Suzanne Collins has sold more than 23 million copies of her young adult trilogy The Hunger Games, while the film adaptation of her story of a dystopian future is smashing records at the box office.Now the American author can add a new accolade to her collection: the trilogy of books were some of the most complained-about titles in the US last year, with readers upset at the violence, offensive language and “anti-family” sentiments portrayed in the novels. These qualities place it alongside the “racism’ and “offensive language” of To Kill a Mockingbird and the “insensitivity” and “nudity” found in Brave New World.
The Hunger Games trilogy, which traces the adventures of Katniss Everdeen as she fights her fellow teenagers for survival in a huge arena, takes third place in the American Library Association’s list of the books readers tried hardest to ban last year.Reasons given for the complaints ranging from protests at Collins’ “anti-ethnic” viewpoint to her “insensitivity” and “occult/satanic” perspective.Collins has previously admitted that concerns about violence in the books – Katniss is attacked by killer wasps and kills a fellow contestant with an arrow, for example – are “not unreasonable”. “They are violent. It’s a war trilogy,” she has said. Issues over the ethnicity of characters in the books came to the fore following the release of the film last month, with viewers tweeting racist complaints about the casting of black actors in key roles, but, as a fansite points out, it is difficult to pin down how Collins could be seen as “anti-family”, given that Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the arena.
The Hunger Games author comes in behind Lauren Myracle’s young adult series TTYL, written in text speak, which were the most complained-about books in America in 2011. Acclaimed Korean comics artist Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Earth series, graphic novels about a girl becoming a woman, were in second place, entering the “most challenged” list for the first time with readers distressed by their sexually explicit material – a problem also associated with Dori Hillestad Butler’s picture book My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy.Sherman Alexie, making the lineup of titles readers tried hardest to ban yet again for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, took his fifth place in his stride, tweeting: “I contain multitudes of vulgarity”.
And Tango Makes Three, a children’s picture book about two male penguins raising a chick together which has been one of the most challenged books in America for years, fell out of the chart in 2011, said the ALA. “I’d like to think people are getting more tolerant of the theme of homosexuality,” director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom Barbara Jones told the Associated Press. “But maybe other books are just getting more attention. Young adult novels are the big thing right now and we’re getting a lot more feedback about them.”
But it wasn’t only modern young adult titles which were upsetting readers last year. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World drew complaints over its “insensitivity, nudity, racism, religious viewpoint, [and] sexually explicit” passages, while Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird contains “offensive language” and “racism”, according to some.
The American Library Association defines challenges as “a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness”. It received 326 reports of such attempts last year, down from 348 in 2010, and said that “book banning efforts were alive and well in 2011”.
Source: Guardian UK