Today’s Shelf Awareness includes a post by Sheryl Cotleur from the fantastic bookstore Book Passage about the uneasiness she felt when reading the final installment in the incredibly popular Hunger Games series, Mockingjay. From the post:
I am an adult book buyer, but our children’s buyer convinced me to read the three Suzanne Collins books. I have just finished Hunger Games series, Mockingjay. I admit they are compelling and one reads steadily to learn what happens next. They are even inventive and the characters are fascinating people, yet the more I read, the more uneasy I became until I could barely get through to the end of the third book. Why, I wonder, is no one (that I am aware of) talking about how violent these books are? [Ed: emphasis mine. The post goes on to describe some of the violent scenes in Mockingjay, which I won’t quote out of spoiler concerns, but which you should click through to read if you’re curious.]
Well, let’s talk about it.
Some of my absolute favorite children’s books of all time are violent — beloved characters dying, murder committed, danger around every corner. And certainly going all the way back to Aesop’s Fables and the Brothers Grimm, instilling morality in children by way of scaring the bejeezus out of them is a very old tradition.
But is there a line? If so, where’s it at? How much is too much?
Speaking personally, ever since a high school classmate of mine was murdered I’ve tended to be more squeamish about violence in books and movies than the average American, but that’s not to say I don’t ever enjoy violent stories provided the violence is true to the story and not gratuitous. It’s all case-by-case for me.
What about you?