that? How could you possibly rape someone who’s trying to rape you and decide who is the one being raped vs the one doing the raping? Beyond that, self-defense when being hunted is to kill (or hide, which Katniss spends a lot of time doing–she never initiates combat), but self-defense when being targeted for rape isn’t to rape first…

    If you’re against the idea of being raped, you’re not going to rape someone else… Raping someone when you don’t want to is essentially the same as being raped. The defense against rape is to run or react violently or hide or something else, not to rape first… This example is was thrown in for the shock-effect, but it doesn’t really make much of a point.

    1. Josh says:

      PS As a side note, at least the review made me think and see some things that I hadn’t bothered to think about before. :)

      1. CFloyd says:

        I thought the same thing. Though I disagree with the review, and love all the responses against it, I am glad for the discussion! I am eating up because I-I-I have been Hungry for it! :)

  12. Colby says:

    My hunch is that those who find N.D. Wilson’s analysis so wanting have read all three books in the series. I wonder if Trevin or Wilson have read all three books or are basing the analysis (or appreciation of analysis) on The Hunger Games as a stand alone first installment. My appreciation for the themes grew with each book.

  13. Mitchell says:

    Full disclosure, I have not yet read book 2 of the trilogy; but I have to say, I completely disagree with this assessment of Katniss Everdeen’s character. She is never cast as particularly empathetic, loving, or even “revolutionary.” It seems to me that she is purposefully cast as a detached, self-preserving survivor. She’s not particularly noble. She’s not particularly interested in revolting against the Capitol’s sick games. Even her act of defiance at the end of the games was not motivated by her hatred of the Capitol, but rather by her lack of desire to kill her friend.
    But the viewers of The Hunger Games would have seen it as an act of rebellion against the Gamesmakers. Thus Katniss Everdeen becomes a folk-hero, but not of her own will.

    There are certain points in the book where she is motivated by genuine love, sure. But her primary motivation is self-preservation. I think that’s very clear.

    “Suzanne Collins can write. It’s just that we can’t really read.”

  14. Jim Crigler says:

    Since I re-read A Tale Of Two Cities just before reading The Hunger Games, I found some points of similarity between the two: In Dickens’s France, ordinary people are devalued to the point that a single coin pays for the death of a child; in Panem, no one outside the Capitol has a life considered worth living. In the France, it took “four strong men” to serve the senior (ig)nobleman a cup of chocolate; in Panem the populace is considered to be more-or-less animals for the supply and entertainment of the gaudy. You get the point.

    I also saw parallels to the coming-of-age-under-a-repressive-government science fiction I read as a young teenager, e.g., Heinlein’s Between Planets (though The Hunger Games’s story was a very different one).

    To one Christian theme (though without, I hope, overreaching, and only with reference to the first member of the trilogy), what I see in The Hunger Games is Providence: Who’d’ve thunk that a teenage girl from the most backward place in the country was the one person who could challenge the System.

    There are other themes worth mentioning (perhaps they are tropes, though I don’t read enough YA fiction to make that call), e.g., the girl who doesn’t know about her own beauty.

    When I read the second and third volumes of the trilogy in the next few weeks, I may find more parallels and themes I haven’t read from others, but I won’t know that until I get there.

    One thing I appreciate about N.D. Wilson: at least he reads the books he criticizes. How many excoriations of the Harry Potter series did we hear or read for which the derogator hadn’t even approached the right section of Barnes & Noble?

  15. Leslie says:

    yes, yes, yes!! This is what I was feeling was wrong with the book, but couldn’t put it into words. I kept thinking “why is she responding or acting the way she is, no one would do that”

    1. Cheryl says:

      These people commenting for Hunger Games are NOT passive readers – you can perceive this by their analysis. His reveiw is personal not perspective. Hunger Games IS a book sensitive to the world in which we live – that’s the point! The nay-sayers are the ones who apparently are de-sensitized to our current predicaments that the author is pointing out: violence, wars for power, lose of freedoms, vanity, entertainment, de-humanizing humans by objectification.

      Just because Jesus’ name isn’t all in this book, doesn’t mean there aren’t biblical discussions to be had from it.

  16. Cate says:

    I appreciated this review- a lot. I felt like I might be the only Christian who disliked this series…for reasons that seem very, very sound in my mind.

    Fiction and plot devices and author’s real/main/true/dystopian intent aside- the book is about children killing children. The very thing we decry when we hear about it in the news constantly.

    I am not saying that those who like the books like the violence- I’ve been told (by other Christians) that is what my sentiment suggests. I am sure that most people find the acts of the books reprehensible, as I do. I just cannot understand how, if someone finds such acts to be reprehensible/unacceptable/atrocious…why would you support such a thing and engage it in your mind? I truly do not understand.

    For me, in it’s simplest terms it is this: Violence to children, by children, for children is something I cannot accept, regardless of the moral of the story. And I continue to be surprised at the number of Christians who find my perspective to be ignorant or lacking.

    1. Josh says:

      I don’t understand why so many Christians assume that since there are children killing children in the book, we glorify that aspect of it… People murder in the Bible. We don’t read Hunger Games to see kids die any more than we read the Bible to see people murdered (well, other than Jesus, I guess. But I doubt most Christians are rooting for Jesus to be killed as they read the gospels)…

      That’s such a terrible misunderstanding of reading in general.

      1. Autumn says:

        I really don’t think that we should be comparing reading THG to reading the Holy Word of God…. Just saying… :)

        1. CFloyd says:

          Why not? I compare everything I read with God’s word. How else am I supposed to glean truth or untruth. And David was a boy who engaged in violence against another human being.

          1. Autumn says:

            I guess I just think it is seriously FLAWED that there are so many Christian adults that are SO worked up about a negative review of a Secular, TEENAGE book!
            My goodness…. if only we all had such fervor for the things of God as you all seem to have for this drivel! Really makes me sad. Don’t get me wrong, I read all 3 of the books…. and I enjoyed them for what they were…. Mediocre teenage fiction. I didn’t try to search to find some grand, noble, redemptive theme in them! Why is that necessary? To make oneself feel better about having read and enjoyed them??

        2. CFloyd says:

          I am sorry, but God didn’t call anyone to be monks in a monestary only praying, fasting, and reading the Bible. This is called “literary” debate, and “biblical” debate is not more holy and this is no more unholy. God’s word is meant to be real and used in the world. We all live IN this world – that includes TV, and videos, movies, and books. I don’t listen to secular music at all, that is my choice. I don’t have a running critique on any of it either. But my son wanted to see this movie, and I wanted US to read the book first. I found a LOT of great things to discuss with him, including the unconditional love of Peeta that is a “type” of Christ’s love for us. Even when we didn’t notice him, he loved and sacrificed for us. Before we loved him he loved us. Everything he did, he did for us to save us. These are great observations to get from a novel. Having literary debates helps us to give an acount for what we believe.

          I revere the Bible NOT by setting everything apart from it, but by holding everything up to it.

          Thanks! :)

      2. Cate says:

        I think you probably didn’t get my point- first, that I said exactly opposite of what you paraphrased from my post (I wrote, “I am not saying that those who like the books like the violence- I’ve been told (by other Christians) that is what my sentiment suggests. I am sure that most people find the acts of the books reprehensible, as I do…”) That would include people who READ the books, not only those few who choose not to read them.

        Second, what further upsets me is that my opinion (that the books are unnecessarily violent, specifically towards children and that that is unacceptable to me) is considered neanderthal by many Christians because I am not “looking deeper into the story/characters” for what is good in it. I can’t see good. There’s too much violence and gore and blood. And because of that, I am not intelligent enough to “get it.”

        1. CFloyd says:

          No, it’s not about “searching deeper” to see the truth and ignore the kid violence. She chose children for a reason, it was on purpose, it IS the point. The Lottery did the same thing. The author, who was Jewish and had grown up in a quaint village full of anti-semitism, in her story, had a 2yr old (or younger??) taking part in the Lottery to be stoned, and then when it’s his mother who “wins”, he picks up stones to throw at her! How reprehensible is that? And yet that whole story is a satire of religious traditions and the judging or stoning of someone arbitrarily.

          If you are only focused on the “children” committing acts of violence then you ARE missing the point of the author purposefully using children to shock us all into realizing 4yr old Pageants where children are being injected with BOTOX and put into tanning booths!! is violence against children for our self-satisfaction and amusement. It IS the exploitation of children no one’s doing anything about. Allowing children to pierce, dye, and starve or fatten themselves from fixation to perversion is society allowing violence against children. Putting guns in the hands of 8yr olds in Africa or Iraq or Palestine while we watch on TV and eat our dinners – that IS glorifying kid on kid violence.

          Those images masked in a story and blown up into satire IS a worthy lesson – one we may hope will be listened to.

        2. ChrisM says:


          I think you may want to watch an interview with Suzanne Collins. She despises what does on in her book as well. What motivated her to write the book was the current American obsession with violence and reality TV. So, she wrote a book (and a series) that depicts where she thinks America (or other such places) could end up as a result of their obsession with violence and reality TV.

          This book helps tune me to what is most wrong with our society. If you’re not ok with that, I advise you don’t turn on the news.

          1. Cate says:

            And my initial point continues to be true. It shouldn’t surprise me, but the attitude towards people who disagree with the premise of these books is still the same- my viewpoint is ignorant and uneducated, compared to everyone who can glean lessons from/appreciate this series.

            It makes me sad that such judgmental comments can be made on a Christian article forum. I do turn on the news. And that is why these books bother me as much as they do. Because I believe it further deadens the majority to the violence that we (as a society) are desensitized to in the real world. Maybe not you, any of you on this forum, and that’s great for you.

            But I see an issue with it when it’s a story FOR KIDS who are all ready so normalized to the violence that surrounds us. I just can’t believe that the masses of young people like this series because of its dystopian premise. I think they like it for the adventure and struggle and intrigue that are all good things in a story that you have all described. I just think it’s unacceptable that these story details are bathed in the blood of children.

            Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be sharing a minority opinion on here again. It’s too disheartening with other Christians specifically, and not even a conversation with those that disagree, but rather a bombardment as to why I am wrong.

          2. Victoria says:


            First, I am sorry that you feel misunderstood.

            Did you read the books?

            Your comments state how you feel and why you don’t like the series, but don’t acknowledge the fact that Dystopian literature is intended for a purpose and Collins did what she set out to do well.

            The series is intended to awaken, not deaden our culture to what’s going on around us! It is about HISTORY (panem et circenses of Rome-bread and games and totalitarian and fascist regimes throughout history) and our CURRENT culture-our loss of freedom, the propoganda of our news, the control of education, our thirst for reality tv and how it relates to Rome, the effects of war on children. It is mimesis-i.e. of sruvivor, or the children in toddler pageants, as CFloyd pointed out.

            THG are not promoting the violence you see on the news, it is using a literary tool with a message that can help people see with clearer perspective.

            If you read the books, take a hard look at what it can tell you about what we have allowed as violence in our culture: about the laws that allow giving abortions and vaccines to young girls without parental consent, scanning nude pictures of their bodies in airports, the list goes on. And it provides a vivid picture to understand facism, totalotarianism and war as understandable realities, not textbook philosophies. It helps people to see how far we have allowed our loss of freedoms in THIS calendar year alone-look up The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order or NDAA for starters.

            Hope this helps clarify. Blessings.

            I hope this helps you understand the responses you have received. God bless.

  17. Heather says:

    Having read all three books – and finding the first book to be distressing I think this review is missing a few key points. Anyone who has read and understood the underlying themes beyond what Katniss and the other teens have to endure in this fictional story line knows the review is lacking.

