Rabid. Famished. Feral.
Anticipation for the first film based on Suzanne Collins' incredible trilogy has reached critical mass. Libraries across the country are struggling to meet demand for the books (including the Horizon Library Media Center) while watercooler conversations are singularly focused on the series. No matter your age, chances are you've heard about the series and have considered reading it or lost a weekend while you did (that's what happened to me).
We haven't seen anything like this since the Harry Potter days.
What? What about the Twilight series? How could I skip mentioning it? Easy- for all its popularity (and controversy) Twilight never crossed gender lines. The frantic TwiHard fans often seen on the news consisted of teen/tween girls and their cougar moms. None of the rare Y chromosome folks ever wanted to be captured on film.
Like the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games series grabbed the interest of kids, teens and adults of both sexes. How does an author mange that? Good writing helps of course, which J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins demonstrated, but it's more than that. In both series the kids (teens really) are the heroes but they are surrounded by adults who are presented as flawed, fabulous and occasionally fatal. The honest depiction of adults on each side of the good/evil axis draws readers of all ages and genders in. The adults don't sugar coat and patronize the kids, nor do they rescue them. They aid, support or interfere depending on their desires, but the kids ultimately have to do the hard work to achieve their reward or survival.
Harry Potter and Katniss appeal equally to girls and boys which, in my opinion is the true feat the authors achieved. Readers want and need a character they can believe in and root for as a protagonist. As a writer myself, I've heard a lot about how I'm supposed to convey a universal truth about the human experience. What could be more universal than having a character who has less than those around him or her, who wants more than life has offered so far and is who is willing to risk anything for the greater good?
Our boy readers here at Horizon have loved The Hunger Games, perhaps a bit more than Harry Potter since hand-to-hand combat is generally more exciting to read than a wizards' duel. A few have expressed that it felt odd at first to be in a girls' head, but they got over it quickly.
The adult readers here on campus are all drawn to the fast pace of the books and the cruelty of the regime that runs the Hunger Games. For parents it's difficult to imagine a world where you're required to enter your children in a game til the death as tribute to the government.
What's most exciting to me about the success and excitement surrounding the books and upcoming film is that we're all talking- kids and adults. Kids to adults, adults to kids, everyone to anyone who will listen.
Communication is the key to sustaining relationships and succeeding in life. Great stories (even fictional ones) have the ability to connect us not only to our imagination, but to each other. If you haven't read The Hunger Games yet, I encourage you to. For those of you who have, I'll see you in line at the midnight premiere!