“The Hunger Games”: Why haven’t you read it yet?

Unless you just arrived back from your mission to Mars, you should have heard the title, “The Hunger Games“ somewhere.  Its been sitting on the New York Times best seller list for the last 3 years, with over 36 million books in print (about 6 million more than ‘TWILIGHT’ prior to its first movie). Speaking of ‘TWILIGHT,’ this ain’t it. No emo-vampires here. Perhaps the fact that the Hunger Games movie has already made one quarter of a billion dollars, can get you excited. Nope, still not a believer huh? You’re just not gonna make this easy so why don’t I fill you in with some of the WHAT followed by the WHY – you know, why any of this should be of any interest to you.

WHAT  is the Hunger Games about?

The Hunger Games is set in a future North America otherwise known as Panem. We learn that a War has taken place between the haves and the have nots (sound familiar?). Apparently the 1% have won, as they have sectioned off the other 99% into 12 districts (somewhere between North Carolina and West Virginia is my best guess) where they are fenced in and under guard. Each district is put to work harvesting their districts natural resources and producing goods for the use of the Capitol residents. The Capitol, somewhere in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, is where all the rich folks and their servants live. They enjoy modern conveniences, while the districts live under near third world conditions.

The district residents are given a reminder of their past rebellion by way of The Hunger Games. This annual event is televised throughout the districts and is considered mandatory viewing by the Capitol for all district residents. Each year every 12-18 year old district resident is required to enter a lottery which selects a boy and girl to represent each district in a fight to the death. The winning kid (or Tribute as they are referred to in the games) is provided food and shelter forever. But, they must either kill or survive all the other tributes in a battle to the death inside an arena filled with life hazards and lethal weaponry. Aside from the other competing Tributes as threats, the Capitol looks to make the games as entertaining as possible by way of provided weaponry, medicine, adjustable inclement weather conditions (hey, its the future) and lethal predatory animals unleashed to maximize the bloodshed, drama, and fear factor for the viewing audience.

The protagonist in the books is a 16 year old girl named Katniss, who manages to get herself drafted in the Games and unknowingly becomes the Rosa Parks to a revolutionary movement against the government. For those worried about a book and movie filled with teen mush have no fear. The girl in this film takes care of herself, and gets less interested when male characters start turning emotional- just like real life. You can still feel like an adult reading this series. So that leads us to the more pressing issue…

WHY should you read it?

For some a book about kids fighting to the death just doesn’t do it for them. Perhaps you aren’t much for rebellion but rather see law, order and respect for oppressive authority figures. Maybe you’re amongst the 1% who have little interest in common folks concerns. Well I make this easy for you with 6 quick reasons to reconsider:

6- The movie adaptation of ‘The Hunger Games’  just made $251 million dollars in its first ten days (3/23-4/1) of release, making it the fastest grossing non-sequel to achieve this feat (#3 overall behind ‘The Dark Knight’ and the final Harry Potter). You respect the hustle.

5- Amazon has declared Suzanne Collins, author of ‘The Hunger Games,’ KINDLE e-reader’s all time best-selling author. Surely you find success admirable.

4- The future has some diversity, at least according to Suzanne Collins. One of the more beloved characters in the story is a 12 year old girl named Rue, who forms an alliance with our main character Katniss to survive in the arena. There were a few idiots on twitter who complained about the movie casting the character of Rue as black (Amandla Stenberg), despite the book describing her as having “dark brown skin and (dark) eyes.” Nonetheless, she proves herself to be formidable in the games and holds a major role in the initial storyline. Add in Lenny Kravitz cast as Cinna and Dayo Okeniyi cast as Thresh and we have a story with a little color. Gotta  give the author credit for not being dumb enough to exclude the majority of the world’s population-a little anti-Hollywood for you rebels out there.

3- With an expected half a billion dollar worldwide gross for the current film, based upon book 1, and  2 more books yet to film, aren’t you just a little curious as to what is feeding the rabidness of the book’s fan base?

2- The revolution will be televised and those of us in the majority will close the wealth gap in this country. Well, at least in ‘The Hunger Games’ that all happens. So, make yourself feel better and go pick up the series. You can find all three books sold in a boxed set for under 20 bucks. You spent that between breakfast and lunch today.

And finally,

1- Girl power! Or, at least the illusion of it. Gloria Allred approves of this story.

-S.Mat

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