I was 46 when I read the trilogy. My niece was 12 at the time and also reading it. Of course, I understood some things that she didn’t understand, like when Katniss and Peeta make love for the first time. He asks her if her love for him is real or not real and she answers real. It’s not explicit what they have done so you can’t expect a 12 year old to understand that and it wouldn’t be a good idea to make it too explicit in a work for young adults. Fans of the trilogy come in all shapes and sizes, ages, ethnic groups, etc. but it really makes me what what each age group understands. Other than pointing out that Katniss and Peeta had done something that leads to reproduction, I also told her that by the time the trilogy ends, Katniss is at least in her late 30s and has two children. She still has PTSD. So does Peeta and she realizes that some day, soon, she will have to explain what she has been through to her children and how she copes with PTSD. Imagine my surprise when I read that Suzanne Collins’ father was a veteran of the Vietnam war with a career in the military. The draft was done away with after that war but I was too young when it ended to know what was going on….
Recently I proposed a panel for an academic conference that focused on the Latin American novel of the dictatorship. I received abstracts on works about post-memory of characters. In other words, the characters were sons and daughters of victims of the regime that were remembering through their parents. Is Suzanne Collins part of the post-memory of the Vietnam war? The Hunger Games is a very anti-war work from which I have learned a lot. I know this shows me to be very naive. I have always been anti-war (except after 9/11) but the Hunger Games made me realize that not everyone that goes to war loves war. In fact, a lot of them hate it and are trying to avoid a war or end one quickly. Katniss is a perfect example to this but I don’t think Gale is and that’s why she ends up with Peeta at the end.
Younger children don’t realize that Katniss is falling in love with Peeta in the cave. Young or older adults that have enough experience in such things recognize the emotional changes and nuisances that one goes through in that situation. But I’m running out of power, so I will come back to this subject.