The South Asian Times

17 January 2019 16:31 PM

Book review: "The Hunger Games" set for theatrical release

By Vikas Girdhar/SATimes

The cinematic version of "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is slated for release on March 23, 2012. Translation of this novel to a film version was always more so a matter of 'when' than 'if' since its publishing.

The novel for young-adults has garnered profound reviews from critics and authors and has also had international success, having been translated into 26 different languages and sold in 38 different countries. It has been a "New York Times Bestseller" and "USA Today Bestseller".

The novel, which has also been released as an e-book and an audiobook, was released in hardcover on September 14, 2008. It is the first book of "The Hunger Games" trilogy; "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay" are second and third, respectively, in the series.

The film version, which went into production in late spring of 2011, is written and produced by Collins herself and is directed by Gary Ross. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. It is distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment and rated PG-13.

"The Hunger Games" is written in first-person point-of-view and is set in a post-apocalyptic world. The fictional country of Panem stands where the countries of North America once existed. Panem consists of one major metropolis named Capitol and 12 surrounding poor cities. The general practice followed in Panem is what is known as the televised Hunger Games, wherein one boy and one girl held as tributes are selected at random to annually fight to the death in an outdoor arena controlled by Capitol.

The protagonist is Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the Hunger Games in place of her sister, Primrose. Her opponent is an acquaintance in Peeta Mellark, a boy who once gave Katniss some bread for her starving family. The novel follows their past, which literally finds them face-to-face at the Games.

To avoid spoiling the book and film, discussion of plot will be discontinued; but prevalent themes and origins of their ideas are significant in understanding the context Collins used to compose such a successful work. Collins says that her inspiration for the book arose from channel surfing on television and coming across content from two separate channels. On one, was a reality show. On the other, was coverage of the war in Iraq. The two scenes converged in her mind and she says they "began to blur in this very unsettling way." As a result, she had to summon the courage to write about dark and disconcerting scenes involving children from deep within.

Collins believes the most prominent themes of the book are "issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression and the effects of war among others." VOYA-Voice of Youth Advocates-lists the themes of "The Hunger Games" as "government control, 'big brother' and personal independence." Since the games are made required for public viewing by the Capitol, the theme of governmental interference also proves significant.

Originally, "The Hunger Games" was slated to print 50,000 copies, then was eventually bumped up to 200,000 upon release. The LA Times reported in late February that the film version had already broken Fandango's record for online ticket sales-advanced, of course, since it has not even been released yet. The previous record had been set in 2010 for "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse".

The book has earned a number of accolades to speak on behalf of its success and popularity. In 2008, it was named one of "Publishers Weekly"'s 'Best Books of the Year' and was a 2009 winner of the Golden Duck Award in the Young Adult Fiction category. In was also labeled 'Notable Children's Book of 2008' by "The New York Times".

With this novel, Collins is the first children's or young adult's author to sell over one million Kindle ebooks. This distinction has made her just the sixth author to make Kindle's "Million Dollar Club".

The movie, which will be released in theaters and IMAX as well, even has a website for fans who can't get enough; has been a popular getaway for crazed fans of the book and film.

"The Hunger Games" is destined to satisfy all international fans' appetites for a suspense-filled viewing experience, especially if the book and its success are any indication.

Update: 12 March, 2012