All Things Hunger Games

I am among the millions of Hunger Games readers that will be attending the first installment of the three-part series in a movie theater this weekend.  I’m also a member of a multigenerational fandom that may have started with young adult readers but now encompasses grade school kids through grandpas.  I am a reader that liked the Twilight series but found the writing to be at times one-dimensional and the plot simplistic.  But…The Hunger Games is no Twilight and anyone who equates the two shows they haven’t read the books or might be a vampire them self (not of this world).

The Hunger Games as a franchise has the potential to make Edward and Jacob eat dust.  Suzanne Collins beautifully crafts characters with layer upon layer to peel away as we dig deeper into her futuristic dystopia.  Her plot weaves together stories of friendships, family, love and sacrifice with politics, betrayal, violence and pride. To read the Hunger Games is to lose yourself in a world too grotesque for reality (or is it?) that you never want to leave if it means giving up Katniss, Gale, or Peeta.

I wish I hadn’t waited so long to read them.  I confess as a teacher of high school girls, I thought they were just a passing phase that I could live without.  I knew in the first few chapters how wrong I had been.  When Katniss takes the place of her sister whose name is drawn by lot to represent District 12 in the annual games where only one victor will stand alive, tears rolled down my cheeks.  It was the rare reading experience where I was so pulled in by the combination of language, cadence, plot, and character that I lost myself and became the story.  I became Katniss.  I lived inside her mind and became a better person for it.  I moved directly into Catching Fire (my favorite of the three) by downloading it immediately to my Kindle and barely waited a day for Mocking Jay.

There’s a part of me that worries I won’t fall in love with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, or think that Josh Hutcherson or Liam Hemsworth are worthy of my affection. Yet I trust in the quality of the product.  As long as it stays true to the saga there’s little chance of disappointment.  I wonder if watching the horror of the games on the big screen will bring on the same reflections about the consequences of our desensitization as a culture to violence, or the possible ramifications of a “reality tv” world.  Mostly I just hope that I can be transported from a room with hundreds of other people into a life or death struggle in which true relationships are formed and felt.  I yearn to experience the feeling that I don’t ever want to leave the theater if it means giving up Katniss, Gale, or Peeta.  Arrrgh…I can’t wait!

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