  18. Kenny says:

    I think I completely disagree with this. I’m not really sure how Collins commits such fundamental flaws of the human story. Like you said, her protagonist’s single act of self-sacrifice is for her sister, and she is otherwise self-absorbed. As we can easily see, this is common across humanity – and even the most selfish of people will sacrifice for the things they hold most dear.
    At no point does Katniss see herself as the rebellious hero leading an oppressed people against a regime, but rather, the oppressed people attribute this to her out of their own desire and need for such a leader. This, also, is something we can easily see within humanity as a whole. We need only to turn on the tele and watch the Republicans/Democrats rally behind their respective heroes, seeing in them saviors even if there is no real change being promoted.
    Your conclusions about Peeta are spot on.
    In the end, as the trilogy progresses and comes to completion, we see a mass of people who are willing to follow blindly anyone who can tickle their ears, whether it be President Snow, or the new regime seeking the same kind of power and control. In the end, Katniss seems to finally understand such wickedness and actually rebels with unselfish ambition by killing Coin in hopes of ending the cycle and saving countless lives. And naturally, society outcasts her for this. Because humanity does not want real freedom from the oppression of wickedness, they only want to have a say in that wickedness.
    Collins, I think, very aptly captures humanity in all of its wickedness. Apart from Christ and the grace of God, humanity naturally moves toward the Hunger Games.

  19. Bryant Coker says:

    This review is extreme in negatively assessing the motives of the characters as much as I believe TGC has been extreme in positively assessing the greatness of the Stranger. May takeaway from the series: when the hope of Christ is not present in reality (or fiction for the matter), morals, ethics, and the value of humanity fall apart.

  20. Oliver says:

    Wow. Didn’t read these comments before I wrote a blog rebutting this article. Turns out many astute commenters have pointed out some of my arguments. I still would love to have Wilson’s response to my blog, so if you wouldn’t mind passing it on I’d appreciate it.

    For the record, I have read all three books, and I am a Christian.

  21. Eric says:

    Nate’s article itself is flawed, I think poorly missing some critical points in this STORY. Using just book one to conclude what Nate came to in his assessment was a mistake, since the story didn’t end there. How many people will actually read just book one, and not get the final two parts of the story to see the evolution of Katniss, and the entire story altogether? Hardly any I suspect. The comment thread on the article hits better points, from a secular or Christian POV, than the article did in my opinion. We can’t assume a Christian umbrella lays atop everything in our culture, especially this book. It was not written for Christians, by a Christian as far as I know, so we cannot assume our worldview is what was intended.

    1. Eric says:

      …and we DEFINITELY cannot try to lump some redemptive, Christian themed ideas of some sort to make it all feel and sound better to us. That is a disastrous and all too common mistake that Christians make so that we can take in cultural garbage without feeling too bad about it.

  22. Victoria and Chris pretty much summed up my response. As a youth Pastor, I’m well versed in the confusing minds of teenagers (especially teenage girls). While reading I was annoyed by her character at times (in the same way Harry Potter’s character was annoying) in that she was unsure about everything. But that is exactly the point, and it’s why I stuck around for the end, because Collins isnt dealing so much with a revolution against an oppressive regime (something I was surprised to realize as I read through the series) because she doesn’t even address the bulk of the revolution until the 3rd installment (in fact, until the end of the 2nd book, Katniss is completely unaware of the revolution). What Collins is dealing with is the struggle of identity, it’s why Katniss isn’t really involved in the revolution apart from shooting down a couple of planes until the very end when she kills Coin instead of Snow. It’s why Finnick wrestles so much with finding purpose outside of the woman he loves. It’s why Peeta wrestles with whether or not Katniss loves him. It’s also why Katniss loves two different guys, and yet the resolution of the tension of that love (which spanned the entire series) is brought together rather quickly at the very end (and without another word or appearance from the guy behind door #2).
    Katniss discovers love at the end, love that heals her wounds and Peeta’s wounds, love that brings her to have the children she swore she would never have, love that was finally and for her completely, real.

  23. Shocking to me is the amount of time Christians will spend reading and critiquing books that have no redemptive value and then spend more time critiquing the critiques and looking for critiques of their critiques! To what end is this profitable for the kingdom of Christ? (I do value the work of some Christians who will inform me, in summary form, what the book is about.)

    I have not read the books, nor do I intend to . . . unless, one day, someone I am sharing the Gospel with tells me they can’t trust the Bible or that Christ can save them from their sins because I have never read The Hunger Games or watched the Twilight movies.

    I pray God will help me to root out my own worldliness and that each follower of Christ would consider the same. Why do we entertain ourselves with sin (Ephesians 4-5)?

    1. Eric says:

      Roger, I guess it is good then that you choose to keep yourself away from the world? You wouldn’t want to have anything culturally relevant affecting you when that is in so many cases the only entry point you have to non-Christians. Be in the world, not of it. I don’t think God would be angered or disappointed in your if you were to read these books so that you understand what is popular and appeals to the culture that you live in.

    2. Heather says:

      I read it because my 17yo son did and I wanted to be able to have a valued conversation with him about these books. Which we DID have! That being said am Christian but know well enough that we as even just people can NOT continue to be “sheeple”.

    3. Katie Stewart says:

      Like, Totally! And, hey, while you’re at it, forget that Shakespeare dude! His plays have people **doing it** without being married! And they swear! Gee golly!

  24. Victoria and Chris pretty much summed up my response. As a youth Pastor, I’m well versed in the confusing minds of teenagers (especially teenage girls). While reading I was annoyed by her character at times in that she was unsure about everything. But that is exactly the point, and it’s why I stuck around for the end, because Collins isnt dealing so much with a revolution against an oppressive regime (something I was surprised to realize as I read through the series) because she doesn’t even address the bulk of the revolution until the 3rd installment (in fact, until the end of the 2nd book, Katniss is completely unaware of the revolution). What Collins is dealing with is the struggle of identity, it’s why Katniss isn’t really involved in the revolution apart from shooting down a couple of planes until the very end when she kills Coin instead of Snow. It’s why Finnick wrestles so much with finding purpose outside of the woman he loves. It’s why Peeta wrestles with whether or not Katniss loves him. It’s also why Katniss loves two different guys, and yet the resolution of the tension of that love (which spanned the entire series) is brought together rather quickly at the very end (and without another word or appearance from the guy behind door #2).
    Katniss discovers love at the end, love that heals her wounds and Peeta’s wounds, love that brings her to have the children she swore she would never have, love that was finally and for her completely, real.

  25. Pingback: Screw the Pendulum
  26. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades.”

    Director Terence Malick’s film “Tree of Life” is regarded by sophisticated critics as an intelligent masterpiece, a visual poem even.

    Hunger Games is mass market entertainment. Nothing wrong with that.

  27. Terry says:

    Um, did you read all 3 books dude? Plus it’s not a “christian” book. It’s just a story no real life.

  28. Joshua says:

    Excellent article! Very thoughtful and well articulated.

  29. Dean says:

    Man are you all bored!

    It’s called fiction.

  30. Like so many others here I believe that reviewer has missed the point of the books. These book truly display humanity in all it’s brokenness and frailty. Katniss is not a Christian and has not been raised in anything but poverty and fear. The only thing that she has to hold on too are those she loves and her own life. She is willing to give up her own life for her sister and then she will do what she must to survive. There is nothing Christian here, it is more Darwinian reality TV. Like any teenager raised without faith and in such poverty, she fights only to save that which she cares about and herself.

    Peeta is not quite so week as you portray him. He tells Katniss that he does not want the games to change him and I believe that this is the first time Katniss sees that there is something bigger at work behind all of this. It is also what gives her the motivation so protect little Rue and manipulate the system to save herself and Peeta. So, on the contrary, I believe Collins has a superb understanding of humanity. Katniss uses the system and twists it to her advantage bending and breaking the rules of the Hunger Games to survive and save Peeta. It is because they both live, defying the Capitol to it’s face that allows the rebellious undertones of Panem to come fully to the surface.

  31. Shana Shivers says:

    I don’t think Katniss is as survival oriented as everyone thinks. She has this running selfish narrative in her head, but what does she actually DO? It reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the obedient and disobedient sons. The one who talked a good game didn’t go, and the one who kicked about it did go. Katniss’ dealings with Rue and Peeta are very instructive as to her real character. I think this review glosses over that. I don’t see the tracker-jacker incident as a cold-blooded killing. It was self-defense. Considering her background, I find her to be a noble character in many ways. She has to overcome a lot. Like a previous poster said, she wasn’t raised to nobility in any way. Yet she still is compassionate in the most horrific of circumstances despite her gruffness.

  32. J.F. says:

    The Hunger Games is terrible because Katniss didn’t do what Maximus Aurelius would have done.

    Wait…what the….

    Also, the Vow is horrible, because if Rocky was playing Rachel McAdam’s character, he would have remembered…. You know that’s right.

    1. Deb says:

      So true. Funny thing is, Mr. Wilson mischaracterized Maximus. He should have remembered how many other gladiators where killed in that arena by the men Maximus led before he had his chance to confront the totalitarian ruler.

  33. Cristi says:

    Honestly, I don’t fully agree with the points he makes (for instance what confuses Katniss is Peeta’s total commitment to protect her instead of himself, not his passivity). But loved this:

    “One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades.”

    I’ve also enjoyed the TV show Downton Abbey, but I feel his quote completely sums up a lot of Christians’ responses to it (even on this website). A lot of the enjoyment of Downton comes from the visceral experience of watching the great characterizations. Trying to make it something deeper or holier than entertainment doesn’t quite work. You already like it, now you are trying to find “legit” or even Christian reasons to like it. But is that necessary? Is it wrong to just like something that is entertaining (if you are also guarding your mind and thoughts, not hurting your conscience, and fulfilling your responsibilities first)?

    Art can truly make us think. Crime and Punishment includes a nasty, violent murder in the beginning by a less than sympathetic main character, but the rest of the book is a study in guilt and conscience that is very insightful. Though I do think the complete trilogy of THG has more depth and exploration of Katnis’ selfishness and willingness to kill than this author admits, his warning still stands. Let’s be honest about why we like something.

  34. Patrick says:

    I think that our viewpoint (this article) is way off if we’re reading Dystopian Literature. The claims made here are laughable, from the objections, to the examples (Gladiator?).Nowhere do we make the claim for Katniss as noble heroine;

    If we take this tack, we completely miss the truths: irony in our youth (and adults), in brand-name clothes, going to be entertained by the Hunger Games. The books have quite a lot to say about the dog-eat-dog world of the poor in America, and it does so well. Katniss isn’t meant to be a paragon, but a look into the corruptive effect of the system. Peeta is the pure heart who is the victim, completely disoriented by the machinations of the empire, to the end where he doesn’t know what’s true anymore. Regardless, the book does what it seeks to do, and no matter how many shadows we Christians want to see, Satan isn’t hiding around every corner.

    Folk theology at it’s “finest.”

  35. Lilly says:

    “In the Darwinian world, self-preservation is the ultimate shiny good. ”


    Do you mean: “In Herbert Spencer’s world, self-preservation is the ultimate shiny good?”

    Herbert Spencer is the guy who came up with “Survival of the Fittest” or what many call “Social Darwinism” – but its not Darwin at all – and its a flawed, ridiculous group of stupid ideas that racists and oppressors have used for years to be awful to their fellow man. Is THAT what you are trying to reference?

    DARWIN’s work is about *reproductive fitness* (how many babies can you have/how many of your genes can you get out there). Animals are wired to get out there and mate and keep their species going…that’s the basis of Darwin’s work. Darwin noticed that often times animals end their own lives to provide for their children to ensure they survive and live, that is not “Self-preservation” (think of the praying mantis, he looses his head, but feeds the mother and his children!)

    It makes NO sense to put a Darwin reference in a Hunger Games article – unless Katniss was trying to ensure the safety of her unborn child that we don’t know about?

  36. David says:

    Nate missed the point entirely…entirely.

