Now That You’re 12…The Hunger Games vs The Giver

Raine recently turned 12, and is, as she keeps telling me, an 'unofficial teenager' because she is already 'two-teen.' In return, I keep telling her that with greater age comes greater responsibility. Cue mom's maniacal laugh, and kilometer-long chore lists appearing out of thin air, gently floating down and settling on Raine's head, magically obliging her to do them all...

Ahem. Pardon the fantasy.

Twelve indeed is a milestone age. The cusp of adolescence. And if you were born in the dystopian worlds of The Hunger Games or The Giver, 12 is the age of reckoning.

Our well-worn copies of The Hunger Games and The Giver (the latter is hardbound, so it shows less wear and tear).

In The Hunger Games, 12 is the age where your name starts going into the lottery jar for each year's reaping. The names of one boy and one girl are picked and the chosen ones are made into tributes, made to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games.

Simon makes a wonderful book stand

The world of The Giver seems utopian in contrast. At age 12, the children are given their lifelong Assignment. Their career path, their responsibility to the community for the rest of their lives. While this seems gentle and peaceful, it comes at a (mostly unknown) price.

He probably thinks he lives in a dystopian world, with humans using him for non-cat purposes and all that

I asked Raine, who has read both series, which world she would rather have turned 12 in. She said, "I'd rather turn 12 in The Hunger Games because

  • I might actually stand a chance to win! Don't underestimate 12 year-olds. I can use a bow, hold my own against bigger opponents, and I could always run away very, very fast.
  • In The Giver, I would be expected to be perfect all the time. If you make a mistake (or don't fit in), you are so massively screwed because they'll kill you.
  • If you survive the Hunger Games, you and your family are rich. If you survive in The Giver, when you grow old, they will still kill you.
  • If I died in the Hunger Games, at least my last moments would be in color. There are no colors in The Giver. "

Of course, I would have wanted some deeper thoughts, like the differences of freedom curtailed in both worlds. Or the truth of the saying "what you don't know won't hurt you." Or the parallelism of those worlds with the real life dictatorship that happened here in the Philippines.

But I am glad that she has given it some thought. I want the girls to develop the habit of critical thinking, even when it comes to fun stuff like reading books like these. I don't want them to blindly accept information. And I want them to be able to come up with a rational conclusion themselves.

My new two-teen.

I think we're off to a decent start. Next smackdown--maybe Katniss vs Tris?


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