The Hunger Games disturbed me

The Hunger Games disturbed me.  I mean seriously, seriously disturbed me.   It’s funny, twenty years ago I would have thought nothing of this at all.  No biggie, just another story.

Having children really changes your outlook on things.

I’m disturbed.  Deeply disturbed.

I can’t look at a book (or a movie) like this the same as I did when I was single.  Isn’t it strange?  I’m the same person, right?

Nope, I’m not.  Motherhood definitely changes you.  The thought of sending children out into the woods and forcing them to kill each other makes me sick to my stomach.  Emotionally sick… You know what I mean?

I started the Hunger Games as a novel.  My son finished the book in two days.  (He finished all three books in five days total)  I unfortunately, don’t have that kind of time to read, so I was only about 40 pages in to the novel before my son had to see the movie.

So we sat and watched it.  That was three days ago, and I am just about over it.  Now, I cannot finish the book, because I don’t want that sick feeling to come back.  You know what I mean?

I might read just a little further just to “absorb” the writing style that I feel caught my son’s attention (although I don’t think I would want to write in this tense)

But I seriously don’t think I could go through the Hunger Games again.

Callous disregard for life… for children.

If the author meant to disturb people… good job.

Have you ever read anything that made you feel sick for days?

How did you feel after reading/watching the Hunger Games?


102 responses to “The Hunger Games disturbed me

  1. Maybe I’m a little late to watch the movie, although I never read the books, I decided to watch a movie and The Hunger Games crossed my eyes.
    I am actually deeply disturbed by this film, being a 16 year old boy.
    I’ve watched hundreds of horrors and it’s perfectly understandable it’s only a movie. However, I was deeply disturbing by children being hunted down and slaughtered. It’s certainly a very grim movie, to say the least.
    I wouldn’t let my children in the future watch this film, not over parenting or being firm, although this story line and the movie overall was disturbing.

    • That’s interesting to hear from someone in the target audience. So many seemed numb to the disturbing imagery. Thank you for sharing.

      • Very correct. A lot of people around my age group watched it and it never seemed to bother them, I thought it was also quite disturbing and saddening watching little girls be stabbed to death.
        Very interesting read on your article and I completely agree with you.

  2. I am happy with your comments, Jennifer. I have been so worried about what my kids watch especially so as we in Africa are the recipients of so much ‘junk’ coming from the west that is eroding our culture. That said, I have heard so much abut the hunger games and your insightful comments have clarified issues nicely for me. Thanks.

  3. I read all three books, and I went into them realizing that they were violent. (Think Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” but only kids get entered.) The heroine (actually, most of the characters) has to be young to appeal to teens. I was prepared. Honestly, the thing that bothered me the most was the love triangle. What is so special about this girl that two eligible guys are falling for her and are willing to wait and see who she chooses? She admits she not friendly. She doesn’t think she’s that attractive. She won the games, not because she was the best but because she had help, so she’s not the strongest or most capable. What’s her appeal? And what message does this send to our daughters? I don’t want my daughter thinking that boys should fight over her no matter what she’s like to them or anyone else. I don’t want her thinking she can string boys along indefinitely, either. I’m sick to death of the YA girls being put on pedestals, particularly when there’s nothing remarkable about them. I liked the trilogy well enough, but the love story concerns me.

  4. I’ve read all of this trilogy and seen this movie. I enjoyed the characters, plot, etc of the first book. I thought I hated present tense after reading these, but then I read some YA with present tense I loved.

    Lots of classic YA have themes that are disturbing. Look at Lord of the Flies. I did choke up on some scenes and I attribute this to motherhood. 🙂

  5. Just started reading this yesterday, in fact. 12% through. I watched the movie a few weeks ago with my daughter, 14, who loved it when she first saw it with friends in the cinema before we even heard what it was about. Maybe she kept that from us on purpose! Hmm…
    If I remember I’ll get back to you when I finish the book.

  6. I so agree with you – the scene with everyone being herded into the collecting area especially disturbed me. Concentration camps came to mind. I suppose it is true with anything in life our changing responsibilities alter our perspective. I read Cujo years before having kids & felt sorry for the dog but when I watched the movie after kids I sympathized with the mother. Its all relative.

