In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so, that phrase should have some meaning to you. As should the phrase Girl on Fire. If for some reason you don’t recognize them, then shame on you! Hunger Games Fever has been sweeping the country, and the world, and is our next successful series of adaptations.
The Hunger Games; Books: 2008-2010, Movies: 2012,2013, expected 2014 and 2015
Set in a post-apocalyptic world after an unspecified global catastrophe, North America has reorganized into Panem with a capitol city and 13 districts. Seventy-four years prior to the start of the books, District 13 rebelled causing a war and was supposedly destroyed. As punishment The Capitol forces the Hunger Games on it’s people. Every year, each district sends one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 to compete in a battle to the death Gladiator style competition. For the winner it means glory and riches, for the losers it means death. Each year, your name goes in one additionally time, plus you have the option to take more rations in exchange for your name going in more times. It is into this world we are introduced and to Katniss Everdean, a sixteen-year-old girl from District 12, Panem’s poorest district, who illegally hunts to keep her mother and younger sister, Primrose, fed. When the time for the “Reaping” where this year’s contestants will be chosen, she assures Prim that it is her first year, and her name is in the pot once so she can’t possibly be chosen. But Prim is, and on impulse Katniss steps forward with her famous “I volunteer as tribute!” taking her sister’s place. Along with her, is Peeta Melark, the baker’s son who has had a rush on Katniss for many years (and once secretly gave her a loaf of bread her burned on purpose when she was starving). Neither expects to survive the Games, District 12 has only won once and it’s Victor is a screwed up drunk who drowns his sorrows almost constantly. But by teaming up, and defying The Capitol they just might have a chance. The story is continued in Catching Fire when former Victor’s are forced to compete in a Games designed to crush the growing rebellion started by Katniss and Peeta’s refusal to kill one another. Then in Mockinjay, where the war for Panem is on.
I read the first book for my YA books class right before the movie came out. I think I read it in two days flat. I just recently read the next ones in preparation for the next movie which comes out later this month. I loved the second as much as the first, but found the third harder to get through. I don’t’ know if it was the details fo the war, or if it was just not as break neck paced, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. As a whole though, the books are not to be missed. Collins was clearly inspired by ancient Rome as the games resemble the Gladiatorial games and several character names are Roman in origin (Octavia, Cesar, Plutarch, Cinna, Romulus, Claudius, etc). While they have received criticism for having children kill one another, and they have made the top of the Banned Books lists for the last few years citing violence, most of it is not as bad as the censors will have you believe. Katniss only kills in self defense, and most of the deaths are not seen since Katniss is not present. Others have cited them as being sexually explicit, but nothing but a little kissing happens. They are a great story that makes one want to cheer at times and can leave you a bit teary eyed at others. It’s a compelling story that I’d recommend to teens or adults.
Like the books, the movie was great! It was actually quite accurate, with only a condensed timeline for the events in the arena, which doesn’t change the integrity of the story and is needed to fit everything into two hours . The movie was well cast making stars out of Jennifer Lawrence, who went on to win an Academy Award for Silver Linnings Playbook, and Josh Hutcherson like Kristen Stewert, Robert Patinson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson before them. The movie was hugely successful earning more that five times it’s budget. The adaptation of Catching Fire is scheduled for the end of the month, and the trailers look just as good as the first. I know I can’t wait. Like the final Harry Potter and Twilight books before it, Mockingjay will be broken up into two parts scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015.
Remember everyone, fire is catching. And may the odds be ever in your favor.