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Because so many MillersTime readers (including this editor’s daughter) put The Hunger Games’ triology on their ‘best reads’ list of the last year or two, and because the first of the three films is now out and setting all kinds of box office records, I succumbed to both the books and the movie over the last several weeks.

So here’s my take on the books and the movie. (If you haven’t read said daughter’s take on them both, check out her review here).

The Hunger Games
: The Books ***1/2

I started the first book on a Sunday night and read most of the next two days, finishing the third on that Tuesday night/Wednesday early AM.

That alone says something.

They are page turners. The first two are better than the third, I think. Tho once you’ve started and are hooked, you will probably finish all three.

The Suzanne Collins’ triology is not to be mistaken for Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series nor J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, tho there are a few echoes of both.

I suspect there may be more parallels to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series (those I haven’t read) and various reality TV shows, with some attempt at a futuristic overlay.

One of the criticisms of The Hunger Games is that the trilogy is written more for a younger crowd than say The Millenium books. But so were the Harry Potter books, and those were read with much pleasure by folks of many ages. While there’s not the depth, cleverness, intrigue, sophistication of Rowling or Larsson, Collins nevertheless gets the reader and holds on for most of the trilogy.

Sum? Not great literature but involving if you don’t expect too much.

The Hunger Games, The Movie, Part I **

Doesn’t hold a candle to the book.

While it’s faithful to the story-line from the book, it hasn’t been translated well to the screen.

That’s often the case for me — I usually like a book better than the film of a book. And that’s definitely the case here.

The casting is good, particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and several others do well with the material they are given. But for this adult, the translation from the book to the movie is pretty dismal. While I was somewhat engaged, perhaps because I wanted to like the film, I was never entranced nor on the edge of my seat.

Artistically, there is no threat here to the Harry Potter films nor the Stieg Larsson ones. Much of the two hours and twenty-two minutes just didn’t seem real.

But the film continues to set box office records, and, according to my unscientific sample of six of the 25 seventh grade students who saw the film at the same time I did (in the middle of the day!), three of the six liked the book better than the film. However, all six liked the movie.

So what do I know?