  37. Gabriel says:

    I have not read the all the comments yet. However, I agree with Chris. first, I don’t know why we would expect this book to relay Christian messages. It is not marketed as such. Second, I equate katniss with a person such as myself. You grow up living a hard life, not really exposed to much good in the world but eventually you start growing up, gaining wisdom and experience, eventually seeing a need for what you can offer this world. As Chris said, katniss is only a teen girl. To expect her to be the automatic hero is wrong. She is simply trying to survive. Honestly, I think it is a good reflection of how people are raising their children to not think for themselves and they go with the current of our culture. Katniss only knew what she lived with and she was to busy trying to stay alive at the point of the story beginning. Something else I thought about, to expect Katniss to not kill a pack of thugs who were bred and trained to kill is completely unrealistic. In this story she would have been killed at the first opportunity the thugs had.

    I did like that you pointed out Peeta was a girly boy. I hated that it had to be that way but the author did what she had to do, I guess. I hated the love triangle aspect.

  38. rebecca says:

    two points he makes that i disagree with about Collins’ perspective on humanity. She IS still being sacrificial when she kills and survives in the games, even more than he realizes. She is doing what she despises to win for her sister, mom, gale, and village. Several times in the trilogy she mentions that she would rather rebel, die, etc but is doing what she needs to keep THEM alive not herself. This isnt Darwinian, just the best a depraved mind can do. Secondly, he is aggravated that she doesnt make the hunger games her enemy and wonders why she is participating at all instead of rebelling…perhaps he hasnt read the rest of the trilogy? “Katniss, remember who your real enemy is” Also, in the first book she doesnt see another way, she comes from oppression in which history tells us over and over that oppressed, depraved people hardly ever see another way out or option. I am not commenting on her writing, I simply dont think her philosophical standpoints are as off base as he is interpreting them to be.

  39. Jasmine says:

    Brilliant article. Very insightful. Thanks!

  40. Stephanie says:

    Hmmm… The Arab spring was jump started by the pathos of a desperate fruit seller who self immolated. So, maybe the point about oppressive regimes being moved by suicide is not quite accurate. As well, Catniss lays down her life for her little sister, as she has sacrificed for her their whole lives, but why does that mean her self sacrifice has to be extended to everyone in the world? She’s a teen at the beginning of the series, a rebel, yes, but not a revolutionary. Part of the beauty of the series is watching the metamorphosis as she goes from rebel to revolutionary, and the metamorphosis is part of what makes these books compalling. As adults, it’s easy to think through what a more reasoned and measured response would be, but the beauty of reading this book is that Catniss is still unformed, under extreme pressure, without support or resources, and we are rooting for her not only to grow up quick, but to grow up good, and make the decisions that would be hard for us, as adults. Part of the fear is watching her go along at first, and her gradual growth within the rules of the game allows momentum and support to build among the population…

  41. KJQ says:

    I agree on all counts. I allowed my sons to read the books and see the movie, but not because I admired the plot nor any of the characters. The main reason was to be able to discuss the “world” that Collins has created is a great example of a world without God. No one is happy, there is no joy, and no real purpose to life. The despotic rulers are overthrown, but only to be (SPOILER ALERT) almost replaced by another despotic, immoral President. The last book ends with very little optimism or reason to believe that the future will be much better than the past. Oh, I’m also actually grateful that religion in general and Christianity specifically is absent from the books & movie, as we’re usually portrayed in some weird, warped way.

    1. CFloyd says:

      I also thought the 3rd book ended with out hope and relaying that the war cycle would continue. However, upon a second reading I found in book 2 where the author purposefully puts in a prophesy about the end: Katniss takes a moment to imagine a world where Peeta’s children could grow up and play in a meadow and never have to worry about Hunger Games again – and that is exactly how the end is. So the author IS saying in their world, Katniss and Peeta DID make a difference, their sacrifice was not in vain, and by extension if we each would do something within our power to hold back or end tyranny and defend freedoms, we too can make a difference. Of course as a Christian I do not believe in man’s ability to EVER bring about world peace or some sort of Utopia – because Utopia is ALWAYS man-based – so is DYStopia. But Heaven is God-based. :)

  42. Luann says:

    With all due respect, I’ve never heard of Nate Wilson, but Suzanne Collins has made millions…so instead of criticizing, maybe he should study her style.

    Second, I don’t know why he insists characters should be one-dimensional. That’s not how it is in real life. Real people are heroic sometimes–and on the brink of murder at others. None of us is all good or all evil, and that’s why so many relate to these wonderful characters.

  43. Christy says:

    I am a homeschool Mother to two boys. I am not a scholar by any means but I do have a few things I want to share. I read the books because I have children that will one day want to read these books. The “Hunger Games” were not intended to be another “Aesop’s Fables” or a book about idealistic humanity. I have a feeling ” The Heart of Darkness” and “Animal Farm” weren’t either. They are fiction and I feel the pointed criticism comes because they are written for CHILDREN (which is OK if your children have a firm Christian foundation). Katniss and Peeta are characters in a novel and not intended to be ROLE MODELS for our children. Yes, there are some teachable moments in these books, like most literature, and we as parents need to take advantage of those moments. I will indulge in debating whether Katniss’ character went from self-sacrificing to a a killing machine devoid of remorse or emotion. She loved her sister so she sacrificed herself. That same love for her family drove her to “fight to win” to get back to them and provide for them(food, money). Katniss knew “spear heading a revolution” was a sure way to put her family in harm’s way. Humanity and it’s choices can not be described in black and white – our choices are influenced by so many variables. It is pompous of us to criticize this book because it is not a “how to live a moral life instruction manuel” for our children – that book is the Bible – and I hope our kids are reading that too. Whew, now I feel better!

  44. This is pretty disappointing snarky second-guessing. Why is it more “natural” for someone to cut a deep hole into their own arm to fish out a locator and somehow convince other adolescents who are paralyzed with fear and mistrust to let her do the same thing to them? Sure, that would be easy to pull off in real life! The Hunger Games is not at all supposed to be realism anyway. It’s a completely stylized story. It’s an allegorical representation of a world that is getting increasingly cut-throat for adolescents.

    1. Amen to this. Well said!

  45. Bill says:

    I’m simply having a hard time with wasting Gospel Coalition media space with trying to appear hyper spiritual or to show your unmatched doctrinal intuitiveness by ripping a currently popular book series. Let it be a story.

    1. Christy says:


    2. Mitchell Hammonds says:

      Exactly Bill! It’s fiction… enjoy the entertainment.

  46. Jim Crigler says:

    My previous comment regarding Providence shouldn’t be taken as endorsing The Hunger Games as Christian.

    But because we are created in the image of God, it takes Hard Work™ to avoid putting redemptive themes in any book. And such hard work, considered as the story surrounding a book, could be considered a redemptive theme.

    Regarding Katniss’s outlook: Her detachment (Can we call it a “male attitude” without offending anyone? I doubt it.) comes from having to be, effectively, the head of the household and major provider as a result of her mother’s emotional shock when her father died.

    Regarding the brutality of the Panem society: Does anybody have a better way to depict this? Even Dickens used the senseless death of a child in A Tale Of Two Cities. Every author has choices to make; Collins chose shock.

    1. Cheryl says:

      I absolutely agree! I, as a Christian, look for God or his attributes, or his character, or his themes in anything I read or watch “…in the rustling grass I hear him pass. He speaks to me everywhere.” – I don’t read satanic fiction, I decided before-hand what I am going to expose myself or my children to. This author IS Catholic. She chose to make Peeta a representation of bread and a rock. I’m the one “stretching” to see a biblical allusion? We’re not saying it’s a Christian book – I’M the Christian! So, I see the author’s allusions or motif of unconditional, other-oriented love, the pointed, personal attack of a “snake”, full of “poison” antagonist that surely alludes to the picture of Satan but not within the redemptive story – because, it’s not a Christian book!Because I’M the Christian, I do look for anything I can discuss within my Chrisitan worldview with others and with my children.

  47. mdk says:

    I couldn’t disagree more. I have not read the books, but I did watch the movie, and I very much identify and understand ALL the behavior depicted. Katniss isn’t a paragon of virtue. Just a decent person who doesn’t want to die. She risked her life to save her sister, but now it’s kill or be killed, and it’s not a game to change, it’s a rigged media event, run by politicians. It took her down to the last to understand it, but when faced with it, she did what any intelligent person should do… Use it in her favor.

    Katniss has no trouble killing those who would kill her… Yet finds herself in sympathy with those who have no thirst to kill. This is very human…and very rational. Few of us would be any different.

    The story is about totalitarianism, the rage, the desperation, and the self interest displayed by all is reflective of EVERY victim of totalitarian societies. Just read the history of humanity since 1800, and you’ll find that both Katniss and others depicted is neither unusual, nor even outside of “usual”. There are real stories that mirror what you see in the stories and people in the movie, spread all through recent history.

    The objections made to both Rand and THG reveal the author to have a profound lack of comprehension of both political power and its attractions, and of the willingness of far too many to simply accomodate whatever system is imposed… and try to use others as a shield from it. Perhaps a little insight into real humanity, not the ideological caricature clung to, would help in the comprehension of things.

  48. Barry Westbrook says:

    I’m not a huge fan of The Hunger Games but I’ve read them all and this review is a bad one. Notice how when referring to flaws, the reviewer says things that Katniss needs to do or should have done. Who says? If he was just giving his opinion I would disagree and thats it. But he’s saying these are flaws about the human story…what? Did he read what I read?

  49. Luke Easter says:

    I have no idea who N.D. Wilson is, nor have I read any of his books. Based on this essay, I get the impression that he thinks they’re pretty good. With that said, my impression of Wilson, based solely on this blog, is that he is a drooling, window licking dement who likely writes in crayon on large pieces of white butcher paper that his mother then sticks to the fridge so he’ll feel some sense of accomplishment. I imagine he’s the product of one of those nurturing home environments where one’s parents champion mediocrity under the pretense of encouraging one’s passions. He obviously didn’t get The Hunger Games at all. His assertions are simplistic and seemingly willfully ignorant. If this blog is any indication of his prowess as a writer and/or critical thinker, I think I will pass on any further offerings from this wannabe.

    1. Lois says:

      For the record, N.D. Wilson is not a wannabe author but, in my humble opinion, a very great published author of some of my favorite works of fantasy. Also, people do have feelings and some of those comments you wrote about him were MEAN and really rather unfair since you don’t know anything about him (as you admitted) but what you read on this blog (and that is never an impression I think anyone could really get from this blog).

      1. Cheryl says:

        I agree that this comment is insulting rather than critical of the lack of logical or perspective. Whether he is an accomplished author or a block-buster author, I do respect him as an author. I just do not agree with, not do I feel a compulsion to respect the analysis, his guest post here. I respect him as a person as well. using viseral words to make a point – to mirror a poorly constructed arguement or opinion – is even acceptable, but if you were trying to do that, it did not go over correctly. In order to be heard, you need choose wisely the rebuttal you give. But, perhaps that wasn’t really your intent either.

    2. I don’t know Mr. Wilson, but I’ve read his novels, and he’s one of the best children’s writers around. Really.

      I know something of his background and I’m not a huge fan of some of the stuff coming out of Moscow, but that doesn’t change the fact that ND Wilson understands story, he understands human nature, he understands children, he understands joy, he understand authority.

      I have read eight of Collins’s novels and five of Wilson’s. There is no doubt over which is the better writer. I love Collins’ middle grade books, but they are lacking right where Wilson says Hunger Games is lacking. The characters in her middle grade books are shallow in the same way the Hunger Games characters are shallow. Not real, just pawns, moved by the author so she can preach her message “war is hell,” and “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

      This is not to say the books don’t have some greatness about them. They do. My children and I have bought up every hardback as soon as they came out. But I hated Mockingjay so much that I will probably never buy another book written by Suzanne Collins. And I didn’t go to the movie. That’s how much I hated the way she made her characters devolve. She treated them with no respect. She didn’t allow them to become great. She made them ugly and mean and broken. OK that’s how she views the world. But it’s a false view.

