This Friday marks the highly anticipated release of “The Hunger Games” movie based on the book by Suzanne Collins.
The book, set in a future world called Panem, features young people, ages 12 to 18, forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses. Each year, one boy and one girl from each of Panem’s 12 districts are sent to participate in a televised competition known as the Hunger Games. Of the 24 participants, only the winner survives.
Despite the violence and dark theme, the book and the two sequels are very popular with young adults.
freshman Derrick Bailey believes the book appeals to a wide audience.
“It connected with the male audience for ... the action and the female audience probably not only for the action but because also ... some of the romance like where a lot of the females like ‘Twilight’,” he explained.
Emanii Stryker, a junior at Mill Creek, said the book brought a new spin to a story originally popularized in a Japanese novel. Though mainly geared towards a high school-aged audience, the book, according to Stryker, would be suitable for some younger readers.
“As young as, like 13, would be a good choice for them to start reading this book because it’s a great pathway to fiction novels,” she said. “The violence level is pretty high but the romance level on the other side would keep it in check to make sure that it doesn’t get too violent or too graphic.”
Mill Creek junior Phoebe Phung said the book is well written and easy to understand -- attributes likely to keep the interest of young readers. She also had another reason for liking the book.
“I liked the action,” she said. “I definitely liked the suspense.”
MCHS media specialist Julie Hatcher believes the appeal is due in part to the age of the main characters.
“[Kids] love to read about people their age,” she said.
Hatcher explained that adults, particularly those who enjoy reality television, also enjoy the book.
“I always say the book is like ‘Survivor’ but with death,” she said.
“It’s like reality TV on steroids,” added Mary K. Donovan, a media specialist at MCHS. “Everyone in the country is watching these teenagers fight to the death.”
Unlike reality television in which viewers have no real relationship with the characters or any vested interest in the outcome, the fictional viewers of “The Hunger Games” care far more deeply about the competition since the winner’s district will receive additional food allotments for the upcoming year.
According to Donovan, dystopian fiction, which includes books such as "The Hunger Games," is currently a popular genre. Donovan said the book is one of the first of this genre to appeal to mainstream readers with its easily relatable social and political themes.
Donovan believes “The Hunger Games” is a good book for young readers because it catches the reader’s attention from the beginning.
“You don’t have to get halfway through the book or 80 pages in before you are hooked on the characters or hooked on the plot,” she said.
Have you read “The Hunger Games”? Do you plan to see the movie? Tell us in the comments.