It’s no secret. Hunger Games is doing decidedly well. The book is becoming a household item. The movie is raking in tons of cash. It’s selling real estate. The author’s work has made a dent on the American Library Associations’ list of most challenged books for the second year running. Hint: one of these things is not like the others.
According to AP, the more popular Hunger Games becomes, the more parents and educators seem to find it objectionable, with some questioning whether or not it belongs on library shelves at all. For the second year in a row, Suzanne Collins’ work finds itself among the most “challenged” books, rising from no.5 to no. 3, as reported yesterday by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Just what makes a book a “challenged” book? “A formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness,” according to the ALA.
The book made the top-ten last year in the ALA challenged books list due to the material being found “sexually explicit” and “unsuited to age group and violence”. Collins has agreed that her novels are harsh and gritty, and indeed not for everyone. She has said, “people were concerned about the level of violence in the books. That’s not unreasonable. They are violent. It’s a war trilogy.”
The new study also included Catching Fire and Mockingjay, rounding out the trilogy with harsher and more varied complaints, including “Anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.”
Barbara Jones, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, holds that anticipation and excitement for the film adaptation of Hunger Games inspired the closer criticism of the books. “For instance, there was complaining about the choice of actors for the film,” Jones says. “You had people saying someone was dark-skinned in the book, but not in the film, or dark-skinned in the film and not in the book. In general, a lot more people were aware of the books and that led to more kinds of complaints.”
Collins has declined comment, but this humble writer likes to think she is somewhat flattered to find her work so high on a list that has included literary giants such as Aldous Huxley’s for Brave New World, Harper Lee for To Kill a Mockingbird, and Mark Twain for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (just to name a few, widely known books).
Kind of makes Hunger Games a peer to them, doesn’t it? Maybe every writer should get a book on the ALA’s most challenged books list!