      Humans are fallen but there is redemption available and many will be redeemed. Humans are fallen but they are made in the image of God so they are precious. When Katniss blew away the civilian I just wished she’d die and be done with it. There was not going to be any redemption for anyone. That was clear.

      If Collins wanted Katniss to be fallen and broken fine, but there is NO ONE good in Mockingjay. There is NO HERO. And that a false view. God has always had and will always have heroes. You can have a hero in dystopian fiction. You simply let him retain his integrity as he burns at the stake.

      I don’t believe you can understand human nature if you don’t understand sin and redemption and God’s purpose in the world–his determination to save for himself a people. You have to start with God to understand people.

      That’s my best guess, anyway.

      1. CFloyd says:

        Sally, just to let you, if you would go back and read Catching Fire and Mockingjay, you would see redemption at the end. There is faith, hope, and love – love being the greatest because it overcame the most. I got from Collins choice of how to write Mockingjay that it isn’t just “war is hell” but it’s the dystopian arch type, that the state can and will break you. I cried when I finished MJ it just hurt! But that second time around (I had read through them first and then went back to read to my son) I found where the author built in the end in the middle of Catching Firing: She has Katniss imagining a world where Peeta’s children could play in a meadow and there are no Hunger Games. That made me realize Collins was saying at the end of MJ, this IS hopeful, everything will be alright, and things have changed. Even though Katniss and Peeta are scarred, they have overcome. The movie was junk, didn’t capture the book at all though. :)

  50. Oneil says:

    dumb. and sad for both of you. but as long as you’re happy…

  51. JDM says:

    I disagree with Nate. His suggestions for her plot would kill the book as they are entirely too predictable and too cliche. The direction she takes with the characters makes them more human and believable, even if that does make them seem less Christian. At the same time the plot keeps you guessing. Nate, stick with writing your own books and leave the criticism to the critics.

  52. Maja says:

    My dad used to tell me, after I finished playing a game of hockey, that in such-and-such a situation I should have done this or that. Well, at that time, I didn’t have such-and-such a knowledge of what I was doing, I was reacting- and maybe that’s not the way athletes should play, but they learn from their mistakes and then make changes to try to be able to respond better in future game situations. To criticize Katniss about what she should have done, seems equally useless- take out her tracker? Save the boy trying to kill her? Whoever said that hindsight is always 20/20 is right.. It’s not like that in the moment, so I think, Collins rather accurately portrays how people behave in intense, gruelling situations.
    And, just as another side note- when Wilson says that he threw out the Fountainhead and never read any more Rand for the reason that she inaccurately portrays human society and forces characters into making choices that they wouldn’t have, I think that for someone who writes and clearly reads a lot, that’s a bit of a simplistic way to read anything. I’m just reading Atlas Shrugged right now and I definitely don’t agree with some of her major premises, but that doesn’t make it a piece of junky fiction- it actually makes her assessment of human nature even more clear and accurate. She describes one type of human motivation for action (though it’s not a Christian worldview one). Not to mention that she is an astute observer of many other things in regard to the politics, economics/wealth, “the common good”, etc. The themes are endless! To not read her, or other non-Christian works for those reasons would mean that those of us, who are Christians, might miss out on opportunities to understand more clearly why people behave the way they do, without Christ, and will miss out on chances to hear non-Christian voices that still make accurate assessments of truth, all be it not “True truth” (Edith Schaeffer’s words) to describe truth that’s revealed in scripture). That to me, is particularly useful. So for that reason, even if we read Collins’ books as honest assessments of why people do what they do, that is a useful and insightful exercise, one that a Christian can look at and can learn from, not so much as an example of what is good and commendable and Christ-like, but for the purpose of seeing the dangers, the hopelessness, the futility of life without him, even in the noblest of characters.

    To me, the third book was written with an ending that left the reader feeling the same kind of sad, hopelessness that Katniss faced, regardless of her freedom from the Capitol and her new life with Peeta. She didn’t seem sunny and optimistic, and free from guilt and nightmares, she seemed to have found a limited kind of peace, one that would always be wanting, because her past and the life she had had to live would always be with her, haunting her. If that isn’t a real way of describing life apart from Christ (obviously not the intention of Collins), then I’m not sure what is.

    1. Cheryl says:

      Just to let you know about book 3, if you read through the 2nd and 3rd book again, you found out Collins actually does leave the end hopeful. In the 2nd book she has Katniss image a world where Peeta’s children could play in a meadow without fear of any more Hunger Games – the exact end she gave them. So I was encouraged about that. In the 1st book the symbol of a dandelion is defined by Katniss as meaning hope to her. At the end of book 3, the author has Katniss and Peeta “grow back together” – equaling faith in one another, dandelions present – equalling hope – and Peeta confirming Katniss’ love as real. The thing that overcame all the fear the torment produced, and the pronouncements nothing could be stronger are deleted in the love that overcame all. “These three remain: faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.” I’m not reaching or patching that onto the book. That is a Catholic author who has a personal worldview that is biblically based. And she personally didn’t want to end her story or “lesson” as dystopians are – without hope or love. A second reading gave me a much better perspective thant he first time through when I felt the same way you do.

  53. barlow says:

    The rape analogy just doesn’t work. There is no such thing as a “rape or be raped” situation, but there are kill or be killed situations in this world, and in the world of the book. Sending tracker jackers to bite people in wait to kill you is perfectly appropriate. It isn’t killing them, it’s using pretty much the only weapon you have to defend yourself.

    1. Karen Butler says:

      N.D. borrowed that ridiculous idea from his father, Douglas Wilson, who wrote a similarly silly review of the books:

      Both fault the characters for not acting with Christian morals. They would have to rewrite much of the Bible.

  54. Nicolette says:

    I made some notes as I read your article. I find your argument so unbelievably flawed that I’m blown away. I’m going to go over a few of your points and let you know how wrong you are.
    1. Katniss is glad that Rue is killed by someone else.
    – You’re misinterpreting this aspect of the story. Katniss says at one point that she doesn’t want to be the one to kill Rue (Before she knows the girl). At another point she expresses a hope that, if she doesn’t win, Rue would.
    2. Katniss is evil.
    -Evil? Really? Last I checked we’re all flawed, sinful humans. Katniss is not evil, she reacts to her situation in sinful ways, yes, but that doesn’t make her any more evil than you or I. Sin is sin. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lie or murder, God weighs them all the same.
    3. Peeta is a push-over.
    -Would you prefer an Edward Cullen male figure? A controlling man who obsesses over his lady and watches her sleep? Peeta is a patient child (I emphasize that he is a child with no experience with women) with respect for women. Why shouldn’t he be content with being a friend?
    4. Katniss killed innocent children with tracker jackers.
    – Uh, were we reading the same book? Last I checked those “innocent children” thought it was hilarious when they killed the girl at the camp fire and they were only sleeping under that tree waiting for Katniss to come down so that they could kill her too.
    5. Rape is better than death?
    – I’m not going to comment on this. I’m just going to say that I’d love to hear you tell a brutally raped woman that.
    6. People are not moved by self-sacrifice.
    -Your point here was jumbled, so I’m sorry if I’m misinterpreting you here. But it sounds to me like you were saying that people would not start a revolution because of a teenagers self-sacrifice. If that’s the case I think we need to look at Jesus himself, while not a teenager, his self-sacrifice revolutionized the world.
    7.She could have cut out the locators and hid other tributes.
    -I Honestly laughed when I read this. Soooo. When someone comes at you with a deadly weapon… you waltz up to them and cut a hole in their arm and convince them that you’re going to take them to a safe place. Yeah, okay.

  55. Mark R says:

    terrible review. terrible.

  56. Anthony says:

    Has he read the entire trilogy? I re-read the review, and I didn’t notice any references to the other books in the trilogy. It especially struck me that he may not have read the whole series when he said that real people would have blown up the game. [spoliler alert] Isn’t that exactly what they do in the second book? Also, the fact that country is called Panem (bread) and that one of the characters (in a later book) comments about it being combined with circuses, would seem to be somewhat of a jab at our western culture. (i.e. It does seem to understand something of real human society)
    A more interesting question for me is why this dystopian genre is so popular. What is being said that resonates with young people. The novel is pretty pessimistic about human nature, and doesn’t really end on a happy note.

  57. I think it is a misnomer to suggest that something can be just a story. Or to dismiss that a point is trying to be made because it’s just fiction.

    1. Victoria says:

      Eric, Excellent point!

  58. Kevin Stilley says:

    Wilson’s approach to the books seems kind of shallow to me; a “let’s look for the great moral truths” approach. I hope that he will look at the discussion questions at and reconsider the value of the books.

  59. Mel says:

    I would like to see a response from ND Wilson to the comments following this review. I believe that they are more accurate and discerning of the entire story.

  60. Brandy says:

    I loved the last paragraph of this. That needed to be said and it needs to be thought about. I know way too many young people who missed the flaws in Katniss’s character completely. They think she is the ultimate selfless heroine and she’s not. She wasn’t meant to be.

    I think Mr. Wilson’s biggest problem with the books was that he wanted them to tell a different story than they were telling. This doesn’t make them flawed to the core. It is just a difference of opinion with the author. Collins was working with different themes than Wilson apparently wanted to see.

    I do think these books have flaws. I found the world building to be thin and thought the romantic tension was a cheap plot device (love triangles being the way to get teenage girls fired up about a book) that didn’t add anything to the ultimate story. I admit though that my not loving these books comes mostly from my biases as a reader.

  61. Dan Benitez says:

    What Suzanne Collins has masterfully created is a godless world. A world that is completely void of any trace of religion–an atheistic world. In reality, no such world could exist. There will always be a believing remnant. But, for a moment, let’s put aside the fact that this type of world could not exist. Has Ms. Collins rightly displayed an atheistic world? Or, to put it another way, what would the world look like if there was no God? People would still have a conscience, but, for the most part, people would do what was right in their own eyes.

  62. jm says:

    Wilson is right.

    NO ONE would have read the books if the kids had to rape each other instead of kill.

    1. Jim Crigler says:

      To paraphrase what jm said: If the book were different, the response would be different. I agree.

    2. Nicolette says:

      That point was totally irrelevant though. There is a huge difference between raping and killing and the thought that we can put them on the same level disgusts me. Think about in war. Killing is expected, but rape within war is horrible. It’s because rape violates people in every way possible (physically, emotionally, sexually). For a so called “Thought question” it wasn’t very well thought out.

    3. J.R. says:

      Only because it would have been too foreign from our current experience. The fact that the book used killing and the fact that almost everyone can totally relate or identify with it being a close reality in our own lives (given the glut of violent entertainment and reality TV that was are exposed to daily). That is the reason why killing makes a heck of a lot more sense to use than rape.

      Wilson’s statment about rape vs. killing makes no sense whatsoever. He just copied it from his dad’s article.

  63. Micah says:

    Eh. I don’t want to argue, but I could find points to disagree with this on pretty much everything.

    Katniss was never meant to be the ultimate hero, was she? Winston Smith in 1984 was never meant to be our moral angel. In dystopias – and I think Katniss is a lot like this – the hero is flawed, and I mean flawed, but they’re our one ray of light nonetheless. And that shows us how lost humanity is, in this future. If you disagree that Katniss was meant to be like that, I point you to Mockingjay, where Katniss is OBVIOUSLY not perfect. She loses it a bit. She’s not meant to be holy.
    She sacrificed herself for Prim, but her whole world wasn’t focused on sacrifice. She loved her family, and that was what she loved. She’d give anything for *them*. But for Peeta? Eh, no. For Peeta, and anyone else, she was willing to disregard them and win. She promised Prim she’d try. She never had any real standards about not killing people. She actually told Peeta she couldn’t afford to think like that.
    I really don’t think Peeta went with everything Katniss said, though a good point may have been made on him. (Personally, I’ve always preferred Gale, so what do I know?) Peeta stood up to Katniss to the point where he had to be knocked out, when she wanted to go to the feast and get them their medicine.
    I do agree that Katniss could have killed less, but, honestly, dropping the tracker-jackers on the careers WAS self defence. She was stuck in the tree, and if she hadn’t struck first, she would have been killed eventually. Because she was cornered.
    Just a quick defence of these books. They are in no way perfect, and you’re right: Katniss could have been more rebellious. But I had to disagree that they are as flawed as they’re shown, here.