  7. didn’t read them or watch the movie and I won’t now. I see so much pain and horror that I don’t consider it entertainment. never.

    • I would not call this terribly entertaining because I was bothered by the imagery, but it was exciting, despite some bad story-editing choices (like falling in live in a day. Whaaaaa?)

  8. I’m not a mother, but my mother and my boyfriend’s mother have both watched the movie and enjoyed it. My boyfriend’s mother also liked the books. Maybe it’s different if your children are adults. I don’t know. But I loved the books. I disagree with people who talk about “gratuitous violence” in this book – yes, there’s violence, but it’s for a reason, and I’m glad you pointed that out.

    I also think some people miss the point of the book. The book’s not advocating sending children to kill each other. In fact, that’s what they’re frighting against for books 2 and 3. I’m glad you let your son read the books even if you didn’t particularly like it. I completely agree with you – some kids are old and mature enough to understand what it’s really about, and some aren’t. I think it’s great that your son’s able to understand the purpose behind it. It helps give me hope for the young adults of the future. 🙂

    • I think a lot of negative energy in society comes from not completely understanding something, and jumping on a bandwagon without really researching. That being said, yes, this disturbed me, but the overall sociological (is that a word?) message I think was important, if you were one of the people who “got it”.

      If you went to see violence and kids killing eachother… you got it. But there was more to it than that.

  9. This story never caught my attention at all. My daughter and all her friends wanted to see it so they all saw the movie together. She said she liked it but wasn’t too impressed and hasn’t asked to read the books. I have basically let my kids read what they wanted to, as long as they were reading. So far, that hasn’t come back to bite me in the ass yet. 😉

  10. I don’t have children, but the thought of them killing each other, being killed, abused, or anything else terrible is a kick in my gut. When I heard what the books were about, I knew I couldn’t read them. I’ve never been a fan of disturbing, dark books. I read to escape the everyday world. Some might think that’s lame or a denial of reality—they’re entitled to their opinion.

    There were so few “dark” books aimed at young audiences in my day, so it must have been easier for my mother not to worry about what I was reading. Today? It must be a nearly full-time job in itself!

    • Yeah, I’m a little more cautious now.

      Honestly, When KFord mentioned how good these books were a little over a year aog, and told me what they were about, it sickened me at the time. However, The movie wasn’t as bad as what I pictured in my head when she explained it.

      If it was, I may have had to crawl in a hole for a week.

  11. I enjoyed Hunger Games and it’s not something I would have typically read. But it’s the uprising that hooked me. You should read more, Jennifer, before you decide you don’t want to finish it. The story is a great example of perseverance and resiliency.
    I don’t think you’re wrong for letting your kid read it. If I question a book my kids want to read, I make a point to read it too so we can talk about it openly if they have questions or don’t understand. This, unfortunately is how I got stuck reading all four of the Twilight books. 🙂 My twelve year old started reading them, after hearing stories about sexual tension, I had no choice.

  12. Wow Jennifer! Your post about becoming a mother really resonated with me! I used to LOVE scary movies. Since becoming a mom I just can’t watch them anymore. And anything having to do with children being abused or kidnapped – way too disturbing. It is so true how motherhood can change you!

  13. Hahaha–I’m watching it now! I’ve watched it too many times to count. I read all the books back in 2010 and LOVED them. Yes, it is disturbing. But there are so many good points the author made throughout it, and that’s why it is universally loved by all age groups.

    • I’m trying to look at the political message, and my kid DEFINITELY got the message I would have wanted him to get. When you cut to the chase, though… hormones are kicking in and there is a kick-butt babe in the book. I think that’s most of the attraction to the novel. 🙂

  14. Oh… Well, this was a very mild post apocalyptic, children involved, series for me. I knocked over each book in three nights of work. (Last three nights actually).

    The idea of my kids forced into these games is beyond realistic for me, so was the technology (although great technology).

    If you’re not halfway yet, there is slight more detail in the books that hasn’t presented itself in the movie.

