It’s finally here, folks. The movie version of The Hunger Games is finally happening. But let us not forget, it all started with a novel. A young adult novel, at that. Let me clarify before this goes on: this isn’t Twilight. This is a story about survival. Katniss Everdeen is a character for the ages. She’s a sixteen year old girl taking care of her family in District 12 of Panem, formerly North America. Her District is in charge of coal mining, and with her father gone and a mother and younger sister to take care of, Katniss supports her family with the help of Gale, her hunting partner in the woods. You know, just a couple of kids, illegally killing and trading animals. No big.
Every year the heads of Panem, located in the Capitol, hold a lovely little event called the Hunger Games. For a complete history, please see the Suzanne Collins masterpiece. For the short version, see here. The Hunger Games were created after District 13 (a District no longer recognized by the Capitol) rebelled and are used as a tool to prevent a similar “uprising.” One male and one female youth between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected at random from each district. In all, twenty-four participants, or tributes, are selected and sent to the Games. The Games are broadcast across all of Panem for each district to see and witness the death of their youths, for the Capitol’s entertainment.
Now that that is out of the way: Katniss’ twelve year old sister is called to go for District 12, but like a good older sibling, Katniss volunteers herself, which is practically unheard of in most districts, especially hers. Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son, is chosen for the male tribute. They head off to the Capitol, where they are gussied up and given tips by their drunken mentor, Haymitch. There you also meet who I believe to be one of the greatest characters of all time, Katniss’ stylist, Cinna. (And so help me, if Lenny Kravitz fucks this up…) Once the Games begin, it is an all-out bloodbath. I won’t waste your time going into detail; pick up the book. I mean, even Stephen King is obsessed with this series. This should move something in you.
What I would love to clarify is this whole “Team Gale”/”Team Peeta” bullshit which, while inevitable, is completely ridiculous. This a story about survival, not romance. I won’t lie and say that it isn’t a factor, but in the eyes of Katniss, love is a useless emotion and she has no desire to settle down and make more options for tributes. Why would she? Romance is just another mechanism for survival, at least for her. Katniss has had to survive and take care of her family, but it’s comforting that Collins still reminds us that she’s still only a 16-year-old girl. She only thinks in terms of survival and is defiant in that special way that teenagers know so well.
I look at the Hunger Games the same way I would Downton Abbey. They more than live up to the hype, no matter how much there is, believe me. I cannot reiterate enough that the Hunger Games isn’t a series for young adults as much as a series that’s just worth reading.