‘Hunger Games’ fans eager to see book brought to life

EVERETT — Maggie Rabon gushes over how much she loves “The Hunger Games.”

The Everett High School junior read the book for the first time in 2010. She then quickly devoured the other books in the trilogy. Maggie, 17, reread “The Hunger Games” earlier this month so she would be ready to see a midnight premiere of the movie, occurring tonight.

“I adored it,” she said. “I was incredibly infatuated with the Peeta and Katniss story. I absolutely loved how Peeta had this childhood crush on her.”

Kids and other fans in Snohomish County are gearing up to see the movie version of the first book in the wildly popular series by author Suzanne Collins. While some parents have concerns about the level of violence in the book and now in the movie, teens and others can’t wait to see the characters on the big screen.

“I bought my tickets three weeks ago,” said Hannah Willard, 15, a sophomore at Everett High.

Sno-Isle Library System has 93 circulating copies of “The Hunger Games” book and, this week, had a waiting list of 567 people wanting to read the first book in the series.

The book is set in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, an area in what was once North America. It includes an oppressive Capitol and 12 surrounding districts.

The story is told through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who volunteers in place of her younger sister, Prim, for an annual fight to the death called the Hunger Games that is broadcast live on television throughout the districts. Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son and childhood friend of Katniss, is also chosen.

“It’s really unique that it focuses on children that have been cut off from not just their parents but who are isolated as others watch on,” said Grant Beckett, 16, an Everett High junior. “How different the setting was really made me keep reading.”

Amber Ackerson, a 2010 graduate of Everett High, got clued into the book through a reading event at her high school. She fell in love with the series.

“I reread it this year,” said Ackerson, 20. “It’s a good story for people who are young and people who are old, everyone can find something that they can relate to in it.”

Seventh-graders who recently read “The Hunger Games” as a class at North Middle School in Everett found in the book adventure, romance and violence.

“It’s a thrilling and on the edge of your seat book,” said Ethan Grice, 12. “I like it because there’s action, fighting and a bunch a cliffhangers at the end of chapters to keep you reading on and on.”

Seventh-graders Zeiva Fernandez, 13, and Samantha Wilson, 12, loved the romantic parts of the series. But they also felt the violence was important to the book.

“You have to understand how really tragic it is with all the violence and how they just send off kids to kill each other,” Zeiva said.

Parents sometimes ask if their tween is old enough to read the book, said Dawn Rutherford, the teen librarian at Mountlake Terrace Library and teen services coordinator for Sno-Isle Library System. She recommends that parents read the book and then make that decision themselves.

“I personally find it a little on the violent side,” Rutherford said. “If it were my kid, I’d wait until they were a full-on teen. I encourage parents to read the books along with their kids. It’s a great way to bond.”

Fans of the book hope it measures up to their expectations. The movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.

“I know from seeing movies that are books that it’s not going to be the same,” Maggie said. “So I have to go into it with a positive mindset that they are going to do it justice.”

Peter Weir, 13, a seventh grader at North Middle, said he’s seen movies based on books that have disappointed him.

“A lot of the Harry Potter movies left out parts of the books. I just really hope they don’t ruin the movie by doing that,” he said.

Reading the book first and then seeing the story unfold on screen is recommended, added Zeiva.

“It makes me sad the number of people who will see the movie first,” she said. “They won’t get to experience all the different twists and imagine the characters how they want to imagine them.”

The book is definitely still growing in popularity, Rutherford said.

Rutherford added that part of the book’s popularity is that characters are relatable. The book’s heroine instills hope for a better future in young readers who are uncertain about the real world they stand to inherit, she said.

“I think adults have done some really crazy things for the world and kids will be left to deal with it,” Rutherford said. “They’re a little nervous. Here you have a character who stands up to the powers that be and brings hope.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

Hunger Games party

Mountlake Terrace Library is hosting a Hunger Games party for teens from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday. Participants can compete in trivia, challenges and other Hunger Games activities. The library is at 23300 58th Ave. W. For more information, call 425-776-8722.

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