  15. Hunger Games didn’t disturb me. Maybe because I don’t have children of my own or even in my family. Maybe because I’ve been desensitized by the kinds of shows I watch on Tv, where children are sometimes victims. But something that disturbed me deeply was the rape/assault scenes in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Still bothers me and I read those in the spring. And when I saw the movie I made sure to fast forward through those scenes.

    • Haven’t read/seen that one but that would disturb me too

    • Oh my. Since becoming a mom I have a very hard time staying awake through movies, and I had dozed off during “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” only to awaken to the awful rape scene. It certainly woke me up but man, I have not read the book and don’t want to, for I fear the scene in the book might be even more disturbing than the movie and yes, that movie was disturbing!

  16. I read the first book only because of the hoopla. I have an almost nine-year-old granddaughter who is an avid reader and was curious what was available to young people these days, not to say she’s old enough for something like this.
    I’m with you. Once you’ve had children etc., I found the concept grotesque.

  17. You think that’s bad? Take a look at Melvyn Burgess. His books are highly acclaimed and very much enjoyed by early teens and I think they are really shocking.
    Bloodtide is a case in point.
    Between a guy selling his sister off to cement an alliance, under-age sex, the new and insecure husband eventually slicing through her hamstrings in order to cripple her to prevent her leaving a tower, a highly dubious shape-shifting cat, shifting places with the ‘heroine’, then having sex with the brother as the shape-shifter – thus adding incest to the mix, I found the whole thing pretty foul.
    And I don’t even rate Philip Pullman – his heroine gets to indulge in opium in order to find the answer to the riddle in the Ruby and the Smoke. Scratching beneath the surface of a lot of teen books is a lot of rather nasty stuff.
    Believe me, The Hunger Games is not that awful by comparison.
    Books are not necessarily wholesome any more.

    • Holy cow! I’ll be sure to keep him away from those !

      • I would advise reading all the latest stuff before your son reads them. You will doubtless be reading faster and at least you can be prepared.
        Some of the stuff in modern children’s books is OK, but I think there is a need for some explanation, some sort of warning that this is not how life is, or not how it ought to be.
        Like with television and the internet, parents have to be very aware of what is going to fill their children’s minds. They’re going to get the stuff one way or another, but it needs to be tempered with some good old fashioned common sense.

    • What about four siblings locked away by their mother in an attic and abused by their awful grandmother. As the brother and sister come of age the brother grows attracted to the sister until he finally forces himself on her. Meanwhile, the mother tries to poison the children, and succeeds in killing one. Sound familiar? “Flowers in the Attic”, almost a rite of passage for teen girls of my generation and when I read it in 8th grade I was totally sucked into the plot. When I look back at it now, I think – HOW TWISTED!

  18. She Started It

    You are the only person beside me (who I know of) who feels this way about The Hunger Games. I was so disturbed I couldn’t read books 2 or 3! Glad I’m not the only one!

  19. Like you, I was disturbed. I really had to work to swallow that revulsion down while I watched the movie with my kids. Of course, both my sons devoured the books. I have yet to read them. Everyone tells me I should, but like you, I’m not really sure I want to return there.

  20. The Hunger Games is really disturbing. The film did the books justice and they are a good read.

  21. I couldn’t finish Lolita because Humbert Humbert was seriously disturbing me. And under no circumstances should you read Unwind by Neal Shusterman if the treatment of children in Hunger Games bothered you. (The book happens after a Pro-choice/ pro-life war, where peace was achieved by deciding that children 13 -18 could be ‘unwound’ — all of their parts used as transplants, so they were ‘alive’ in a sense. This choice is made by the parents, not the kids.)

  22. I haven’t read or watched The Hunger Games, and don’t particuarly plan to do either. Recently my daughter (13) asked me if I could recommend any good books for her to read, she added “When I say a good book, I mean something sad and depressing, you know, that kind of good” – actually I don’t know! To me sad and depressing doesn’t equal good, but I guess that’s what the young folk like these days!

