The Commerce Journal

March 23, 2012

Love ‘the Hunger Games?’ Glad you’re picking up a book

By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

Commerce — Have you ever heard of “The Hunger Games?” If you haven’t, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, or at least haven’t spent much time plopped in front of the television. Here’s a brief overview:

The Hunger Games is a trilogy by Suzanne Collins that consists of the Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

I have read none of these books, partially because they’re young adult fiction and partially because I simply don’t have the time, but most of my friends have, so I’ve gotten a piecemeal explanation of their contents.

All three books were bestsellers, and their enormous popularity among both teenagers and adults has sparked a film adaptation directed by Gary Ross, who also directed “Seabiscuit.” The first movie will release this Friday.

Now, major film franchises based on enormously popular young adult fiction are nothing new to the 21st century (i.e., Twilight and Harry Potter), and they are often criticized by the segment of the population that wants nothing to do with them.

Like I said before, I haven’t read any of these books. I doubt I’ll see the movie, since I don’t really see that many movies in the theater, but I will say this: I’m glad it’s coming out.

This may come as surprise to those of you who have read my previous column “Exploring the science of good taste,” in which I basically said that critics opinions on the value of art are the most important ones.

But I’m glad the Hunger Games trilogy was so popular that its spawned a movie franchise for an entirely different reason.

 I have no idea whether they’re well-written (I kind of doubt it), but I am glad they’re getting people to read.

While people may criticise the Harry Potter or Twilight franchise for a variety of reasons, these books helped get millions of young readers, many who detest the books they’re forced to read in school, to actually get excited about books.

Now maybe these readers will simply go from one young adult fiction novel to another, but the fact that they’re reading is fantastic.

There’s a wealth of great literature out there, but much of it is daunting to many youth who are more used to being entertained and educated through more interactive mediums like television or the internet.

Perhaps many of the Hunger Games readers will never graduate to more advanced and meaningful literature. But it certainly can’t hurt.

Seeing today’s youth take a break from our laptops, iPhones and television screens to crack open a book is a great thing.

I’d love to see it more often.