On the Hunger Games trilogy
Capitol Viewers and the New Panem
By V. Arrow
The nebulous conclusion of the Hunger Games series is a fitting illustration of what makes the series as a whole so remarkable within the Young Adult genre: rather than leading its readers to a set, cut-and-dried moral, the series treats revolution and war with the same ambiguity that they have in life, with none of its characters fully culpable or fully innocent and no conclusions fully satisfying.
Other popular YA and Middle Grade series of great depth and nuance–Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events–tend to divide their characters’ worlds and the characters who populate them into good versus evil. And at the opening of the series, the Hunger Games’ characters, too, seem to be clearly divided between “good” and “bad” in the comfortable and expected dichotomy. The people of the Seam are good; the people of the Capitol are bad. But over the course of the series, as Katniss’ experience with the world grows far beyond the fences of District 12, her beliefs shift, her mind opens, and her–and our–understanding of Panem becomes richer.
The Hunger Games begins to chip away at its own veneer of a morally simplistic, easily delineated Panem right away: from Madge’s quiet rejection of her wealthy upbringing to Peeta’s abuse at the hands of his mother, the graduated loss of the privileged veneer of the merchants’ side of District 12 is our first inkling that perhaps there is more going on in Panem than just the Hunger Games. And the pages …