  23. If you thought book 1 was bad then it’s best you stop there. Book 3 will make you wanna slit your wrists. I’ve seldom read a series that made me more depressed by the time I finished it. I would not want my daughter to read this series. This was the most disturbing thing I’ve read in recent memory. Other books have left me feeling sad or melancholy, but not like this. The golden compass trilogy also left me feeling depressed, but less so. There it was more to do with the fact that *spoiler* the boy and girl were going to never see eachother again*end spoiler* I remember reading a book by Barbara Hambley…dragonslayer I think…back in middle school and I finished it at breakfast and was depressed for the entire day. Margaret Weiss and Hickman also tend to have emotional gut wrenching plots that affect me for some reason that I’ve never been able to determine, though not always disagreeable.

  24. So that is what the movie is about. How vile. Thank you for the spoiler, I sincerely appreciate it. This says so much about our society, and how vicious a specie humankind is. Gross.

  25. From a mom of 4…I LOVED the Hunger Games trilogy. I found it absorbing and emotionally disturbing. I like books that toy with every emotion. I understand being disturbed by the movie. My husband was, too. The books, however, are so much better. The characters, settings, descriptions are so much stronger, more intense. The books are about the ultimate sacrifice and how we face that challenge when the time comes. I found it compelling, and could not stop thinking about it for days, even weeks. I read the books back to back, devouring every word, every scene. Collins is a genius. From a kid’s perspective, this book offers everything – ruthless villains, heroes, a love triangle, sacrifice, triumph. It is a life very real to kids. Kids feel drawn to this in many ways because it’s much like reality. Many of them feel victims of our society. They feel like they are nothing more than pawns in an adult world, made to compete at much earlier ages for adult favors and positions. Youth and innocence are gone. Economies, families, lives are crushed because of government. There are huge themes running throughout the trilogy that I think hit too close to home for adults and they don’t exactly know why. Many blame it on the the fact kids are used as toys for pleasure…forced to die for pleasure…and as control. That should be enough, but Collins delves deeper into the human psyche. She rips and pulls at our very core. She builds a world and characters that make us cringe, that make us NOT want to become Panem or everything that is inside of it. She also gives us three amazing heroes who are fed up and decide to fight back. The ending is not a typical happy ending. It’s a lesson showing how in life, we don’t always get what we want, but we get what we need. The reader is left feeling satisfied that the story was wrapped up and given a proper ending. It wasn’t the ending I wanted or that many others wanted, but it was logical and it made sense. I applaud Collins for pushing the envelope and bringing me to the edge. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something that disturbed and delighted me at the same time. She had me with her Gregor the Overlander series. She has me as a loyal fan after the Hunger Games, though I don’t know how she will top this series. What was the last book anyone read that left them feeling numb, that they got their money’s worth? I found it to be the ultimate teenage dystopian.

  26. I had no intention of reading the book, or seeing the film! As a mother, the whole concept of it freaked me out! 😦

    But hubby wanted to watch the film, so I did, a couple of weeks ago (I was reading a magazine initially and looked up occasionally).

    I wasn’t happy about watching it, and would NEVER have chose to myself. It was all a bit too much for me 😦


  27. I haven’t read the book’s though I did enjoy the film, but there was plenty to complain about.
    I was really annoyed with the shaky camera work. Nothing ruins movies more than not being able to focus on what is happening. Unfortunately the Hunger Games is also just a straight rip-off of the Japanese film Battle Royale. So it loses points for that too.

  28. I just finished reading the third book in the series. Although the writing isn’t perfect, the Hunger Games is important. 50 Shades is not in the same league — (although, to be truthful, I didn’t and won’t read it. 50 Shades is a fanzine, which is cheater’s fiction in my book). The Hunger Games is based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and I think Suzanne Collins does a good job of bringing its classic themes to life: people struggling with their animal natures (minotaur, half beast half human, the mutts in Hunger Games), using children as sacrifices to right old wrongs, the difficulties we all face learning to become adults (the labyrinth in the myth, the arena in Hunger Games) I agree, the film probably does stray into the territory of gratuitous violence, and I have a hard time with violent films too. Still, at a time when we kill people, including children, with drones piloted by soldiers in Syracuse, Hunger Games sometimes hit a little too close to the truth.

