January 26, 2011

Let the Games Begin!

I just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, by author Suzanne Collins. Yeah, it was intended to be read by those closer in age to book's protagonist, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, but then again so too were the Harry Potter series and Twilight, and they entered the public zeitgeist as well.

They're rushing this one to the big screen, with a release date of 3/23/12 for the movie version of the first novel, which has yet to be cast... 

On the surface, the story is not all that original. It takes place in a dystopian future, and an annual Shirley Jackson flavored lottery selects two tributes -- young teenagers --  from each of the country's 12 districts to compete in a Survivor/American Gladiators/Thunderdome battle called the Hunger Games. All 24 boys and girls enter the arena, and fight to the death in a televised bonanza, but only the sole survivor lives. 

Bella Swan, the heroine in Twilight, is sullen and depressed with her life because she has divorced parents who both love her and has to decide between her hunky vampire beau and her equally hunky werewolf suitor. Yeah, Bella, life is hard -- *eye roll*

At least we can understand why Katniss hates her life. Her father is dead, killed in a mining accident. Her mother is distant on her best days, and an empty shell of herself most of the time. She lives in District 12, the poorest of all the districts, where food is scarce and hope even scarcer. 

Although I found the third book to be a bit lacking in both substance and surprise, and a bit more tonally like Starship Troopers than the V for Vendetta/1984 feel of the first two books, I nevertheless enjoyed the read and appreciated both the depth of the characters, as well as the obvious political overtones. 

I look forward to the film, which is reportedly to be directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville) -- a movie that turned what could have been a light-hearted comic romp through a 50's sitcom landscape into an unbelievable allegory about the civil rights movement of the 1960's. He's the perfect choice to craft a film that hopefully will make the PG-13 crowd think more about the Senate than Snooki. 

If that happens, maybe we all can win.

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