Last week I read The Hunger Games. It seems like everyone I know is reading it. I haven’t read anything in the Fantasy/SciFi genre in years, so I ordered all three books in the trilogy on Amazon. Oh, by the way, if you are still reading these books, I guess I should give you a ‘spoiler alert,’ in case I mention something you’d rather not know.
Anyway, I opened the box late Tuesday morning and by late afternoon had devoured the first book. The violence was a bit disturbing, but it was all fantastical enough that I didn’t get caught up in that aspect of the story. It made me think about the times I was sick or in pain, and my parents told me they wished they could trade places with me. And I thought about those that I love and would volunteer my life to save. As the story was told from Katniss’ point of view, I figured she must survive to tell the other two stories. And I also knew that something big must happen after Katniss returns home, hence two more books.
The next day I crack open Catching Fire. The brief parts about uprising in other districts and the government cracking down on on the citizens gnaw at me, but the story moves back to a more fantasy realm and I finish off the book as quickly as I had the first.
On Thursday, I start reading Mockingjay. It begins with Katniss walking through her own district, which has now been firebombed by the government, or the Capital as it is called in the books. I struggle through the first chapter because all I can think about are places like Syria, where citizens are being mowed down by their government. About the Jewish school children killed in France, all the many places around the world where citizens are under siege. The young people who were stoned to death in Iraq for adopting Western clothing and hair styles. It is hard for me to read because it is just too real.
Then came Katniss and her family hiding deep underground from the bunker busting bombs. I realize I am too old to enjoy this book. My frame of reference is too big to view this as fantasy.
I thought about my Grandmother. She knew Civil War survivors, she lived through World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and the Gulf War. I thought about my Father, who fought in the Korean War. And I remember growing up singing Where Have All the Flowers Gone and not really thinking about or maybe even realizing what it meant. The cycle of dying in the Viet Nam War, the cycle of dying in every war before or since. I have seen enough wars in my time to know that the answer to Pete Seger’s refrain in the song, “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn” is likely never. And part of me so longs to be young and innocent enough to read this book and not think that.
So there it is, I am too old to enjoy reading this book. Have you read the trilogy? What did you think? I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t read it, you can buy it here: