Yes, I know that its target audience is my teen daughter, but I can’t help it—I’ve always been drawn to strong female characters, no matter what genre. And oh lordy—Katniss Everdeen, our heroine in this futuristic tale, does not disappoint. She’s insecure, yet fierce, always ready to confront a challenge.
When her little sister is drawn at random to fight to the death in a nationally televised survival competition, Katniss steps in to take her place. There is no sulking, whining, or mushy teen romance here, like another book series to which The Hunger Games has been compared. Katniss Everdeen’s plight is all about honoring her family and community by outsmarting the competition in order to stay alive.
As intense, violent and heart wrenching as the plot is, it gripped me and never let go. I loved the series so much that I even bought the novels on audio books and had my husband and kids listen as we worked on home improvement projects last summer. They became just as hooked!
Like a lot of other fans, I was hesitant about the movie version. I had these characters lovingly fleshed out in my brain and worried that the movie adaptation would squelch that. Not any longer. I’m stoked for this film. Out of excitement and anticipation, I even painted my face in of honor Katniss, as well as my nails. What can I say? My inner teen emerged!
If you are curious about the books, I’ve compiled The Hunger Games: Top 21 Trivia Tips To Know Before the Movie. I’ll see in line on opening day, March 23!
- The Hunger Games (released by Scholastic in September, 2008) is the first novel in a young adult trilogy by author Suzanne Collins. The other two books are Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
- The first run of the book was 50,000 copies. The series now has more than 23.5 million books in print according to a recent article in The New York Times.
- Set in a post-Apocalyptic world in a country called Panem (once known as North America). Panem is divided into 12 districts (formerly 13) and are ruled by The Capitol, a ruthless, powerful, flamboyant and highly advanced government.
- Seventy five years ago, The Capitol launched The Hunger Games as a cruel punishment for Panem after the citizens rebelled. That period is referred to as The Dark Days.
- The Hunger Games is an annual event where 24 teenagers are selected to fight to the death. The last kid standing wins and goes on to be reveled as a hero and is rewarded with prizes for themselves, their family and their district.
- The story is told through the eyes of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen who volunteers as a “tribute” after her little sister’s name was chosen.
- A tribute is a teenager whose name has been drawn in the reaping (a drawing). There are 24 tributes each year, two from each district.
- Each district represent a different industry. Katniss is from District 12, their specialty is coal.
- The Hunger Games takes place in a large arena that includes a forest, a beach, a desert and other types of settings.
- The Hunger Games is televised nightly throughout Panem, and the citizens are excited to watch as if it were an entertainment show like American Idol or Survivor.
- Author Suzanne Collins says her inspiration for the story came from flipping through the TV one night. On one channel was the Iraq war coverage and on another was a competition reality show. She decided to merge the two.
- Despite having three gorgeous lead actors, The Hunger Games is not a fluffy love story. It focuses on poverty, survival, war, big brother, oppression, murder and tragedy. Yet, at the same time it is the story of a young girl’s love for her family, and how she will do anything in her power to return to them.
- Yes, there is a love triangle aspect to the three characters, but it is not the main focus of Katniss’ experience. Outsmarting the other tributes in order to survive is. According the the book, her choices in The Hunger Games “weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”
- Each tribute has a special secret skill that only The Capitol’s gamemakers know about.
- The gamemakers orchestrate each day’s arena activities to showcase these skills. From fireballs and floods to freaky bugs and poisonous berries, they get creative with the challenges.
- If the tributes are charismatic and impressive, secret sponsors from Panem are allowed to send them helpful gifts throughout the games. Sometimes these are life saving!
- The Hunger Games has received many critical awards, among them: Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year for 2008 and Library School Journals Best Books of the Year for 2008, as well as The New York Times Most Notable Books of 2008.
- The Hunger Games books have also had their share of controversy. Some accuse Collins of being “inspired” by the 1999 novel, Battle Royale which has similar themes. She denies that claim. The books also were on the American Library Association’s list of Most Banned Books of 2010 because of the heavy overtones.
- Scholastic has a web site where you learn more about the books and hear a message from Suzanne Collins: http://www.scholastic.com/thehungergames/.
- Lions Gate has a web site where you can learn more about the upcoming movie and even tour The Capitol and become a fictional citizen of Panem: http://www.thehungergamesmovie.com.
Oh what the heck, I couldn’t help myself, so here’s a bonus:
- When Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson were cast in the roles, many book fans were upset, they didn’t think they lived up to the characters in the books. However, once movie stills and trailers were released, they quickly changed their minds.