    • I agree with your assessment as a whole, however, I am bothered by your drone comment. In reality, innocent lives are being destroyed by governments and regimes. Children are dying, not only by those trying to protect, but their own people who have some twisted idea of what life should be like. They strap bombs to their children, women, inside cars and buildings. These are people killing their own people for a twisted cause. As in the Hunger Games, uprising occurs. Battles ensue to wipe out the threat. It is not the people of the Districts who are to blame for lives lost (though many are). It’s the regime who is at fault for creating the problem to begin with. Collins makes sure we put blame where blame is due,,,on the enemy, not on those who are trying to salvage what’s left and provide a new life.

      • Hi kford. I’m not defending extremists of any kind — not the out there types in this country, or the fanatics in other countries, who we fight, rightly so. Collins is going for a subtler distinction, which she develops as the series progresses. Does the loss of a few precious lives, for example, to save thousands, justify that loss? In the “arena” setting, a resounding NO, but what about children who happen to be in the way? Do they count less? In any war, don’t we make that calculation all the time? As the series progresses, the protagonist struggles more and more with the trail of death she leaves in her wake, and the good guys aren’t always good.

        Jennifer, I agree that the books are disturbing on many levels, and appreciate you raising the topic, since many of our children are reading them, and it’s good to know what the kids are reading, for a lot of reasons.

        • Yeah just from the comments here I am wondering if I should have let him read the next two books without finding out more.

          • Hard to put that jack back in the box though. My kids (20 and 22) managed to read what they wanted to, some of it really awful. My daughter, at about 12, picked up a couple of sex-heavy romance novels for twenty five cents at a garage sale. Later fessed up and said she was kind of sorry she read them. She’s now a computer science/romance language major and VERY conservative in the dating department. Hmmm. I think you’re right to do what you’re doing — trying to keep up, trying to talk about it with others and with your son. Man, I’ve taken up a lot of space in your comments section!!! Good topic.

            • Yeah, I remember reading the Exorcist when I was 10 and some Frank Yerby books when I was 11 or 12. Also read some Harold Robbins around that age, too. My mom didn’t really monitor what I read so long as I read. She was very open about books as I’ve been with my kids. I’ve noticed with my kids…if they didn’t like it, they didn’t read it. Hunger Games was meant for young adults. If your 10 year old is reading on a college level, he’s good to go. Does your voracious reader have any horrible comments about the books? Did he have nightmares? Odds are, he processed the info probably better than mom, right. 🙂 *wink* Kids love stuff like this. They crave it. And, Jenn, there are EXPLOSIONS in Mockingjay!! Lots of them.

            • Ha! No! I love it. I really didn’t expect his much dialog, but it’s great! Everyone is coming up with things that I hadn’t thought about.

      • Wow… Yeah. What she said … but I’m typing on a phone and can’t get that all out 🙂

  29. I knew what The Hunger Games was about, and couldn’t bring myself to read it. I have always disliked gratuitous violence, especially if it is suppsed to be for kids and is supposed to be funny. I remember watching Stephen Spielberg’s movie, “Gremlins,” way before I had kids. They were promoting it as a comedy with cute fuzzy little creatures, and parents were taking two year olds to see evil gremlins killing school teachers and little old ladies. Some parents didn’t seem to mind, but I was disgusted.

    • I don’t think hunger games was meant to be funny. It is definitely a “statement” as long as the kid is mature enough to “get it”.

      The main characters only defend themselves.

      I am the type of parent that talks to my kids. MMGR understands the political commentary of this novel. If a generation can take that from an experience like this, than I can look at it as a positive to make sure it never really happens.

      • I know that The Hunger Games is a grim and humorless story. I was using The Gremlins as an example of how our society is desensitizing kids to extreme violence at a younger and younger age, and many parents don’t seem to mind if they get to watch too–like the ones that take their two year olds to see Gremlins. THG has certainly caught on, so it must be addressing some need in the YA set.

        • I remember my neighbors letting their veryyoung kids see Gremlins. Luckily my oldest remembered that my husband nad I had talked about how violent that movie was one night in passing and he brought his two younger brothers home. I honestly think some parents don’t even think about what their children see. I don’t want to shelter my children, but senseless stuff with no real meaning?

          Ugh… it’s getting tougher and tougher to be a parent.

  30. I haven’t read it, and won’t. i haven’t read 50 shades, and won’t. Why waste my time when there are so many great book I haven’t read.