  64. Jared says:

    Others have said this already, but I want to re-iterate. Maybe Wilson should actually read all 3 books before expressing such thoughts. It’s a little silly to comment so strongly on a series based only on Part 1. It would be like writing a review of the Star Wars trilogy based only on A New Hope: “Why didn’t Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have a lightsaber fight? Gosh, it doesn’t make any sense – they were the main characters!”

    Something else about the review that bothered me is that Wilson doesn’t seem to take into account the worldview/culture of Katniss and everyone else. It’s set in future in a completely different nation than the modern USA. Life is different. The Hunger Games were not something you rebelled against. You just don’t. For her to resist them would have taken a monumental amount of courage, foresight, etc. etc. She wasn’t ready…yet. (Hmmm, guess what happens in the later books?…)

  65. jm says:

    THG resonates in the fiction world precisely because of its twisted portrayal of human nature. Our culture loves to live in an escapist way in the world it creates. Our culture is not scandalized by its plot, but rather drawn in by it.

    It pales in comparison to LOTR and even the Potter series in terms of meaningful value expressed through fiction.

    Hero fiction resonates the most when despite flaws, the hero displays admirable and imitative character attributes. That is simply not the case for the much more than just ‘flawed’ character of Katniss.

    (of course, THG will uncritically reject anything that doesn’t praise the books as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but whatever.)

    1. Cheryl says:

      This isn’t hero fiction though. Katniss is the center because it’s HER thoughts. This is dystopic literature. Katniss as the narrarator is just a literary device, not the point. The point is the society, the world she lives in, the author’s desire to make the read think and compare the book with things in our OWN lives, society, and world.

      There’s not a “hero”, just a person leading us through the lessons the author wants us to hear. We have to decide if they are worth listening to.

      1. “There’s not a “hero”, just a person leading us through the lessons the author wants us to hear. We have to decide if they are worth listening to.”

        Exactly. And I think that’s what Wilson was saying. Katniss was just a person who changed with the whim of the author so she could teach us the lesson the author wanted to teach. This makes for bad fiction.

        1. Katie Stewart says:

          Except, Sally, that you seem to want the same thing. You want a character who teaches a lesson the author wants to teach, you just want that lesson to be one of redemption.

          I guess I’m one of those crazy English majors who doesn’t think “what the author wants” is paramount- or even knowable. What matters more is what the reader finds there, and how that knowledge interacts with their worldview.

          1. Well, I read the Bible trying to figure out what the Author wanted and I read men made in his image trying to see what they want, too. I think we should all try to figure out what authors are trying to say. Otherwise communication is kind of…worthless. We can all just misunderstand one another and go happily on our way.

            And, yes, I’m all for teaching lessons in fiction. But they have to be taught with skill. To manipulate characters and make them act in a way contrary to their human nature is not the right way to do it.

            In Mockingjay the protagonist was a depressed, whiny, mean, murderer, who was comatose or asleep for half the book. This is just bad fiction. No, I didn’t like the message, but even if I’d have loved the message I would still the book was bad.

    2. J.R. says:

      “THG will uncritically reject anything that doesn’t praise the books”
      Huh? A book is going to reject something? What does that mean?

  66. Megan says:

    The reviewer mentions liking C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain and Tom Wolfe, authors who have written complex and flawed male characters, but generally one-dimensional female characters, either purely good or purely evil (think Twain’s Joan of Ark or Jadis in the Chronicles of Narnia). Not to judge too harshly: flat female characters are typical of male authors, perhaps subtly revealing the author’s own attitudes toward women. However, writers incapable of empathizing with half of humanity should perhaps not be touted as “students of humanity”.

    That N.D. Wilson happens to prefer male authors and protagonists isn’t a problem: most men do. That he so objectifies women as to view a complex character like Katniss as “evil” IS a problem.

    I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s never read anything about the Holocaust. Psychologists have long known there’s a point at which humans succumb to a sort of Stockholm Syndrome and do whatever it takes to survive. This is essentially what “The Hunger Games” is about. I wouldn’t call it dystopian, because current events like Abu Ghraib show it doesn’t actually take much to push people over the edge.

    I was especially impressed by this line: “Oppressive regimes are not threatened by people who do what they are told,” which seemed inconsistent on a site where submission to church authority and church discipline are regular items of discussion, in a church culture where Christians are regularly told how to vote and in a society where polls show regular church attendence is correllated with a higher level of approval for torture.

    I guess I don’t see how the flawed to the core values of The Hunger Games differ much from those of American Christianity.

    1. Um… Lucy and Susan Pevensie were not one-dimensional.

    2. Lori says:

      Extremely insightful comment. And I’d venture to guess that if the gender roles had been reversed–if the Katniss role were taken by a male, and Peeta’s by a female–this review would have been significantly different. Katniss doesn’t act like a proper complementarian woman, and Peeta doesn’t act like a proper male head. I do think a lot of the negativity in the review boils down to that.

      1. JR says:

        Lori, I totally agree with this: “Katniss doesn’t act like a proper complementarian woman, and Peeta doesn’t act like a proper male head. I do think a lot of the negativity in the review boils down to that”
        That and also the one-dimensional worldviewism grid that presuppositionalists apply to every scenario. Good call and insightful too.

  67. Steve says:

    I don’t mean to be disagreeable, but I disagree completely. I don’t think Wilson understands the role and importance of Prim as Katniss’ primary motivation (hence the switch from self-sacrifice to self-preservation). I also don’t think he understands the mentality of a 16 year old girl whose father was murdered by the state, whose mother shut down and whose government keeps her and her kid sister at the brink of starvation (though who can understand such a girl? But Collins explores it nonetheless, and does so brilliantly). Furthermore, I don’t think Wilson understood the intended genre! The Hunger Games–the entire trilogy (wonder if Wilson read books two and three?), was written to be a modern day tragedy, a la Shakespeare. It was never intended to be a happy-ending kind of story where a radical revolutionary triumphs over a despot and then rides off into the sunset or dies happy with “mission accomplished” on his mind. It was written to chronicle the descent of a tormented teen into madness while still retaining a shred of virtue, though used as a pawn by both sides of a conflict much larger than herself. Gladiator left you feeling inspired by a hero who gives his life for an ideal. The Hunger Games (the complete story) leaves you in tears over a girl who was utterly deprived of everything we take for granted, but somehow managed to at least stay alive. Wilson may understand Hollywood better, but Collins has a lock on something much deeper. Shakespeare’s bread and butter was the tragedy. I believe it initially fell out of favor because the culture decided it didn’t like sad stories. Today’s culture has decided it likes REAL stories, and there are far too many real human tragedies in the lives of teens today to ignore the fact that tragedy is in fact real. Collins got very, very honest with this story, which is why it struck such a deep chord.

    My own complaints about THG are twofold. First, I wanted more–it seemed rushed at times, with entire days passing in but a few words. Some transitions were abrupt, seemingly for the sake of keeping up the pace of the action (which was break-neck). But she understood her younger audience well, so I can understand it. I’d just prefer the real adult version that explores things in a little more depth, even at the expense of slowing things down a tad. Secondly, from the Christian perspective, the utter exclusion of any sense of divine presence was glaring. It’s an entirely secular-humanistic story, and it was profoundly sad to watch the main character trudge on with absolutely no hope of real redemption. That made it a difficult story to endure, but then again–it was supposed to be a tragedy! So well played, Ms. Collins. Don’t sweat the Hollywood detractors.

  68. Shaun S. says:

    The only issue I take with people getting upset about THE HUNGER GAMES is that the only reason that anyone is looking at it is because it’s so popular. There are many, many other things that I would say are much, much worse for our teens and children than THE HUNGER GAMES, that no one is approaching. TV shows such as FAMILY GUY or AMERICAN DAD that thousands, if not millions, of people are watching, that has blatant disregard for anything Jesus and outright sexuality. Or there are much more subtle things such as DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, which glorifies rebellion and disobedience to parents, lying to friends and making fun of them, and even sneaking into the girl’s bathroom to look at girls. Or look at the new film BRAVE coming out in the summer that so far represents a daughter who blatantly disobeys her mother. These things seem much more threatening to me than THE HUNGER GAMES, which does show how evil the violence is, and just how terrible this situation is.

    1. CFloyd says:

      Absolutely agree!!

  69. PLTK says:

    I have to say, the attack on Peeta seems to come from a Mark Driscollish mentality–unless you are kicking butt, slapping people others around and being domineering you aren’t a “real man.”

    1. Lori says:

      Exactly. It’s ignoring that, especially in the first book, Peeta is motivated primarily by a desire to protect Katniss. Everything he does, he does to keep her safe. He would do anything to protect her, including laying down his own life (which is what he had intended from the beginning to do). Now, could he have found better ways to protect than he did? Probably. But these are teens in a horrific situation who have really never known anything than the struggle to survive. And yet still both are so moved by love that they are willing to set that aside (Katniss for her sister, Peeta for Katniss).

      Peeta, like all the characters, is flawed. But I think his love for Katniss and willingness to lay down his life to save hers puts him a whole lot close to acting like an Ephesians 5 man than if he’d demonstrated the kind of domineering, macho posturing that has come to define “real” masculinity both for the culture at large and for a certain type of Driscollish Reformed Christianity.

  70. Dan S says:

    Ok. I agree with most of the push back in these comments. I like WIlson, but I think he is missing some crucial points. Nevertheless, I agree with him wholeheartedly that Katniss is remarkably inconsistent in her character. The girl who heedlessly runs into danger to protect her enemies is the same girl who doesn’t flinch to shoot an innocent, unarmed women she comes upon accidentally?! The girl who makes a pact to protect Peeta at all cost has no grace for him after he’s been brainwashed?! The girl who reads into other people’s motives to almost remarkable precision at times is also the girl who is consistently oblivious to Peeta and Gale’s affections?! I realize Katniss is supposed to be a flawed, conflicted, and reluctant revolutionary, but there is a difference between conflicted and random. Sometimes she’s just random, which drove me crazy while reading the books. I think Collins did some good things in the books, but the character of Katniss was not one of them.

    1. Oh, yes! This is why I hated Mockingjay. Her sister was smarter than she was.

      The minute Katniss blew away the lady at the closet, knowing that she was probably a civilian, I felt like the author was just preaching at me.

      Instead of letting the characters be who they were, she made them act the way she wanted so she could further her agenda, which was to tell us (at that point) that our soldiers are doing horrendous things in the Middle East.

      Whenever you have a character who acts out of character like that, it’s a tip off that the author is making them do things because she wants to push a message. It’s fine for an author to have a message, but she needs to get it across without violating the characters.

      And the way Katniss treated Peeta was reprehensible.

      1. CFloyd says:

        Well… what excatly would you have done if you’ve been through these various battles – the Hunger Games twice – and now you’ve got Coin and Snow wanting you dead. You’ve just watched a few of your own crew get slaughtered, and you’ve recently been trained by “the other side of the coin” to be a soldier. Was Katniss supposed to put her hand over the ladies’ mouth and then tie her up with some sort of mechanism that would release her 72hrs later? I don’t know why Collins has anyone in the apartment at all, except as you say, to point out things happen in war. But it doesn’t go against Katniss arching. She’s turning into something she never wanted to me, so is Gale, so did Peeta. THAT was part of the point too. Collins’ father didn’t come home the same person he went to war as. And while he got better he never could go back to “before the war”. It’s a big deal – so the author says. I agree Sally, that we should always be looking at author intent, not the new-age teaching of only look for what the books means to you.

