The Power of The Hunger Games

image credit: verabee / verabee.com

image credit: verabee / verabee.com

I just finished The Hunger Games series last night. I read the first of the series about two months ago and read both Catching Fire and Mockingjay over the last five days.

After finishing these books, this story, I feel a deep dark gloom within me. At first I thought, how horrible that YA fiction should be so grim, so depressing. Traumatic, even. It’s a string of terrible tragic moments that tell the story of its characters. Characters who you are rooting for, but even when they come out victorious, they are not winners. There’s no winning in this world. There’s always a din, always a shadow attached. It’s harrowing fiction.

But then I realized, this story is so overwhelmingly poignant. If it can move me so much that I could classify it as possibly tertiary trauma and it compelled me to actually break out my notebook and pen to write and to passionately emote for the first time in weeks—well that’s incredibly powerful.

And I hope that it moves others similarly, even though it’s painful. These books had me up until three in the morning, then invaded my sleep with dark images, so black that I awoke heavy with their gravity.

A mark of a great story is one that grabs you and tears you up inside. Gets in your head and rearranges your thoughts. Makes you uncomfortable to talk about them, but even more uncomfortable not to. A story that demands to be shared with others, contemplated, even hated. One that makes you curl up into a ball and throw the damned thing across the room. One that perhaps has you wishing for more, but more often, one that you’ll never read again because it’s already deep within your cells, your soul. It will always be with you, proudly displaying its marks and invisible scars. One that leaves you drained, but slowly fills you back up—different, better, new. A great book should change you, not merely in your mind and heart, but at your core. You cannot conquer great stories because they will defeat you.

The Hunger Games series is one such story. One with such tragedies I would never wish it upon someone, yet I am compelled to share it. I cannot escape it now or ever, and I hope that everyone should feel such power in words and in stories whenever they read.