Warnings From the Future Dead


Upon my second reading of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, I am convinced more than ever that every teen needs to read this brilliant series. Aside from the fact that it’s filled with symbolism that English teachers relish, there’s not a single bad word (God’s name isn’t even taken in vain once), and sex is not glorified or even shown, it is my belief that every teen needs to read this trilogy for the lessons these books teach.

And not just teens, but every person. I remember back when I worked in a bookstore,  it was common to see young readers and senior citizens alike sitting in the cafe lost in one of three of the Hunger Games books. Collins wrote a trilogy not much unlike The Lord of the Rings where every person, of any age, race, or culture, can relate to and find – and lose – themselves in. 

But I know there is a large group of people who refuse to get near them, or allow their kids to read them. I want to address that group today.

True, The Hunger Games centers around a televised gameshow that features children murdering each other in an arena. That’s simply the plot to get people interested in purchasing the book. And in a way, that kind of shows how messed up we are as a culture for gravitating toward such a horrific story idea. In a way, it shows that we’re not so different from the Capitol who devours this sort of twisted entertainment.

But Collins is slick. For within these books, she weaves a tapestry of the beauty and value of life, self-sacrifice, and true love. Sure, the images depicted in the books are gruesome, violent, and sometimes gory. I’m not against showing Saving Private Ryan to our twelve year old if he or she is able to comprehend the glorious story behind the violence. Same as with these books.

We can (and should) protect ourselves and our kids against gratuitous sex scenes because they will always have an option to avoid that sort of life. But they can’t avoid a violent world. They should know why people commit heinous crimes on the news, in their history books, and on the playground. We can’t protect them from those things. But we can get them to ask the question: “What side am I on? What will I fight for if the time comes?”

The Hunger Games is not just a gory, violent romp for entertainment’s sake. It’s a cautionary tale about history repeating itself in our not-so-distant future. It’s about how people suffer at the hands of tyrants and dictators. It’s about choosing what’s right. It’s about valuing others above yourself (try finding that in any other modern teen book). It’s about true love, courage, and survival.

It’s about time you get yourself a copy if you haven’t already. Seriously. Put aside any notion that it’s just about kids killing each other. One chapter in, and you’ll see that there is much more to it than that. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t refuse your children the opportunity to read them if they’re of age, and interested. I will never let my kids read Twilight under my roof, but Sarabeth and I will have The Hunger Games readily available at a moment’s notice when our kids are able to understand the significance of the warnings given.

And as a writer, my hat is off to Ms. Collins, for telling the most gripping, touching, and unpredictable tale of our time. Truly an author who’s name will go down in the history books, and much deserving, at that.

Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

19 thoughts on “Warnings From the Future Dead

  1. The Hunger Games trilogy is quite depressing though… seriously, I don’t think I can read it again or maybe it’s just my dislike of books about dystopia/post-apocalyptic worlds/uber-tragedies.


  2. I was adverse to reading them at first because of the kids killing each other. The only reason I did was I needed an audiobook for my commute and the first book was all my library had available at the time. By the time I finished the first hour I was hooked. Katniss does represent many of the good qualities that humanity seems to be lacking all too often.


  3. I am a huge fan of this series, too. But I have to disagree with you on the idea that we can an should protect ourselves and our children from gratuitous sex scenes but violence is unavoidable. Seriously?! This is a huge problem in our country. We have network television that air, at prime times, shows like CSI, Criminal Minds and Hannibal where humans are maimed, murdered and defiled in a myriad of ways and no one seems to mind. Yet, if a celebrity flashes a nipple at a sporting event the shock and appall is held in contempt for years. I challenge our violence obsessed culture to take a good long look in the mirror and decide whether they prefer to see their body nude or dismembered.


    1. I’m not talking about CSI shows or gross Hannibal movies. I should have been more clear. I’m only talking about those stories where violence exists because of the glory that is being fought for. We don’t own any movie or read any books that has violence for violence’ sake. No way. But we remember and honor those who died terrible deaths for a higher cause in order to save others. I’m 100% against gory horror movies or action movies that pride themselves on how bloody they can be. As for sexual content – I simply believe that there is no reason to show anything of that nature in any form of media as sexuality is to be shared exclusively between a married man and woman. My children don’t ever need to see what goes on behind someone’s bedroom door in any movie or show. I hope some of that helps clear things up. Thank you for voicing your opinion on the matter, and I’m glad you liked the books!


  4. I have shunned the books based on my interpretation of what the ads said to me. I am a true believer that the human race is doomed to repeat history if we forget where we have been… we have forgotten much. Your description gives me a new view of what the trilogy may offer. I’m chewing on it. 🙂


    1. If you’re fearful of history repeating itself, then you are in good company with the author, hence the books belong in your hands.


  5. They were very good, but I found them extremely depressing. Their society (which is only a slightly exaggerated version of our own) and the realistic treatment of PTSD really had me down by the end of the third book. The books were really well written, and Collins did a great job. But I doubt that it is something I will read a second time through. Unlike LOTR (where facing down evil left it’s mark but made the heroes stronger), the Hunger Games ends with the protagonists irreparably damaged and barely functional. More realistic, yes, but way to dark for my tastes.


    1. Because of they way it glamorizes sex and love over everything else. Every decision is based off of these boys in her life, and I don’t think that’s healthy for teenage girls to read.


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