Understand that my 13 year old daughter is an avid reader! She first read The Hunger Games and begged me to read it. As I heard more about it and a movie to follow I engaged myself in the book over the course of 3 nights after the kids were in bed
I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed the book. Not "enjoyed" in the sense of a happy devotional kind of thing. I enjoyed the thought provoking nature of the book. This book gave a perspective of a post-Apocalyptic America renamed Panem. I won't give a summary of the story, but you can find one here. The book did a great job of showing the thoughts of the main character, Katniss Everdeen. You can feel her emotions, struggles, hear her opinions, and realize her true humanity in a system that seeks to dehumanize its people. This is a book that is most appropriate for teens and young adults (or older adults). :D It is a book that I feel shouldn't just be read to move on to the next. Instead it is a book that opens up incredible discussion opportunities and provides many lessons along the way. There is quite a bit of violence that was hard for a sensitive person like me, but I did see the point of it going along with the system of government and the past the culture has emerged from.
My daughter and I did hit the midnight showing for the movie. As usual the book was definitely better simply because of the depth of background information provided and the deeper level that you get to "know" the characters. There's more explanation of the relationships between several of the characters that are what made the book so difficult to put down. In the movie I did feel moved to tears on two occasions. The first was when she is saying farewell to Cinna in those final seconds before the games begin. You can see the fear taking hold over her. The book did a much better job showing a deeper connection between these two characters. Katniss is not good at making friends. The effects of her daily life in District 12 have an obvious effect on her emotions, the way she sees people, and the friendships she makes. Cinna takes her for who she is and sees beyond her tough exterior. They become friends and she confides in him. He also has great faith in her for the Games.
The second tear jerker was, of course, the loss of Rue. The book did a beautiful job with Rue. A sweet girl only 12 years old that Katniss tries to protect as she did her sister, Prim. No sooner had they bonded Rue faces her untimely death at the hands of another tribute. Here is where you see Katniss show her disdain for the Captol as she puts a human quality back into Rue despite her death. She carefully lays flowers around her body before she is taken away and you see the despair Katniss deals with. She is not playing the game, she has been dealt the game. She doesn't want to participate in this as the Careers do. She volunteered to save her sister's life.
Overall the movie was good. They stayed close to the story line of the book which was much appreciated. I have already begun the second book in the series. If you want another good review of the movie you can find it on the Focus on the Family site. It also provides discussion questions for you! There's also a site I found that has a discussion forum by parents if you want to see what others are saying about the book, too. You can find it here.
I am going to read the other 2 books to finish the series. Maybe I'll have more to add after that. According to my 13 year old things really do get intense in the 3rd book. As I mentioned concerns about the first book with younger readers, she expressed more concern for young people reading the last book. I guess I'll find out more about that in the coming weeks. Please feel free to add further comments below!