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Op-Ed: Love, Loyalty Shine in 'Hunger Games'

A 12-year-old stays up way past her bedtime to see "The Hunger Games" on opening night, and just like the book trilogy, the movie does not disappoint.

Surely you’ve heard of the Hunger Games by now. It’s all anyone has been talking about these days, and for good reason. The books are amazing, and the movie was awesome.

I’m going to tell you why I love the Hunger Games, but let me give you a little background on the story first:

The Hunger Games is about a dystopian future, where North America is known as Panem. Panem is made up of one superficial Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The districts once tried to rebel, and the Capitol defeated them badly. Now, to show that the Capitol is in charge and to prevent any future rebellion, each district must choose one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to fight to the death on national television. The districts have to watch, and the Capitol citizens love it. They treat it like a reality TV show.

Katniss, a sixteen year old girl, volunteers to fight in place of her twelve year old sister, Prim. Katniss can hunt, and she loves her sister more than anything. Katniss has been protecting and providing for her family since her father was killed in a mine explosion, and her choice to volunteer for the Games and save her sister is no different.

To those people who say that the book sends a terrible message because kids shouldn’t be reading a book where teenagers kill each other, I would recommend you read and comprehend the book and its message first. The Hunger Games is about protecting your family and putting the lives of those you love above your life. Katniss is not bloodthirsty or ecstatic over the fact that children are dying. She’s doing what she has to do to survive and protect her family, and she’s rebelling in the arena, trying to stop the death match.

I love the Hunger Games because it’s different. It’s not your typical Twilight romance. It’s not about how terrible a girl’s life is until she finds her true love. It’s not about a fifteen year old who gets a zit and her whole life is over. Seriously, there’s a book where that happens. Marketed towards kids like me. It’s offensive.

Katniss doesn’t need someone to rescue her, she’s not miserable until she finds the perfect boy, and she is not all wrapped up in romance. She hunts, she kills, she stands up for herself. And the boys she loves (yes, there is a small love triangle in the story, and no, it’s not the major component of the book) are not the “Hotties of the Hunger Games” that reviewers talk about to try to appeal to girls my age. The boys have feelings. Katniss never describes them as hot or cute. She describes them as sweet, emotional and strong. Which I think is important to kids my age, to know that guys should be more than just looks.

I also loved the movie. My mom and I went to the midnight premiere this week wearing t-shirts she had made for us, because she’s awesome. We drove up to the theater, and every single poster outside was for the Hunger Games. Lots of people dressed up. We had fun pointing out the characters like pink-haired Effie at the snack bar or Katniss over there getting butter on her popcorn. It was like heaven to me.

Then we went into the theater, made eye contact with the friends we were meeting up with, and loudly shouted, “WHOOOOO!” We were expecting eye rolling, but the whole theater was yelling with us.

We sat down, talked through the previews and made our summer movie plans, and then the whole theater silenced as the movie began.

 Of course it wasn’t just like the books. That is never going to happen. But the added scenes gave depth to the story, and the things they took out weren’t that important. Some of the bad guy characters in the books were given more of a good guy angle in the movie. I liked that, because I think there’s a little good in everybody, and most of the “bad” characters in the story were just doing what they had to do.

I thought the movie was very true to the book. The emotional scenes made me cry, as well as some guy in the theater who wanted us ALL to hear how upset he was. I think he may have been crying through a megaphone.

The movie ended, we sat through all the credits hoping for a surprise that never came, and then we walked out of the theater, talking about the movie. I thought Haymitch and Effie were the perfect comic relief, Lenny Kravitz did a great job (Cinna has always been my mom’s favorite character, and she has the most embarrassing crush on Lenny), Jennifer Lawrence was a very realistic hunter, and Josh Hutcherson just WAS Peeta.

As soon as we exited the theater, the fact that it was three in the morning hit us. My mom and I said goodbye to our friends, and we piled into our car like the sleep deprived people we were. We got home and went to bed, with my alarm clock set for school the next morning. I dreamed about a preview to Catching Fire. It had a duck in it. I don’t know why. Probably because it was three in the morning.