        The other points by Dan – unconditional love for Prim, with no room or grace for Peeta – is explained in the book. A fascinating example of what does happen in people sometimes: Peeta started the whole love thing, by loving Katniss unconditionally. Katniss didn’t love him back in like-manner from the beginning, she loved him because he first loved her. She found security in knowing nothing could shake his love for her – not her actions or flaws, not anyone else – she thought. It was a shock to her, and she didn’t want to have to face the reality about who she was in Peeta’s new-found criticsms of her.

        She has a hunter’s instinct about people yes. But she from the beginning wasn’t “oblivious” to Peeta and Gale’s feelings, she didn’t want to deal with the implications. She’s only ever dealt with the practical since her dad died and her mom “checked out” – this being more emotionally devastating and stunting than her dad’s dying. And it plays into her dealing with Peeta and Gale. It was already coming close to that time in her life when guys were going to start choosing to someone to marry – Gale was 1 year away from the mines. In their society any relationships weren’t superfluous, if you loved each other and wanted to try to make it work in the Seam, you married. Katniss didn’t want children and made a decision at a younger age to never marry, love, or have children. Only love Prim – the love she could control. But here come’s Gale offering to run away, and she avoids that, but the Hunger Games and Peeta throw a whole other aspect into her mix.

        She has a hard time dealing with their feelings because she doesn’t do feelings, or dealing with them. So, she’s “stunted”, she’s behind the curve because she doesn’t want to deal, and she doesn’t know how. This is a realistic problem within human nature.

        I didn’t find Collins’ dealing of Katniss and her humanity random.

        I felt like sometimes she over expalined instead of letting the reading figure it out or have a feeling about it.

        1. Dan S says:

          I agree that Collins offered explanations, and often too many explanations, for Katniss’ behavior. I just find them rather unconvincing. Katniss is at the brink of insanity over what the capital has done to Peeta, and then suddenly she speaks as if she doesn’t care whether he lives or dies?! I understand the internal conflict going on. I’m not saying having grace for Peeta should be easy. But she is either all one way or the other. She is either driven to extremes in desire to protect or driven to extreme coldness to his suffering. I don’t think she should be sweet and gentle with him. That would be out of character too. But to be so callous to a guy who has gone through unspeakable torture mainly because of his love for her is just not believable in my opinion.

          And I don’t know how you could say Katniss wasn’t oblivious to Peeta’s feelings. Every character, all of Panem, every reader knew what Peeta’s intentions were before long Katness figured it out. In fact, at one point Collins was so overdoing Katniss’ confusion that I almost stopped reading. I couldn’t take it anymore. There is a difference between reluctance, even refusal (all of which was completely understandable), and oblivion. “Is Peeta acting, or does he really mean it?” Come on! Even her “hunter’s instinct” should’ve tipped her off to that.

          1. CFloyd says:

            I say she is oblivious because that’s what the author is saying every time she has Katniss pretend she is. That’s what she means. It’s avoidance at the highest level. I’ve been avoided in my time, and I’ve been the avoider.

            The book, i.e. the author, gives the explanation of Katniss’ attitude toward Peeta once he’s tried to kill her. She didn’t like that he saw her as she really is. And then later the author has Haymitch come to terms with her treatment of him and that she had forgotten the pact she made with Haymitch: to save Peeta. from that point on she changes her attitude toward him.

            I just didn’t have a problem with it. It is what the author made it.

        2. “Well… what excatly would you have done if you’ve been through these various battles”

          Fiction is not real life. It’s not supposed to be real life. The characters are supposed to be larger than life. More evil, more brave, more whatever.

          But I really didn’t enter this conversation to discuss the books so much as I entered it because I was surprised so many people disagreed with Wilson, while I was nodding my head as I read his comments.

          He saw in the first book that Katniss was not a hero. I didn’t see that until the third book. I wish I’d seen it much earlier and quit reading.

          Your question about how Katniss could have dealt with the civilian, is meant to prove that she was acting in character, I think. Any decent person would have chosen to be killed rather than kill an innocent woman, obviously. But was it believable that Katniss was so indecent because she’d seen so much ugliness?

          The Katniss I thought I knew would not have killed an innocent person and then gone through the rest of the book, never once thinking about it. But the Katniss in book three was very different from the Katniss in book one. Early on, Katniss was smart and a planner, and she had a will to live, while the Katniss in book three was stupid, indecisive, and ambivalent. The few times she made decisions, she made the wrong ones.

          She didn’t blow the woman away because she needed to. She did it because she thought, “Hmm, she might be a civilian, but I don’t want to take the time to ask her, so I’ll just shoot her dead.” And then she went on with her life.

          This was a violation of everything the author had made me believe about Katniss. I saw that she would kill in self-defense and I saw that she would kill thinking it was merciful, but I never thought she would kill an innocent person for no reason whatsoever. (She could have tied her up, she could have injured her and not killed her, she could have punched her and knocked her out and then gone on her way.)

          There was no excuse for her to kill the women, and there was no remorse afterward.

          It made me hate her, sure. But more than that, I felt betrayed by the author. I had labored through three volumes, and in the end she gives me a katniss who is despicable.

          I understand that Collins’s father came home broken and suffered from PTSS. But some people don’t come home with PTSS. Katniss should have been better. The first two books were dystopian, yes. But they were also what I call kick-ass-heroine books. These books are very popular now with YA girls. And that’s what Collins set us up to expect. That’s why you see young girls taking up archery since the movie came out. They want to be like Katniss. They don’t want to be like the Katniss who sits for months in the rocking chair without taking a shower. They want to be like the Katniss who loved her family and her friends, and who was willing to fight for justice.

          Collins chose to have her character devolve and that’s her right. I didn’t join this conversation to diss Collins.

          The only reason I joined this conversation is that I was so surprised that so many people thought Wilson was wrong.

          I think he’s right. I think Collins started with a strong character and made her weak. And if you are going to do that, you ought to paint the character so it’s believable. You need to show that she’s prideful, full of anger and unforgiveness, and she’s selfish. Instead Collins made it like she was good and she only went bad because war is hell. This is not really a true take on human nature. I think Wilson was right about that.

          War makes heroes. War doesn’t always make all soldiers shell-shocked, empty, people. That’s a secular, humanist, liberal view. War is never good, unless it’s a just war. And katniss’s war was just. In Collins’s mind, though, it seems there is no just war and we are all evil.

          But war, and any kind of hardship, strengthens character in some, while it brings out the bankruptcy in the characters of others. The guy in Gladiator got better. His character grew. People often do grow when faced with dire circumstances. They cry out to God, the dig deep, they do noble things.

          Not in Hunger Games. In Hunger Games the hardship destroyed them all. They were all bankrupt.

          That is not a realistic picture of human nature.

          I may be reading Wilson wrong, but that’s what I thought he was saying. And if so, then I agree with him.

          1. CFloyd says:

            Right fiction isn’t real life, but the author is writing satire and dystopia to show us things about real life – like the fact you agree with – not everyone acts or comes home a hero. And, heroes can be broken too. Heros can make mistakes too. This isn’t regular fiction. She wants to point to reality. And as the author she doesn’t want to point to the pretty parts. Didn’t God use the commandmens to point to our sin I’m not equating the Bible to Hunger Games vice/versa, I’m saying the model is the same – use the reverse to point out and define the subject.

            That’s what she wanted to write, that doesn’t make it wrong just because you “want” Katniss to be an arch-typal hero. That was never Collin’s point. And I think she wanted to draw the reader in by making them love Katniss in the 1st book, so it would matter to them what happens to her by the 3rd.

            Think of how Collins must have felt when her dad came home. Audy Murphy, one of the most celebrated good guys and heroes of WWII, came home a broken, nigh-mare-ridden man the rest of his days. He never got past his issues.

            War DOES change even the heros. I didn’t know my dad before Vietnam, he was always a good man in my eyes. But my mom said he came home changed and had the nightmares so much so she couldn’t sleep with him because he’s grab hold of her in a flashback. I have no idea if he ever was in a sitation with a civilian especially since the differences were so few sometimes. In a moment, after going through some intense fighting or bombing, who knows that he might not have shot first and thought later? And I do believe in the book, Katniss is made to say, she’ll have to add that to her list and deal with the guilt of killing that woman later but she just didn’t have time right that moment.

            You can’t compare Gladiator to Hunger Games. They aren’t meant to be in the same genre. This is dystopia. The point IS to use a character to satirize and critize our current issues. Collins didn’t fool anyone or do a bait and switch. Hardly anyone picks up the books and doesn’t understand dystopia – or hasn’t heard the premise of the books. If they did, they certainly researched or heard about it afterward. Or just went ahead misunderstanding the books.

            Wilson’s point never addressed the fact of the books being dystopia with a purpose of not having a typical hero as part of the criticism. It wasn’t a broken book where evil is good and good is evil and you are inticed to do the evil, it’s a healing book where there is some good at the end and much to think about.

            I’m sorry you were so disappointed in Katniss as a character. But she served the purpose she was created for. The first time I read through it I felt like I’d been hit by a bomb I was so shell-shocked. I even knew it was dystopia, but I didnt’ know I would care so much for the character – It’s like Bridge to Tarybithia-I’m sure I butchered spelling-I was absolutely taken back with that plot twist – and that was the point. That book is dealing with one thing, but the author couldn’t make you deal with it if you didn’t first love the characters. When I closed Mockingjay, I was depressed, crying and sad for this generation of people/children who don’t have a lot of “happily ever after” stories. I thought: I don’t want my children growin up without them. But after going through my stages of “grief” :) and reading it again I could better deal with and make sense of what the author did and what she was trying to say.

            I’m not a “peace at all cost” person – I don’t have a large problem with war when necessary and believing it is necessary sometimes. But I don’t feel overly preached at by her on this issue. I see a bigger whole – how we even get to that type of society that controls by force and entertainment.

            I have a problem with Wilson’s “analysis” because it isn’t that. It’s his personal bent against the books. And his complete avoidance of acknowledging the genre as the reason for his “issues” with heroes. I just don’t know any dystopia where the hero is always good, always great, and makes everything all better. Because then it wouldn’t be dystopia. At least thins one isn’t about a sexual revolution. ;P

          2. I just don’t know any dystopia where the hero is always good, always great, and makes everything all better

            Who is demanding that? Who even hinted at such a thing?

            Do you know what the message of The Bridge to Terabithia is? “God don’t send little girls to hell.” That was her thesis statement. That was her purpose for writing the book. To tell the world that little girls who say that the story of Jesus is a beautiful fairy tale, don’t go to hell.

            I wept over the book, too. Wept buckets. Because I loved Jess and I grieved with him. Then I wrote a review of the book, telling parents to not let their children read it alone. It was a book that was supposed to make you think that any God who would send a twelve-year-old girl to hell for not believing the Bible was a perversion of the real, loving God, and any church that taught such a thing was not better than an ignorant, bratty six-year-old.

          3. CFloyd says:

            Oh,I surely didn’t know the Terabithia thesis is God loves EVERYONE by not sending those who don’t call upon him in truth hell. My son and I read it and thought it was about dealing with the loss of a loved one. I didn’t catch the whole universal God thing. Neither did my son.

            And, it seems by Wilson’s post and yours that you two want some perfect character/role model whether the genre calls for it or not. Katniss was not set up as a perfect character without flaw and then the author labotomized her. She was flawed from the beginning, and she the author brought about the muttation of her and Peeta. I think that is one of her themes – muttations – of society, people, things, places. Peeta said he didn’t want the games to change him, and Katniss began to understand what he meant, but she didn’t prevent it from happening to her. Because the real games started after the berries. Snow was playing with her and so was Coin.

            Anyway, to each his own on analysis and so forth. I don’t want you to feel I’m arguing with you on every point. I very much enjoyed this discussion and learned a great deal. Thanks for following up so often!

