What the Heck Is "Hunger Games"?

March 23,2012
Erin Dower( )

Brace yourself for your local movie theater to be taken over by millions of shrieking fans -- not of wizards, werewolves, and vampires -- but of... warring teenagers? I thought you just had to go to your local junior high hallways to take that in.

Hmm... I haven't gotten caught up in The Hunger Games mania yet, but I am planning to read the book(s) to find out why in the world it's all the rage. My loose understanding of it, based on the movie trailers I've seen, makes it look like some mix of Gattaca and Gladiator -- a futuristic world of fights to the death. But kids (age 12-18) are the ones doing the fighting... for what, I'm not sure yet.

Given that the world has plenty of real-life violence, bullying, and other teen-on-teen violence -- last month's shooting of Trayvon Martin and Ohio school shooting come to mind -- I don't know that this is the pop-culture phenom we need right now. But (for lack of a better phrase) The Hunger Games is blowing up.

When I Googled "what the heck is hunger games" today, I learned from CNN.com that Suzanne Collins, the author of the Hunger trilogy, was actually inspired (/disturbed?) by real events and media trends when she came up with the idea for the books: "Apparently, Collins' twisted plot came to her one night while she was channel surfing between a competition reality show and a news program about the Iraq war. She blended the two shows and "The Hunger Games" was born."

Well, the $100-million budget movie (which was originally supposed to be low-budg.) stars some up-and-coming heartthrobs and has had months of PR, so teens just won't be able to resist the about-to-be blockbuster. Like moths to a flame... Me, too, I guess.

I'll keep you posted if/after I read the trilogy, but here's hoping that in the end, violence and our creepy reality TV/social media survival-of-the-fittest trends seem more revolting than ever before. I think/hope that'll be the moral of the story, and good-over-evil usually is, but I've been wrong before!

Have you read The Hunger Games books? Without giving away too much of the plot, can you give me a quick review?

Are your kids obsessed with it? Given what you know about the books/movie, how do you feel about that?