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April 14, 2012

Weekend Reviews: May the odds be ever in your favor

Daily Star

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The newest tween sensation sweeping the nation is none other than "The Hunger Games" trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins.

Many believe this series to be the next "Twilight" or "Harry Potter," but I think "The Hunger Games" is interesting in its own right.

"The Hunger Games" is set a hundred years from now in a dystopian society called Panem, which has replaced the United States of America in North America.

The ruling class of Panem, the Capitol, began implementing the Games when the 12 Districts (sort of like U.S. states) attempted to rebel against it 75 years before the book is set.

One male and one female "tribute" from each district are randomly chosen every year to participate in televised gladiator games to the death. Before the 24 kids, ages ranging from 12 to 18 years, are sent into the arena, they are trained in skills such as archery, sword-fighting, and knife-throwing, as well as survival skills.

Hence the beginning of our story. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old citizen of District 12, the poorest in Panem, volunteers as District 12's female tribute after her younger sister, Primrose, is selected.

When I read the trilogy over holiday break, it only took me a few days.

The plot instantly draws you in, and as a reader you find yourself concerned for Katniss' life, and whether she'll survive the tracker jackers (highly poisonous insects in the arena) or Kato (a boy in the arena who has been trained to participate in the Games since birth).

Because of that reason, I find it much harder to find the similarities between "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games."

Sure Bella, Twilight's protagonist, is constantly watching as her boyfriend Edward fights for her life. But she and Katniss are not birds of a feather by any means.

I find Katniss and Harry Potter to be more similar. Although Harry is a wizard and battles the Dark Lord to restore order in not only the wizarding world, but the earth in general, both characters beat the odds to prove themselves.

I think that's much more impressive than getting your blood-sucking boyfriend to marry you and turn you into a sparkly vampire. Just my opinion.

Needless to say, once I finished the last book, "Mockingjay," I was craving the next thing. So when the movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, was released on March 23, I was ecstatic.

When I was finally able to find time to see a 2½-hour film, I looked forward to it all day long. I was eager to see how Lawrence would portray Katniss' feistiness and courage. I wanted to see with my own eyes the visual effects and stunts, and the appearances of the Capitol citizens, which the books describe colorfully and whimsically.

I was pleasantly surprised with the results, with the film surpassing my expectations. The film does a great job at fitting in everything necessary to maintain "The Hunger Games'" appeal.

Frankly I was expecting about half an hour of movie time before Katniss and Peeta, her fellow District 12-er, were thrown into the arena to fight for their lives. But almost half of the movie time was spent building up to the actual Games.

The anticipation was also something that I greatly admired. Although I'd read all of the books before I saw the film, I found myself squirming in my seat as the last minute is counted down before the 24 contestants are released to the Cornucopia in the arena.

The only thing I am not quite looking forward to is the whole Katniss-Peeta-Gale thing. I mean, really? If we want a love triangle we'll just stick with "Twilight."

Maggie McVey is a senior at Oneonta High School. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at