The first of Ms. Kjos’ series in review of the books and movie, Hunger Games
“Wow! I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked…. It’s entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. … The storyline is brutal. …it’s probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve read in a very long time!” Michael A. Behr
“It took me a while to get to this book because I never saw it out of my two daughters’ hands. They devoured it!” Jay R. Chase
“…reading it gave me a horribly familiar feeling. There is a certain strain of book that can hypnotize you into believing that you are in another time and place…” E. R. Bird
“They… walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart,
and went backward and not forward.”
– Jeremiah 7:24
The setting for this trendy teenage tale is an oppressive nation called Panem that occupies what once was America. From its well protected Capitol, it controls its 12 regional Districts using sophisticated surveillance and communication technology.
The main character, sixteen-year-old Katniss, lives with her mother and twelve-year-old sister, Prim, in District 12, the poorest in the land. Since her father died in a coal-mine disaster, Katniss has been the family’s sole provider. Day after day, she and her friend Gale hunt rabbits and gather herbs and berries on forbidden government land.
As George Orwell and our globalist leaders knew well, common enemies and celebrations inspire solidarity. The rulers of Panem seem to agree. Their catalyst for oneness is the annual “Hunger Games,” which bear an ominous resemblance to the deadly but popular battles in the ancient Roman Coliseum.
Each of the 12 Districts must offer a yearly contribution to the Capitol in the form of two chosen “Tributes”: a boy and a girl (ages twelve through eighteen). According to standard government rules, those twenty-four Tributes will kill each other until only one is left. And while the teenagers fight for their lives, the eyes of every household across the land are glued to the televised battlegrounds. That’s the law.
Somehow the Capitol is able to film every dramatic scene. The agonizing fear of the hunted, the cruel plots of the strong, the miserable hiding places, the horrible injuries, the freezing night-time temperature, the manufactured rain… everything is visible to the families across the land. Their tears or cheers would depend on the fate of their own two Tributes — and on the success of the pre-game promotion of popular contenders.
The Tributes are chosen through a lottery. In District 12, the lot falls on sweet little Prim, who screams out in terror. So big sister Katniss rushes forward to take her place.
Perhaps the author was inspired by the old Greek myth about Theseus, son of the sea god Poseidon. You may remember the story. A monstrous Minotaur inhabits a labyrinth under the magnificent palace of King Minos. Half man and half bull, it feeds only on human flesh. Periodically, seven maidens and seven young men were sacrificed to the menacing beast.
In this myth, the mighty Theseus arrives just in time for the human sacrifice. He offers to take the place of one of the young victims. Not wanting Theseus to die, the daughter of King Minos gives him a magic ball of thread that would guide him through the maze of the labyrinth. He finds the beast surrounded by skulls and bones and kills it.
Let’s compare that myth with the courage of the lowly but faithful David, the shepherd boy who became king. When the giant Goliath threatened the nation and challenged Saul’s soldiers to fight him, they trembled in their boots. Neither myth nor God’s Truth could arouse them to try. So the young boy volunteered — and won! Why?
Not because he was strong and clever, but because — in his weakness — he trusted His sovereign Lord. He knew that “with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27)
Commanded to Kill
The Tributes are brought to the Capitol for a week of training, grooming and publicity. After all, the success of the games demands heroes and heroines. Building the needed familiarity involves pre-battle promotion for each team. In glittering outfits and bathed in artificial flames, Katniss and her partner — presented as lovers — win praise from across the nation.
Their next stop (the final one for most) is this year’s chosen wilderness. Unlike the more compassionate Peeta, Katniss is focused on personal survival. She trusts no one! After all, no one is safe until all others are killed. That rule would change before the games are over, but not yet. Not until nearly all are dead.
