The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of most frequently challenged books of 2011 yesterday, and the increased popularity of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian saga — in large part fueled by buzz surrounding the blockbuster film — drove the books higher on the list. In 2010, only the first novel cracked the top ten at number five. In 2011, all three books occupy the number three position, and the complaints have grown more varied: “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.”
This comes as no real surprise to anyone, I should think; the violence in the books alone would be enough to earn it a place on the ALA’s list. It’s been a long time since I read the series myself, but I personally can’t remember off the top of my head what could be construed as occult or satanic themes — and I certainly have no idea why they would be singled out for being either:
anti-ethnic: notwithstanding the blatant Hollywood whitewashing of cast in the movie adaptation (which I don’t think should even be accounted for when someone challenges the book,) I seem to remember there being a fairly diverse range of ethnic characters in the original story, even down to Katniss herself, who from her description I personally always imagined somewhat mixed-race.
anti-family: I find this claim even more bizarre, considering the entire reason Katniss volunteers herself as tribute is to save her sister from being entered in the Games herself. Everything Katniss does is motivated by the desire to protect her family and friends.
The things some people choose to raise a stink about and challenge material over never ceases to amaze me. I would hope that no school or public library would remove The Hunger Games from their collection, as I think they’re wonderful books, and — much like Harry Potter or even *shudder* Twilight — have created a swathe of new, avid young readers. And how can that be anything but good?