I admit it, I am late to the Hunger Games party. I never had much of an aversion to the books. I would just go into the book store, see them sitting in the young adult section, and proceed onto the Sci Fi/Fantasy section. I really wanted nothing to do with the YA scene, thank you very much. The last YA book I read was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and that was only because I had grown up with the series.
I remember there being some generalized hubub when the third book in the series came out, but for the most part I completely forgot about it. That was, until I saw the movie trailer for the first time. What?, I thought. This awesome looking movie is based off of those kids books?. I continued to ignore the movie and the books - what can I say, I tend to be stubborn. I finally decided last week that I was going to see the movie. But, as a general rule, I can't bring myself to see a movie based on a book without reading the book first. Ugh, now I have to read it. Heather got me the book on Wednesday, I finished it by Friday, and I went to see the movie the day after.
Needless to say, I was impressed.
As I'm sure everyone knows by now, The Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian future-version of America. Each of twelve districts are required to send two children to the Capitol as tributes where they will fight to the death. This event is meant as a way for the Capitol to assert dominance over the districts. I was pleasantly surprised with how Suzanne Collins integrated these political issues in the novel. Although perhaps not the most believable, they actually give a reason for the Games to exist. You can feel the tension in the characters' poor quality of life out in the districts as compared to the lives of excess in the Capitol. You can hear it in the way certain characters act and talk to each other. It's palpable as the tributes fight to the death as penance for a crime that was committed before they were born.
What really surprised me, however, was how brutal the book was. Though The Hunger Games is a YA book, Collins does not take it easy on the violence. Although some parents will definitely view this as a bad thing (and rightly so in many cases), the violence is required for this book to have any substance at all. Collins uses teenagers being forced to kill each other to try to shock you with the injustice of the Capitol, and she definitely succeeds.
Read the book. See the movie. You won't regret it.