I guess my whole point is that the books are amazing, the movie was amazing, and everyone should see the movie and read the books. I’ve read them about ten times myself. No exaggerating. My parents read them first, and when I turned eleven they handed me the first book in the series. It was the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Bravo, Suzanne Collins. Thank you for creating a story with a lead character I can relate to. Katniss isn’t obsessed with fashion and makeup and boys. She’s most comfortable outside in nature. She thinks. She cares about other people, and she’s loyal to those she loves. From your biggest fan, Bravo!

Sailor Nichols, 12, attends school in Gwinnett County. Her mother, Raven Nichols, is a freelancer with Patch.

Raven Nichols March 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Great description of what makes the Hunger Games' story a special one. It's refreshing to see so many young people respond to a strong female protagonist like Katniss. I loved the books and the movie too, but the best thing about them for me is sharing the love of a good story with my daughter.
Kathryn Sawyer March 25, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I have been very conflicted about reading this series, but thanks to Sailor I will be heading to the bookstore today! The reviews written obviously do not do justice to the story. Thank you, Sailor for taking the time to share your passion an encourage those to read this story who already have not!
Amanda Schmidt March 25, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Sailor I have asked many about the plot of this movie and none have made it as appealing as your article! Thank you for sharing your views on the Hunger Games!!
Cathy Henry March 25, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I loved these books for the same reasons that Sailor describes above. Katniss uses her head and her life experiences to save her life and protect others. She truly is a hero. Sailor describes it perfectly. I can't wait to see the movie. Thank you Sailor for insisting that I read the first book that lead to me reading them all. Great article and I am so proud of you :)
Laura Faulkner March 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Wow...now I'm hooked. Up to this moment, I might have been the only person on the planet who was not talking about this series. Thanks, Sailor. Your enthusiasm and great writing has fueled my curiosity..
Lori Leonhardt March 25, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I knew nothing about the plot and just ignored all the hype. After reading Sailor's review I will now need to read the books. Sailor you made me really laugh about the guy crying through the megaphone. Very well written review.
Agnes Nutter March 25, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I did not intend to brave opening weekend crowds to see this movie, but Sailor, you made it sound worth it. Thanks!
Brianne Smith March 25, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Sailor! Great reporting, its great to see girls gravitate to stories with so much depth and meaning! This trulynis a book for everyone, kinda like Harry Potter. My grandmother even read them and she loved them!!! I really thought the movie captured the uproar in 11 wonderuflly, so powerful!!! Great job girl, I know your parents are proud!!!
Carol Harris March 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful review of both the book and the movie. Can't wait to see the movie now! Very well written, too, Sailor!
Joy L. Woodson March 25, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I am finally convinced to give the book(s) and movie a go! Thanks, Sailor!
Melinda Franklin March 25, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Excellent review and I highly agree with her assesment of the books. Didn't realize they had been out that long. Guess I'm a little show on the uptake! Can't wait to see the movie now that Sailor has given it such a glowing review. I must admit I was a little hesitant as I've found most movie's don't do justice to the book!
Sherry Lott March 25, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Excellent review, Sailor. It was through you that Bob started the series and got us both hooked. Your writing and insight are amazing. Keep inspiring us!
Robin Simms March 25, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I wish more of the world could see with your perspective. Your thoughts are organic and truthful. I enjoyed reading your review very much! Thanks Sailor!
Bob Lott March 26, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Sailor, you are awesome! Because you recommended them, we read all three books, we'll always come to you for our next reading list! You are a brilliant young lady, can't wait to see what's next.
Cinda Lott March 26, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Sailor, Your article was wonderful. I have not read the books but will be doing so based on your review. You are an exceptional young woman. I am so proud of you. Keep up the writing I can't wait to read future articles.
Randalyn henry March 26, 2012 at 04:10 AM
It is thrilling to know that girls your age are being given entertainment that has more of a message to it than just "feelings of love". What a clever girl you are to be able to appreciate that at your age. I loved the books and thanks to you my excitement for the movie has grown even more. I can't wait to see it tomorrow. I love you, and am so proud of you!
Julie Durrence March 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
This is a fantastic explanation/review of the movie. I am going to show this to my 8th grade Language Arts classes. You continue to amaze me with your talent, Sailor! I am so proud of you!
Joy L. Woodson March 26, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Whohooo! Thanks for sharing Sailor's op-ed with your class!

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