Just like Hogwarts and Forks, the nation of Panem has captivated a broad audience. Young adult literature has never before been so universally devoured and adored by tweens, teens and adults alike. But is The Hunger Games trilogy appropriate for all ages?
The premise of The Hunger Games is disturbing. These characters are living in a post-apocalyptic world where, once a year, two young people from each of the nation's 12 districts are forced to "play" in the Hunger Games -- a televised fight to the death with only one victor.
"The books deal with some very heavy subject matter and involve a lot of violence. Kids of 10, 11 or 12 could all easily pick up this book -- though the exact age really depends on their individual maturity level," says Sara Gundell, writer of The Hunger Games Examiner. "That's something parents will have to determine for themselves. Think of it this way: If they've read all seven Harry Potter books, they could safely pick up The Hunger Games."
The heroine of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take her little sister's place in the games and finds herself in a life-or-death situation. She is forced to kill others to save her own life, which is the nature of the games. But there are moral choices to be made along the way and Katniss faces each using logic and, sometimes, heart.
Peeta, the male tribute from District 12, becomes Katniss' ally, but much more develops between the two, and a love story -- of sorts -- finds its way into this dark world and impossible situation, certainly making it a bit more relatable to every reader or audience member.
"I like the characterization of Peeta and Katniss -- they're smart, they're resourceful," says Caitlyn Bergeron, mom of two. "As much as I love Twilight, I would much rather my daughter emulate Katniss than Bella." Katniss is definitely no damsel in distress -- there is much to appreciate about this strong, clever young woman.
With the first trailer of The Hunger Games just released, fans are clamoring for a glimpse of notable cast members like Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, Peeta and Gale. They want to see the cornucopia, the arena, the funky hair of host Caesar Flickerman and the girl who was on fire.
Whether your child reads the book or not, there is the question of whether or not The Hunger Games film is appropriate. Bringing to life the violent deaths of children and teenagers at the hands of their peers is no small feat.
"Filmmakers have discussed their plans to delicately handle the subject matter in the books. They don't want to alienate their core, youthful audience," says Gundell. "Lionsgate is shooting for a PG or PG-13 rating, and I am positive they will make changes if need be to avoid an R rating. If your kids have read The Hunger Games, then I think they could safely see the movie."
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