This week’s release of “The Hunger Games” is the most anticipated film of the spring and likely to be the biggest hit since the “Twilight” series. It is based on the first of a wildly successful trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. For those who have not read the books, here is a brief introduction:
When and where does it take place? It takes place in the future when North America has become a totalitarian country called Panem following an apocalyptic catastrophe. Panem has a capitol city and thirteen numbered districts, each with its own specialty (lumber, mining, agriculture, textile, grains, etc.).
Who are the lead characters? The book’s story is told by Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old who lives in the poor, coal-mining District 12 with her mother and younger sister, Prim. They are very poor and ever since her father died, Katniss has been responsible for taking care of the family. She is brave and loyal and a very skilled archer, hunter, and trapper, and uses those skills to find food for her family. She is played in the film by Jennifer Lawrence.
Peeta Mellark also lives in District 12 and is the son of a baker. He is kind-hearted and sympathetic and admires Katniss. He is played in the film by Josh Hutcherson.
Gale Hawthorne is two years older than Katniss and has been her friend and has taught her how to hunt and helped her feed her family. He is very responsible but angry at their circumstances and the unfairness of the government. He is played in the film by Liam Hemsworth.
What are the Hunger Games? The brutal leadership of Panem operates a system something between a gladiator fight and a reality television show each year called “The Hunger Games.” Teenage boy and girl “tributes” are selected by lottery from each of the districts. They are taken to the capitol where they are dressed up and prepared for a fight to the death that is nationally broadcast. Katniss and Peeta compete in the games, advised by a previous champion, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson).
What’s the deal with the bird pin? Mockingjays are a unique hybrid species of bird in Panem. Katniss wears a special mockingjay pin given to her by a friend from District 12 and the bird becomes a more important symbol later in the series and is the title of the final book in the series.