At a recent editorial meeting for Champion!, it was suggested that we do a piece on The Hunger Games. Perhaps a timeline, perhaps a quick study guide; really just a little something to show that, if we’re not so much ahead of the curve, we’re at least on the curve and keeping up with trends in popular culture.
Because Hunger Games, by all indications, was going to explode at the box office, and the books have been phenomenally popular across all demographics.
It’s this last point—the books are phenomenally popular across all demographics—that made me speak up and beg for space in the magazine wherein I could wax poetic (i.e., whine and complain) about how I am a true geek, I am the main demographic for dystopian tales about children killing children in government-mandated programs, and the very notion that my mom, the waitress at the café I frequent, hell, even my high school prom date, have read and are obsessed with Hunger Games is exactly an indication as to why all true geeks should be nervous by this phenomenon. I hadn’t read Hunger Games, but I knew that the very fact that everyone else had meant that I didn’t need to.
Since writing that column, I’ve since read the Hunger Games novels.
I could not have been more wrong.
Hunger Games is F***ING. AWESOME. Its chain would hang low and wobble to the flo’ if it weren’t SO FAR OFF THE CHAIN TO BEGIN WITH. The fact that the books are considered “young adult” only makes them more appealing to an older audience. The violence and dystopian themes that we geeks love are in full supply, but written from the perspective of a teenage girl with a breezy cadence that can translate to all reading levels. I just finished the second novel (Catching Fire), and am sincerely considering being late to work so that I can go buy the third. An iPad, which I’ve finally purchased so that I can read the magazine I work for, is due in the mail tomorrow—but I don’t think I can wait that long.
I remember reading a lot about Hunger Games when the movie began to come together: Casting announcements (E-Banks! J-Law!), press images, the works. I remember seeing the trailer and being surprised by the excitement it provoked in me, only to have that excitement boil over into bitter resentment as everyone else in the world got excited, too. Oh, really? You can’t wait for Hunger Games? Why not read The Long Walk, you uneducated n00b? Why not watch a double feature of Death Race and Doomsday, you ignorant dumb butthead?! These are the thoughts that went through my mind. I was angry. Hunger Games had, in my mind, been done a thousand times before, both fantastically and not-so-fantastically, and it made me upset that only now people were taking notice of the types of stories I’ve loved my whole life.
But. You guys. Hunger Games is so so so so so so so so good.
I cannot recommend it enough. The books belong on your shelf right between Running Man and 1984. The movie has become such a box office blockbuster, I can only imagine that at some point down the line, it will deserve a midnight slot at your local multiplex right between Escape from New York and V for Vendetta. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I was wrong, and Hunger Games deserves your undivided attention. So please, for the love of God, go check it out. • DEREK SIMON