          4. I don’t know if she’s a universalist or if she holds to an age of accountability. I’d guess the second. But the girl clearly heard the story of Christ’s sacrifice and thought it was beautiful but untrue. Paterson contrasted that with the bratty six-year-old who believed the truth but presented God in a harsh and unmerciful light. And clearly, the message was that to love the beauty while rejecting the truth was better than loving the truth while missing the beauty.

            It’s a false dichotomy. Beauty and truth go hand in hand. You cannot love beauty while rejecting truth and you cannot love truth while rejecting beauty.

            Again…no one asked for Katniss to be a perfect character without flaw.

            Thank you, too. I’ve enjoyed the discussion. I’m supposed to be working on other things, of course. But I’m so easily diverted.

  71. Tamie Davis says:

    I’m bemused by Wilson’s expectation that Katniss act consistently. I think that’s a pretty optimistic (and, to be honest, unbiblical) anthropology. Human beings are complex, both wonderfully image-bearers and, sadly, marred to the core. We both desire justice and perpetuate injustice.

    Humans’ worldviews are often irrational and our behaviour baffling. I think that’s something Collins captures quite well and it’s something that Katniss is aware of, confused by, and battling with.

  72. Brandon says:

    Came back to look for Wilson’s response and am disheartened to see that there never was one. It makes it hard to consider taking anything he rights seriously when he seems to have gotten this review so wrong (as 100+ comments will attest) and is unwilling to respond or at least acknowledge that.

  73. Brent White says:

    Sorry I’m late on this… I only just skimmed the 100+ comments, but the criticism of the review is well-deserved. I don’t get the author’s point. First, if he agrees that Collins is a good writer and this book has real merit as literature, what’s the complaint about her getting so many aspects of human nature wrong? Good writers aren’t good writers if they misunderstand human nature.

    By all means, the premise behind the Hunger Games is ghastly. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I don’t believe that the world that Collins creates is likely to come to pass. Nevertheless, given _this world_, I find Katniss’s behavior realistic, consistent, and—after a fashion—heroic. Not unambiguously so, but isn’t that also like real life? I supposed the “Christian” thing to do would have been for her to simply step off the arena platform before the countdown had finished, refusing to participate in the bloodletting. Or to have stood still after the games began and let other people murder her. But that would seem incredibly unrealistic.

    As for Tom Wolfe asking the author about the book and then “blinking in confusion” after hearing about the “primary plot points”… Good heavens! I think I’ll read a Cliff’s Notes of _Bonfire of the Vanities_ and decide whether the book is any good. Wolfe is literate. Couldn’t he read it for himself fairly quickly and form his own conclusion. I suspect he might even learn something about the craft of writing, since Collins is pretty good at it! As it is, “blinking in confusion” isn’t a valid critique.

  74. CFloyd says:

    Congratulations on navigating our commental Hunger Games. :P I agree that to actually Tell Tom Wolfe the synopsis – as a report and not a personal grievance – would give him a better opportunity to have a reaction worth noting. But still, I you say, I would be more impressed with Tom’s own analysis, not his blinking to a jaded, chopped, one-sided perspective summary.

  75. Reuben Edelstein says:

    So, if I’m reading this correctly, the OP is upset that the author of The Hunger Games books has created characters who don’t make consistent choices?

    What teenager makes consistent choices? Or has a fully mature, developed ability for critical thinking? Any undergrad in a psychology program (or a veteran parent) will tell you that teenagers are notorious for making poor choices. Additionally, it seems as though Katniss isn’t a Christian in the books. Why would we expect her to act like one?

    If these teenage characters were written as fully developed, mature individuals who experience no doubt or inconsistency in thought and deed, I would argue that *then* the books would suffer.

    It sounds like Mr. Wax prefers ideal, unrealistic, unrelatable main characters. His last paragraph, however, is spot on. Hunger Games, like many other entertainment properties, doesn’t need to be overtly Christian to serve as a catalyst for discussion.

  76. Caleb Roberts says:

    Disclaimer: I have not read any of the books, but I think that this may oddly give me a slight advantage of objectivity in reviewing this article on its own terms, since I don’t have a vested interest in the Hunger Games being one type of story or another.

    Given this, I think people are getting distracted by the article’s unfortunate incoherence and misleading title in responding with specific details from the story that supposedly refute his criticisms. Simply put, there is a big difference between a story and people’s responses to a story; in fact, they’re two completely different things. Consequently, one can criticize examples of the latter without even touching the former. And when you read Wilson’s article, it is clear that his beef is mostly with what he sees to be unwarranted responses/conclusions regarding the story and specifically, the character of Katniss. Wilson is disturbed by people blindly lauding Katniss as a self-sacrificial character and offers a pretty convincing argument showing that Katniss is, at best, only accidentally self-sacrificial. His second point follows suit and objects to readers’ defenses of Katniss’ actions on the grounds that she was a victim on which grounds she should be absolved of her sins. But again, these two criticisms have nothing to do with the literary elements of the Hunger Games. If Wilson can prove from the story that Katniss is neither self-sacrificial nor worthy of absolution and that perceptions of her as such are therefore unwarranted, that’s fine and dandy. But, just as if some readers of the Lord of the Rings pictured Frodo as being 6 feet tall and fine-haired, and someone came around and cited examples from the books proving otherwise, the objector wouldn’t be commenting on the Lord of the Rings, but only upon a certain unwarranted conclusion about it.

    The problem is that it is unclear whether Wilson is aware of this distinction in his article as he incoherently switches between criticisms of certain interpretations of the book and criticisms of the book itself, the very title indicating the latter. The third bullet point is the only criticism that actually amounts to a literary criticism, one that is located within the space of the Hunger Games story itself instead of between the story and readers’ conclusions. And upon completing his third point, Wilson returns right back to his exhortation to readers in how they go about reading and interpreting stories. And with his last sentence, he almost makes my point for me by insinuating that the author did a more or less fine job in story-writing, it’s just that we as the readers were too incompetent to interpret it correctly.

    But again, this is the flaw of Wilson’s review. He postures it as a criticism of the story itself but instead spends most of the article objecting to certain unwarranted conclusions about the characters. And since a conclusion about a story is distinct from the story itself, the article should have been titled something like, “Why the Majority Opinion About the Hunger Games is Flawed…”

  77. Scott M says:

    Very good observations about the switches. But I have to disagree with your take on the faux revolution. I would have been inclined to agree before December 2010, but if a young Tunisian fruit seller has taught us anything it is that setting yourself on fire in protest can inspire all kinds of revolution (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen,…). Apparently the World does work that way on occasion.

  78. Randy says:

    I have never heard such unintelligent garbage. All human beings have the potential to be self-less and caring one moment, and the very next when there’s, or a loved one’s life is threatened, become a cold selfish killer. I read all the book’s, and watched the movie. I for one was very worried about watching children, kill one another. I felt they did a good job of not really showing the graphic deaths.
    Again, anyone put in a killed or be killed situation, no matter how loving and unselfish that person is, they will kill or be killed. Killing in this kind of circumstance, does not make you any less of a christian. My personal feeling is if you believe that, as a christian you must put everyone’s life before your’s, then you have a very big misunderstanding, of what living for Christ is.

  79. Hannah says:

    1.Read all three of the books.
    2.Read all of the books. And the Gregor the Overlander series.
    That will fix the issue with her mercy kills etc. Katniss has to face and live with her decisions. Also, removing the tracker is not a thought out method-there were cameras EVERYWHERE. The Capitol was smarter than that. They did defeat all 13 districts, have all the tech, and have run the Games for 74? years. And know who Katniss was related to. And had the ability to set the entire arena on fire and kill everyone. Ahem.
    3. Realize that the author is not portraying Katniss as the perfect heroine. This series is a commentary on our society, where it is and s heading, and how one of us might act if put in the situation. Katniss does pay for the flaws pointed out in book one.
    4. Read the other books before judging the characters, especially Peeta. Peet and Gale undergo character changes that are interesting.. And remember these are kids. 16 years old I believe?
    5. Her act of kindness and humanity at the *one* death (if you have read it, you know) did more to spark rebellion than the berries. The berries won the ditzy Capitol obsessed-with-drama people over, thus making it impossible to kill Katniss and Peeta at that time.
    6. These books show us how our society is creeping into the Gladiator type society. Numbed to death, entertained by death. If people are reading the stories or watching the movie and cheering for Katniss to win as we all did for the main character in Gladiator, they missed it and have become one of the Capitol types.
    7. The story is one of the only ones I’ve read that gives an example of how society actually is or could be. Because no matter how much humans want a well run, perfect society, or selfless individuals, or true love…,our instinct is sin. Evil. Selfishness. All other fiction preaches that humans are basically good if you dig down deep enough.
    So, in Hunger Games, governments grew corrupt, good intentions (Katniss wanting to take care of one’s family, wanting to live safely) become clouded (knowing that everyone will end up dying but one, and therefore sadly being glad that you were not faced with the choice of killing a friend).
    Have you ever been with a friend during a hard time, they are crying on your shoulder, and an unwanted thought pops up-how much longer will they cry, or do they have to be this dramatic, or is their makeup smearing on my dress?
    My point- heroes would never say or think that. Right? Yet I think Susanne Collins (in her own way) discovered for herself that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (at the base of everyone) and that on our own, we can not fix everything or be the person that we want to be.
    * We are broken people in a broken world, and left to itself, there is little chance that will change.*

    1. CFloyd says:

      Oh my gosh – Number 7? Brilliant. Nate Wilson would have every hero heroic on his own – with his logic – but as you have said, THG TRILOGY – the “Rest of the Story” – shows that all humanity is depraved without a Savior. Even the “good guys” are bad.

      Here! Here!

  80. Emily M. says:

    I really don’t think anyone should comment on The Hunger Games unless they have read all three books. The story truly is a trilogy, and is not complete with a partial reading. While I agree that Katniss is not a character who inspires me, I actually loved the books mostly because of how the story is tied together in Mockingjay. Without giving too much away, various events make it clear that the problem is not just the Capitol- it’s humanity- Katniss, the rebels, and the capital all share the same evil. I think the books offer a great opportunity to discuss sin nature with people who may have never thought about it before. I also think the book reveals the atrocities of war for all sides, and that this is a good wake up call for many Americans who assume that all of our causes are just, and that certain practices are acceptable if they are for a greater good (usually our good).

  81. Anonymous says:


    Actually the entire trilogy is about all the ways in which authority can lie to you. It has little to do with the bravery of Katniss or the realism of the war she is fighting in.

  82. Sungyak says:

    Faux revolution may be a good point. The civilization in the novel is called ‘Panem’ meaning ‘bread.’ It comes from the Latin phrase ‘panem et circenses.’ It was the Roman way of keeping their people subjects by providing them ‘bread and games.’ What I agree that we aren’t ‘reading’ is the mirror image of our own culture in this picture.

  83. PaulVan says:

    I think what might be bothering Wilson the way Christians and people in general seem to be responding to these books.

    If 90% of the Christian readers were saying, “This subject is truly disturbing. I didn’t really enjoy the book as much as I was provoked by this book to think and consider some of the deeper realities of my own heart and the patterns of society,” then I think WIlson would not be so stirred up in his critique.

    But I think that Wilson has been stirred by the fact that so many Christian readers are coming away from these books with responses like, “Cool books.” In other words, WIlson finds it disturbing that so many seem to be coldly unmoved by the terrible realities the books are portraying, but merely entertained by it.

    So his critique is a blending of two things: criticism of the book and a veiled critique of Christian (and modern America’s) undiscerning appetite when it comes to literature of this sort. The reason for caution is not simply in the reading of the book, but the passive acceptance of its contents as if it is merely a fun read. I’m not sure that Wilson separated those two issues in his mind very well before writing this critique. I think he’s attempting to use a single-voiced critique to satisfy two separate conversations.

