Hello friends. I appreciate the work you do on this site and elsewhere. I’ve been keeping my eye on the conversation, particularly Christian and scholarly conversation, surrounding Hunger Games, and while the majority of that conversation casts the series in generally positive light, occasionally, I come across a more negative view. The Gospel Coalition recently posted an article by novelist ND Wilson that makes the case that the HG narrative is “flawed at its core.” It’s a convincing case, I think, and I’d love to hear what you all think. Thanks so much.
Thank you for this link and for the appreciation. I confess to being surprised you found this a “convincing case” because I couldn’t find the substance in any of his arguments. I don’t know who N. D. Wilson is, but I think I can file this complaint about readers over-reading Hunger Games and enjoying-it-for-the-wrong-reasons with A. S. Byatt’s complaints about Harry Potter. There’s no ‘there’ here and we’re left pondering the author’s motivation in making this kind of attack on another, more successful writer.
Three quick notes for your reflection, if, after reading the criticism leveled at Collins’ work, you think it merits a response:
(1) His comments about Katniss reflect only the most superficial of understandings of the character. She plays the despicable kill-or-be-killed game and I think certainly would have played the rape game he suggests as a supposedly game-ending gedanken piece because of her family. That he proposes that Collins work is a failure because Katniss needs to be a revolutionary from the start of Book 1 makes me wonder if his reading capacity and understanding of character development are the reasons I have never heard of his books. [Readers of N. D. Wilson, please instruct me about how worthwhile his books are!]
(2) His thoughts on Peeta as a putz and dismissal of Peeta as Christ figure symbolism — despite his repeated sacrificial deaths and resurrections, association with life saving bread, and allegorical appearances in Katniss’ life immediately after her decision to die for others — leave me equally awe struck. Unless I’ve totally misread his analysis, Mr. Wilson the writer has openly revealed that he is a surface dweller incapable of an anagogical reading and one who believes that other readers aren’t capable of experiencing same. In brief, he’s a nominalist whose ignorance is compounded by arrogance, the unfortunately ubiquitous Siamese twins of those dismissing popular fiction.
(3) What is so pathetic about this last is his insistence that it’s not jealousy or bile at seeing Collins successful (“She’s a great writer!”) but his impatience with readers who can read and who appreciate Collins’ artistry and meaning. Forgive me for suspecting his complaint is founded much less in serious reading of Hunger Games than in this writer’s frustration in not being able to produce this kind of four dimensional work and generate this kind of engagement in and close reading from thoughtful readers.
The best response to literary novelist A. S. Byatt’s attack on Harry Potter was in Salon.com’s ‘A. S. Byatt and the Goblet of Bile.’ I propose for your reflection that this novelist is drinking from the same cup.
I suspect I am being as uncharitable in this reading to Mr. Wilson as Mr. Wilson is to Suzanne Collins. Looking at his educational background at Wikipedia (alas), I would have thought he would have been sensitive to and appreciative of the Pearl, the White Rose, and Hanging Man symbolism of the books beyond Peeta as Christ figure. ‘Trinitarian nominalist’ is a non-starter, I’d think, if not a contradiction. But apparently not? His work on the Shroud of Turin is certainly embarrassing, and, sadly, this is the sophistry for which Mr. Wilson is best known.
I welcome, even more than usual, your comments and your correction.