It’s a fight to the death and only one will survive.
Twenty-four tributes – a boy and a girl from each of the Panem districts – battle in the Hunger Games arena before a television audience. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to compete instead of her 12-year-old sister, Primrose.
When Andreanna Crawford, 12, of Avon, heard that was what the first book in Newtown author Suzanne Collins' futuristic, apocalyptic trilogy was about, she wasn’t sure if it was her type of story.
But like many who started reading 2012 Nutmeg Book Award winner The Hunger Games, she found herself hungry for more.
“I’d probably be scared, most likely,” Crawford said, imagining herself in the place of a tribute. “I wouldn’t bring my hopes up that I was going to survive. I’d just try to hide. I’d just dig a hole and stay there.”
With the midnight movie release approaching, most of the books are checked out from area libraries. Ever since the got a dozen copies of The Hunger Games for a teen book club discussion in October 2010, readers from pre-teens to adults have constantly been borrowing the first book.
The movie is expected “break records that have been hit by Harry Potter,” Norman Lebron, assistant manager at in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square. Jeffrey Padua, general manager at , said that the movie may gross at least $122 million nationwide on opening night.
“We would have already been filled out for Harry Potter at this time,” said Padua, noting that the two midnight shows in West Simsbury haven’t sold out.
Avon resident Benjamin Schroder, 13, said he hopes the movie makes it more of a mystery who will win the Hunger Games.
The movie hype is largely because the books have a “strong literary base,” Lebron said. The midnight show there will probably sell out, he said.
“I think people who have a strong base in Harry Potter and Twilight, it kind of plunges into a fantasy world, but I think the things that happens in this are a little bit mature,” Lebron said.
Alexandra Lanzetto, 12, of Avon, said the trilogy appeals to a wider range of people than Harry Potter and Twilight.
“I have adults that just want to read them, just like we did with the Twilight Series,” said Canton reference librarian Beth VanNess, 52, who enjoyed the trilogy.
Jenna LaRiviere, West Hartford community relations representative, said, “I think it’s just within last year that it’s branched out from pre-teen.”
The games themselves are like a fusion of gladiator fights, the Tri-Wizard tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, reality television and beauty pageants.
Jessie Webb, 9, of Canton, whose mom read her excerpts of the book, said it was better than Harry Potter and more intense than Twilight. Sara Melendez, 11, of Canton, liked both series equally.
“I liked how it wasn’t from one genre,” Katie Napier, 11, of Canton, said, naming elements of horror, romance, action, fiction and reality. “It’s like the new Twilight and I think it’s going to be better than it.”
Muwen Huang, 12, said “the plot draws you into it” with several cliffhangers at the ends of chapters, according to Hunter Miller, 12, of Avon.
The Hunger Games movie release is timely, considering there are many movies out or in production about the end of the world being in 2012.
children’s librarian Amber Lansing said the story provokes questions about our future given problems like global warming and the tough economy.
“I think that what people get out of it is to not mess up the future, Jared Culbertson, 13, who liked it better than Harry Potter.
Canton librarian Betsy Ash, 56, who listened to the audio book, said, “I think with one of these future societies, it’s always individuals against the machine and I think the author did a good job at forming the characters.”
Lansing, 30, who is convinced that listening to The Hunger Games audio book helped her get through the flu, said that girls can relate to the strong female character, Katniss. For the Team Jacob and Team Edward fans of Twilight, there’s also a love triangle. The battle scenes and hunting appeal to the boys.
While the violence in the book is a concern for parents, Baker said that Collins presents death in a very honest way that doesn’t glorify it. Surprisingly, many of the kids reading it aren’t afraid, including Webb, whose mom warned her about the gory scenes. Lanzetto said that American society is desensitized to violence with the prevalence of it in shows like CSI.
“Although there’s blood, it’s okay,” Napier said.
Peeta, the male tribute from Katniss’ district – the twelfth, which is the lowest class in Panem– talks to her before entering the arena about the ethics of killing other human beings in The Hunger Games. He says he will when he has to.
“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,” Peeta says, and Katniss answers that none of them are.
Crawford said that she is okay with the protagonists killing if that’s what they need to do to stay alive.
Neither Lebron nor Padua know what to expect in the theaters on opening night in terms of moviegoers dressing up, but many readers are curious to see how the costuming and Hunger Games play out on the big screen.
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