The Hunger GamesHarry Potter is in our rear view mirror, and Twilight isn’t far behind. But fear not, oh fantasy and young romance lovers. Suzanne Collins is here to entertain us with her bewitching trilogy of novels, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.

And yes, I’ve actually and uncharacteristically read — and loved — all three books before any movies will hit the big screen. The first heads to theater on March 23, 2012, and I’ve included here a few photos from the Vanity Fair photo shoot in Concord, North Carolina.

What I would have given to be lurking behind a tree when it all went down. I imagine there must be folks trying to get a glimpse of the filmmaking.

The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place in Panem, a North American country divided into 12 districts. Collins got the idea for the series from watching footage of the Iraq war and reality television — a dangerous combination, but certainly entertaining for the rest of us.

In the story, every child aged 12 to 18 is entered into an annual lottery known as “the reaping.” Each district selects a boy and a girl to compete with kids from the other districts in a televised fight to the death. The last one standing wins a life free of pain and suffering. Well, except for the physical and emotional scars of the Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence is the lovely middle of a Josh Hutcherson-Liam Hemsworth Sandwich | Sam Jones Photo

Writer-director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) is adapting the first book for the screen and said that his kids turned him onto the series. “I went nuts,” said Ross in the Vanity Fair story. “You rarely get a tentpole that has this much emotional depth, this much character to dive into.”

Jennifer Lawrence, who bowled me over with her role in Winter’s Bone — for which she earned an Oscar nomination last year — is playing the heroine Katniss Everdeen. When her younger sister Prim is chosen as a “tribute” for the reaping, Katniss volunteers to take her place.

Lawrence noted that Katniss is an incredible character. “She’s a hunter but not a killer, a 16-year-old who’s being forced into the arena. These kids are killing one another only because if they don’t, they’ll die. It’s heartbreaking.”

Josh Hutcherson, who played Laser in last year’s The Kids Are All Right, plays Peeta, the “baker boy” whose family runs a local bakery. He’s loved Katniss since childhood, but has never been able to express it.When He’s chosen as the male tribute, he and Katniss must fake a romance for the cameras — only he’s not faking it.

The Hunger Games
The Cast of The Hunger Games: From left, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jack Quaid, Jacqueline Emerson, Dayo Okeniyi, Leven Rambin, Alexander Ludwig, Amandla Stenberg, Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Liam Hemsworth | Sam Jones Photo

“My mind was blown by how much I felt I was like Peeta,” said Hutcherson. “We shot in the forest near Asheville, North Carolina — a lot of fight scenes, very physically demanding. Jennifer and I totally hit it off. We’re both crazy people. We don’t hold anything back.”

That only makes me want to see this movie even more. Well, that and the fact that it’s just a really great story with wonderful characters, including Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who plays Katniss’ childhood friend.

Check out my Hunger Games 101, and tell me what you think of the Vanity Fair photos. I think they’re gorgeous

The Hunger Games
It's a high class problem Katniss has choosing between these two | Sam Jones Photo


    • It’s definitely a great read. Last summer, I soared through all three books, which is a major miracle for me since I have no time to read ever. For those books, other stuff had to wait.

    • Yeah, I must admit, I’m a little weary of vampires and werewolves, too. Well, at least we’ve got three Hunger Games movies while they figure out what the next big craze will be. Maybe they’ll revert back to straight-up sci-fis again.

  1. Wow. I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It’s entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. Suzanne Collins has, with one amazing work, propelled herself onto my top shelf.

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    • Ohh and almost forgot the storyline is brutal. Even though the writing is geared for young adults, the main characters are teenagers, there’s very little physical romance, and the actual violence would probably count as PG-13 nowadays… it’s probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve read in a very long time!

      • Yes – terrifying. And gripping. My daughter is 14 and says a lot of her friends are hooked on the books. I can tell you – I was not reading anything this terrifying when I was 14. More like ‘Little Women’ and ‘The Melendy Family.’

  2. I read these a couple of years ago on the recommendation of an English teacher I met on vacation. The third book wasn’t out at the time and it was no fun waiting for it!
    My 21 yr old daughter read the first one on a flight back to the US – got off the plane and wanted to know who I knew who had the rest so she could continue reading them! She is a film major and a big Jennifer Lawrence fan so she is optimistic about the movie. I hope it is good. Very good. I usually don’t go to see movies if I loved the books, but how can one not go to this?


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