After hiding in the forest, desperately searching for water, escaping deadly bugs, surviving horrible injuries, and killing human foes, Katniss is back at the starting point with two other survivors: Peeta and their shrewd arch-foe Cato. Injured and desperate, all three face a new, unexpected threat: twenty-one murderous wolf-like “mutant” beasts — part animal and part human. As Katniss observes,
“Cato lies on his side at the very top of the horn, twenty feet above the ground, gasping to catch his breath…. Now’s my chance to finish him off. I stop midway up the horn and load another arrow, but just as I’m about to let it fly, I hear Peeta cry out. …the mutts are right on his heels. ‘Climb!’ I yell….
“The mutts are beginning to assemble. As they join together, they raise up again to stand easily on their back legs giving them an eerily human quality. Each has a thick coat, some with fur that… vary from jet black to what I can only describe as blond. There’s something else about them, something that makes the hair rise up on the back of my neck…
“Then one of them…with silky waves of blond fur takes a running start and leaps onto the horn. Its back legs must be incredibly powerful because it lands a mere ten feet below us, its pink lips pulled back in a snarl. For a moment it hangs there, and in that moment I realize what else unsettled me about the mutts. The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog or wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen. They are unmistakably human. … The blonde hair, the green eyes, the number … it’s Glimmer [one of the dead Tributes]. I fire into its throat. Its body twitches and flops onto the ground… [His second death?]
“…I examine the pack, taking in the various sizes and colors. The small one with the red coat and amber eyes… Foxface! And there, the ashen hair and hazel eyes of the boy from District 9 who died as we struggled for the backpack! And worst of all, the smallest mutt, with dark glossy fur, huge brown eyes…. Teeth bared in hatred. Rue! [She was a sweet, twelve-year-old girl before she was killed]…
“Have they been programmed to hate our faces particularly because we have survived and they were so callously murdered? And the ones we actually killed… do they believe they’re avenging their own deaths?”
No answers were given. But the realms of myth, imagination and occultism have their own ways of making mysterious manifestations and mystical reincarnations seem plausible for the moment. (That moment is usually long enough to plant disturbing suggestions in the minds of the readers.)
Many of today’s most shocking images reflect the occult myths and practices behind shamanism, Hinduism, sorcery, witchcraft and Native American traditions. Others mystical changes are crafted through sophisticated technology. Made to stir excitement and feed emotions, they all clash with Christianity. Consider these warnings:
“There shall not be found among you anyone who… practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord…”
– Deuteronomy 18:10-12
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
– Ephesians 5:11
We shouldn’t be surprised by such stark contradictions to America’s founding beliefs and values. After all, The Hunger Games fits into a dark world that supposedly replaced our own increasingly corrupt land. With today’s delight in digital deceptions and mind-changing stimuli, our former free and moral nation may well fade away, swallowed up by a dictatorship that could encompass the world.
The Better Way
You read the comments near the top. Why were the readers so enthralled? What kinds of values did they find so captivating? Why do they “feel good” about a futuristic culture that turns mass murder into entertaining games? Let me guess:
- The captivating killing fields?
- The strong, self-confident heroine?
- The sensual, shimmering, fiery costumes in the opening ceremony?
- The mandatory romance that titillated Panem’s nation-wide audience?
- The reincarnated Tributes whose dead bodies revive and return as snarling wolf-like predators?
All these themes and fantasies fit our times. They stir curiosities that can’t easily be quenched. They spread corrupt values that guide future behavior and preferences. They dull our children’s desire for God’s truth and ways.
Through schools and entertainment, their minds have already been attuned to a culture of myth, violence, sensual thrills and feminist superiority. Biblical truth is incompatible with mind-changing messages that bombard them from the Internet, computer games, peers and books. Following the crowd becomes natural; following God is not.
Yet, for our children today, the only safe place is with God — hidden in Him, walking with Him, and wearing His armor. We need to pray for them — asking God to shelter them in His love and fill them with His Spirit, so that they too can know Him and love His Word.
“O our God… we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”
– 2 Chronicles 20:12
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
– Ephesians 6:10-13
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. ”
– Romans 8:37