I finally completed the trilogy Friday night. It took a while only because of the business of life, not because I wasn’t interested in the books. Overall, I was quite impressed with them. So, let me just say, right now, I really liked them. I was, however, getting a little “over” all the talk about kissing and who kissed who, but I had to remind myself these books were written for Scholastic and YA.
The second book was about after having won the Hunger Games, how Peeta and Katness continue to become pawns in the Capitol’s scheming shenanigans–and how Katniss must now deal with Gale (you know, what with all the Peeta and Gale kissy-poo thing from the first book’s Games), after returning home. How they’ve fueled a resistance in the Districts. The third book deals with the results from all that has come before, including the new mystery of District 13.
While I found all the books a great read, I favor the first book most. But, I have to admit, I did find one thing that kinda stood out across the second and third books, especially in light of a recent blog conversation I had with Bree Ervin’s Think Banned Thoughts post, concerning sex in fiction. And this issue of mine does not in any way detract from the enjoyment of the books themselves, but it certainly got my attention as I read them, probably only because I’m a writer and my view on the topic. I don’t do many book reviews, because of writing time limitations, but also because I don’t like to discuss the negatives of written books (see this interesting post by Joe Ponepinto), because as a writer I know how much effort goes into books. But, I’d already reviewed the first Hunger Games and the “Completeness Freak” in me needs to make good on my need for symmetry.
I am far from being any kind of a prude, but I found it interesting that there was all this sometimes “graphic” violence in the Hunger Games (which seemed quite different from the first book, where not much was mentioned), yet when it came to sex, there were only all this talk about kissing. Just kissing. The only sex involved having children.
Two kids (here, I’m talking about Gale and Katniss in their District before all the nastiness befalls them), alone by themselves, in the woods. Burgeoning hormones. And all they do is kiss?!
Now, if there had been no graphic mentions (versus detailed and focused descriptions) of flensing and dismemberment, I could have easily let this slide (it is Scholastic, right?), but, no…can’t. And, actually, when you think about what exactly Mockingjay describes in terms of violence and torture, it actually made me, well, flinch, considering the initial target audience of these books.
I don’t typically flinch.
The entire dichotomy perfectly lends itself to our Ervin post. If you haven’t read it, take a read. What is also kind of interesting is that in my first review I praised the lack of graphic violence. But, since these books are really about a revolt against a tyrannical society, you can’t really shy away from some details. But, if you can give those kinds of details, turnabout is fair play, and the same respect and attention should have been given to the more physical aspects of the young lovers’ lives. It all ignored the very real sexual aspects that would actually exist between teenagers “in love.” Maybe the girls could “push it off,” but young men? Negative. The flowing testosterone is just too strong. And throw in physical or emotional attraction, sorry, it just isn’t realistic. It was just too glaring for me, and all the talking around it was too transparent to me. Now, it may not have been our author’s desire to do it this way, it well might have been the publisher, but the dichotomy still bothers me.
It truly seems that as a society, we’re not a bit squeamish in depicting humans going at it in acts of violence (again, the initial target audience of these books were kids), yet are so danged squeamish in depicting the act of two humans going at it for the lust or love of it. And I’m not talking gratuitous, “porno” descriptions. I’m talking in a respectful manner that does sex justice and does not continue to give it a bad rap. Heck, the author didn’t even have to graphically depict any of this, but she certainly could have alluded to it. And no, all that “kissy talk” is not sexual allusion to me.
Short of one’s religious views, there’s nothing wrong with good, clean sex. And yes, I do believe there is such a thing. Good and clean. Between two individuals who actually care for each other, want—need—to explore each other. Emotionally, physically. It could have even lent more tension (ye olde “sexual tension”). All the kissy-poo just didn’t work for me, even though I know it wasn’t written for the likes of me. It was written for young adults. But given this (and do forgive me, Suzanne Collins, because I really did love your trilogy), these books essentially continue to enable the Human Condition into the point of view that it’s all right to depict violence…but not sex. Oh, but it’s okay to kiss. Lots. And lots. But, sex?
Sex is for birthin kids.