Thursday, November 10, 2011
It's for the Kids
Ok, even if I wasn't Peeta-crazy, say what now?!
I am very much aware of the similarities between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, although I haven't ever read the former. But I really think this is just one of those ideas that gets used a lot, so there's no way to really say the idea was "stolen."
However my main beef with these types of comments is the dismissal of it being "for kids" in such a condescending way. I'm 19, so maybe I get riled up at this comment because I'm in limbo between childhood and adulthood and get in the defense about that part of me still in kid mode. But I'd hope anyone would look at these comments in a similar way that I do. And that's "well, why shouldn't there be a version of this for kids?"
There are concepts, themes, and ideas in The Hunger Games that kids should learn and be exposed to. I admire Suzanne Collins' skill, because while she does portray the horror of the situation, she doesn't do it in a way to alienate a majority of the YA audience with vast depictions of violence (depending on the kid, I'd think anywhere from ages 12-14 they could read this book). If she had created another Battle Royale, then I don't think the book would have reached as many kids (or adults), even with the same themes and storyline.
I feel the same way with Speak. It took me a long time to read Speak because before I thought, "Ew, rape. It's going to be so graphic!" But I finally decided to read it, and Laurie Halse Anderson is able to talk about rape in a way that doesn't mask the troubles and terrors that come with rape, but she also doesn't make it into a big scene that scarred me with too many details.
I know some people have a much more relaxed view of what kids should be exposed to. And I know some people are stiff-necked about it. I fall in the middle. Laurie Halse Anderson explained in a note at the end of my copy of Speak that, "America's teens are desperate for responsible, trustworthy adults to create situations in which they can discuss the issues that are of high concern for them." I don't believe in making an overly-graphic novel for a YA audience (and I don't consider The Hunger Games to be overly-graphic, so I wouldn't exactly say I'm a prude about it), but I don't believe in covering up subjects, either. It all comes down to the "responsible, trustworthy" part. Kids are expecting truth, but they're expecting it in a form they can become comfortable with the issues. And that's where books like The Hunger Games and Speak come in. Two different genres, two different subjects, but both targeting to YA and their needs.
So, to those negative commentors, yes, The Hunger Games can be seen as a Battle Royale for kids, but I don't think that makes it worse. I think it makes it even better.