    I wouldn’t be averse to reading it, or for my older children to read it, if they are able to engage it well and have conversations with Mom and Dad (for instance) about what they think about what they are reading. I think that some of the most valuable books I have ever read are the ones that disturbed me the most.

    So, yes … I find it disturbing as well … on both counts. Disturbing content in the book, for sure. But perhaps more disturbing is the common response I am seeing … apathetic enjoyment without critique.

  84. Benjamin says:

    The point of the whole trilogy is that all men are morally reprehensible. So the main character is morally reprehensible yet her selfishness leads to the destruction of a tyrannical system (only to be replaced by another tyrannical system). The cynicism doesn’t sit well with Christians, but it is at least coherent.

  85. Daniel Paul Caughill says:

    The last paragraph on the philosophy of reading and analyzing a story directly contradicts C.S. Lewis’ philosophy on reading and story telling. Lewis says to get lost in the story–let it absorb you–and when you stop forcing your opinions onto the story and really get swept away, you’ll see what the author wants you to see. Later you can intuitively agree or disagree with what and how the author communicated, but not until you’ve given him or her the chance; an interesting thought considering the author cited Lewis’ storytelling in his article.

  86. Rob K says:

    It sounds to me as though someone has been eating the sour grapes. As someone else stated, you need to read the trilogy to fully understand the story. To say that Katniss should have cut out the tracker in her arm and played by her own rules tells me that you don’t understand that she didn’t have that luxury. Hard to play by your own rules when everyone else is playing by the Gameskeepers’. Nate, I suggest you go back to debunking Christian idolatry.

  87. Ben K says:

    Thanks for the analysis! This post pretty much summarizes my thoughts on the first book and my reasons for not continuing on to the second and third books (much to my wife’s chagrin). I simply do not find Katniss, Peeta, or any of the other characters to be compelling or worthy of admiration or emulation. I believe that an underlying selfishness exists in the characters’ motives and I believe that the “threat” that Katniss plays to the status quo is fabricated overstatement. I read scores of dystopian/totalitarian novels in my youth and Collins’ book falls toward the bottom-middle of the pack. Katniss is a rebel but her selfishness prevents her from becoming truly heroic. A true hero(ine) of a dystopia sheds, rather than adopts, the societal norms and begins to transcend society itself, and, in doing so, influences others to join in the uprising. Katniss does not do this.

    And don’t give me the “You have to read all of the books” nonsense. If the flagship book of a series fails to accurately represent one (or two or three) of the main characters, then I’ll pass on the rest of the series.

  88. Tracy says:

    So let me get this straight…you expect the characters in a set of books that was a trilogy from the get-go to do all of their developing in the first book and then be amazingly wonderful and static for the rest of the series? Or worse yet, know everything and make all the right choices right out of the gate? Where are the lessons in that? Humans are continuously changing and growing, adapting as the conditions of our world are revealed to us. We are notoriouisly inconsistent at times, especially as teenagers. And this story is told through the eyes of a sixteen year old girl. Sometimes by slow degrees. It’s fine if you didn’t like the books, we are all, of course, entitled to our own opinions and interpretations of literature. Altough, just because someone else was able to glean meaning from a book that others find no meaning in does not make them passive or unintelligent readers. It is merely a reflection of the variation of worldviews and opinions we each hold.

  89. Avery Strasser says:

    I’m sorry but I had to comment about a mistake in Quick Switch 1. When you said Katniss was relieved that someone killed Rue because she was going to do it in the end is not true. I think Katniss would have killed herself before she would ever kill Rue. Second of all when Katniss kills innocent people it shows that we are all flawed. Personally I do not like stories where the hero is perfect. It shows how ruthless the Capitol is by even turning our hero into a monster. It makes it seem like the grip of the Capitol is so powerful that no one can escape it and I think that is what Collins was trying to do.

  90. Kyle Howard says:

    I agree with him in some aspects. Especially in the last book but I think he is guilty of the very thing he is claiming Collins is doing but even more so. He is living in a Black & White world and the ethics of the real world doesn’t live there. Gladiator was completely unrealistic, definitely more unrealistic than Hunger Games. In virtually any circumstance, the gladiator would have certainly killed or been killed. They depicted this Roman Gladiator as a Christlike figure without any Christ nor Christianity as a source of his morality. Even still. should we have faulted him for killing instead of being killed in a gladiatorial game? Should he have just stood there and waited to die? Should we have expected this Gentile to act Christianly?

    He faults Katniss (The Character) for dropping hornets on a bunch of kids that are sleeping below waiting for her to come down so they can all slash her throat. What a terrible person? The reality is that Hunger games is much more realistic to the human experience than he is giving Credit for. A 16 year old girl, not christian who has suffered the circumstances endured in the story would be expected to act inconsistently and irrationally. Furthermore, who said Katniss was supposed to be a hero? She was a deeply flawed and irrationally thinking girl trying to survive. People saw one side of her (via media) and coined her a hero but I don’t think the book ever presented her that way. He is a Brilliant writer but he missed the whole point of the books. Katniss was not a hero. She was a lost and broken girl trying to survive in a crazy perverse world. The author never portrays her as a hero. The author portrays her as a messed up and emotionally inconsistent girl. The narrative also shows the power of media to present a false picture of a person. The story was never about a hero, the story was about how a lost person, with no moral foundation, tries to survive in the world. The redemptive value in the book comes from recognizing what the world would be like without Christian foundational Christian morality (in a post-Christian world).

  91. Ryan says:

    Sorry, I don’t have time to read all 230 comments, but…

    A) Regarding how Katniss flip-flops as self-sacrificial to self-interest and how she should fight against the games rather than stooping to their violence: How can you expect an emotionally scarred 16(?) year old with no parental influence to have a fully framed moral compass?

    B) The suggest of the rape games was offensive enough without the pleasant sidenote of “at least the other kids would have survived.” Repugnant. Any hint of credibility is lost.

    I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  92. hjeffus says:

    This article is incredibly flawed and I have to wonder if this man even read the books. Katniss actually did not want to start a revolution, and did her damnedest to try to convince the people and most importantly Snow that her love for Peeta was real so that things would calm down and she could be left alone by the Capital. Is that the behavior of someone who wants to head a revolution?
    And about self-sacrifice… Katniss did not sacrifice herself for all children. She sacrificed herself for her sister only. It was her sister she wanted to protect, and her main worry at that moment was how her family would be cared for if she died in the games. Her motivation was actually self-preservation in the games and if the author had any clue how to read objectively he would have understood that.

  93. Selder says:

    I think Suzanne Collins understands the human condition far more profoundly than Nate Wilson.

  94. Ben says:

    The author is right on one thing. In the end, the Hunger Games trilogy does not have an inspirational message. It’s much more nihilistic than most narratives. Yes, people try so hard to put meaning into this story, but it just doesn’t fit. The difference from my perspective is that isn’t because of a mistake Collins made. I think she meant for it to be that way.

    1. CFloyd says:

      Ben, all dystopians inspire to warn not to make happy.

      Unlike 1984 or Atlas Shrugged, Hunger Games ends with the protagonist overcoming and the world being a better place – or starting over with a better beginning.

      Collins did use the dystopian genre on purpose because she desires to warn society about society’s propensity to teen violence, opulence at the expensive of an oppressed class by a tyrannical minority, and she does so with characters we care about – unlike 1984.

  95. “She needs to stop giving a rip about her own survival (the most dangerous men and women always forget themselves)” // Isn’t Katniss motivated to survive because she’s sure that Prim and her mom won’t make it without her???

  96. Melissa says:

    “Why this assessment is flawed to it’s core” The author of this article seems to forget one incredibly important factor is his assessment of how this story should have or would have been played out. What is glaringly missing from his assessment is the complete and utter depravity of man. To work from the assumption that had Katniss not “played the game” others would have willing followed suit is seriously flawed. All other arguments aside (and some are quite valid)the author presupposes the inherent goodness in man, and if given the opportunity and the right leader, all would choose the moral high ground. Scripture is clear, apart from the effectual and supernatural work of God, all of mankind is bound by the chains of sin and rebellion. Clearly, Collins never intended the series to be a treatise on the fallen human condition and how our only way to redemption is through the cross. What she did display, whether intentional or not, is the total depravity of the human heart, and she displayed it well. Every attitude of the heart, the author of this article speaks of, is a display of fallen man apart from the sovereign grace of the Most High God. As believers, all we encounter should be filtered through the lens of the infallible word of God, as I know all at TGC affirm. Please, in your effort to inform and counter the culture, don’t throw out arguments that fall completely short.

  97. Adam says:

    I am trying to see Wilson’s point of view, but I really think he has some serious flaws in simple logic with this critique of THG.

    1st: He treats these characters as if they were not children. And as if they have the ability to be fully aware of their actions despite chaotic circumstances. Not even full grown christian men have this abilty! David anybody? Killing a woman’s husband? How about Peter? Trying to save Jesus and Jesus calls him Satan!

    2nd: Katniss at many many times does NOT do what she is told. Saying that she does is really simply a false statement.

    3rd: Wilson really falls short in thinking fully through his perhaps biggest point in this article. That is, when he says Katniss is no heroine when she defends herself. ESPecially when he makes the analogy that what if the games were “Rape or be raped.” *face in palms.* Wilson, the outcome would be the same; Katniss kills her opponents to protect herself. If the games were, “Person with the most Baby kills wins!” Katniss would not have tried to kill the most babies….again, she would have killed her opponents to protect the babies.

    My goal is not necessarily to defend Collins, but I did enjoy The Hunger Games and I think this critique is really more about a distaste in THG. Because I think Wilson just failed in his basic reasoning for this article.

  98. Abby says:

    I agree. And most importantly, katniss isn’t Jesus, who loves everyone. She is like most people, meaning she only loves and sacrifices for the people she cares about. She is selfless and selfish at the same time. And truthfully, she isn’t a good person. She is fiercely loyal to her family, even from her early days. She doesn’t trust easily so that’s why she is cold to others. She isn’t really a good person because the author made her like that. She made her info a self preserving human. And for the part about her not being a rebel in the beginning, she NEVER wanted to become one. It’s ONLY because she rebelled in the end of book 1 by attempting to eat the poison cherries with Peeta. You can see that throughout book 3, district 13 pushed her to become the symbol of rebellion but Katniss didn’t really care about it. She just wanted to save Peeta.

  99. Judith Alexander says:

    I hate to tell you, but apparently ND was parroting the views of his father who did a review of The Hunger Games in March of 2012 at

  100. Judith Alexander says:

    Actually, I’m wrong, he does not parrot him, his father gives the book a far better review and one that I think is more relevant, but he does parrot him in using the example of The Rape Games, and I thought that was bad enough.

  101. I don’t think Mr. Wax gets it. I’m not suggesting that THG series is flawless, but overall it’s a great series that promotes values consistent with the Christian worldview. And this is no surprise, given that the author is a practicing Catholic.

    Mr. Wax apparently thinks that a teenaged girl thrust into this dire situation should or would immediately make all the right ethical choices. First of all, there’s such a thing as character development, which is duly trotted out over the course of three novels. Yes, Katniss saves her sister from the Hunger Games, but that can be understood not as a philanthropic form of self-sacrifice, but simply as what one family member might be reasonably expected to do for another. It _doesn’t_ follow that, even in the real world, that same individual would then turn around and nobly sacrifice herself for just any other human being. At the very least not before some measure of personal growth. So the “switch” that grates on Mr. Wax is actually more realistic than he thinks.

    Secondly, over time the characters discuss ethics and justice, and there’s consideration given by the author to the issues and the choices we could potentially make about them – even if ultimately we don’t agree with this or that character’s choices in the story.

    Thirdly, in a society like that depicted in THG, had Katniss immediately made the choices Mr. Wax wants to see her make – she’d have been immediately executed and there’d be no extended series in which to develop the characters and the situations. And as I’ve already intimated, it might actually have been _less_ realistic if Katniss had instantaneously opted to stand up to the Beast and let herself be killed.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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