Hunger Games Anniversaries

We’re getting a little nostalgic at Victor’s Village lately. The third movie is out, and there’s only one more to go. And four years ago, talk of the impending first movie going into production was swirling about. Personally, this time of year makes me remember that fateful day four years ago when I was really bored and thought “what the hell?” and downloaded the book to my Kindle. AND MY WORLD CHANGED FOREVER.

Yes Katniss, I was an idiot. I deserve it.

Yes Katniss, I was an idiot. I deserve it.

Not, the best or sweetest anecdote, but the odds were not in The Hunger Games‘s favor that I would read it. In December 2010 I was an MBA student, which meant I spent so much time reading business cases and articles that I really didn’t read for pleasure anymore. I’d heard plenty about the books and knew they were bestsellers but I didn’t read anything so silly as YOUNG ADULT books. Because young adult books to me were Twilight, a movie that I watched once when I was drunk. And The Hunger Games sounded really violent and I told myself I didn’t like stories with too much violence.

Ok, feel free to despise 2010 me for being the judgmental, close-minded kind of person that I complain about now. But at least fate intervened, and I learned my lesson. Which is why I tend to harass people who are doubters to read the book because I swear to them that IT WILL SURPRISE YOU in so many wonderful ways. And that they will still be so engaged in the story that four years later they will happily write things about it twice a week. Oh, wait that’s me.

It’s funny the little things in life that point you in new directions. Because my decision making process to read the book was so mundane. I was bored since my finals were done and my flight home wasn’t for a few days. While lazing on my couch, I read this little blurb in Entertainment Weekly about Gary Ross being selected to direct the movie and figured I’d finally give the book a chance. I guess I owe a lot to Entertainment Weekly for giving me that final nudge? Wow, it feels uncomfortable saying that.

Within a few pages I knew I had made the right decision. I knew because I loved Katniss. I felt like I understood her and understood how she viewed the world, which is incredibly bizarre to say since I’d experienced 0.01% of the trauma in my life that Katniss had at even the beginning of the book. Yet I still felt a kinship with her from those first few pages that only grew as it went along.  I was so surprised how Suzanne Collins skewered all the things that worried me about our culture, how RELEVANT it all was. I was not expecting that. I was not expecting that at all from a book about “kids killing kids.” I got so into it that I yelled out a lot, I punched my couch a lot, I had to get up and jump around to release all my nervous energy because the book gets so intense. And I got so attached to Peeta midway (before the announcement of the 2 winner possibility) that I had to go to Wikipedia and spoil myself a little bit to know that he did not die at the end of the book (I figured Katniss would win, I knew there were 2 more books and didn’t figure Suzanne Collins quite for the George RR Martin type). I couldn’t bear to keep going if he died. Suzanne Collins made me love him just too much. Overall she made me feel too much. So by about 8pm that night I was done and buzzing with excitement. I couldn’t believe what an incredible book I’d just read.

Maybe it’s the surprise of falling in love with a story out of the blue, of realizing you were so utterly wrong about something, but December 17, 2010 is an important day for me. Reading THG made me realize, like so many others, that the “Young Adult” stigma was keeping me from a lot of great stories. While I have yet to find a “YA” book that I love as much as THG, I’ve learned that no matter what age group they are primarily marketed to, good books are good books. So tomorrow I’ll probably mark the day by picking up the book and reliving it again.

 What made you decide to pick up The Hunger Games?

JJ

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8 comments

  1. It was 2011. I had just found out I love books. My list of must-read books was evergrowing. But them I heard THG was in production and there was a internet buzz about it. Then Josh got cast. The internet was mad hahah. I merely thought, “I know him!”. I did have time to go out and buy a copy, but I threw my must-read list away and downloaded the book. Let me get this straight: I was 14. Still, I had problems with YA too. Like Katniss would say, so far, I wasn’t over overwhelmed with our choices when I comes to Young Adult literature.
    “I’ll go for it anyway,” I decided. Besides having some kind of competition where kids murdered kids and being set in the future, I didn’t know anything about the plot. At first, I thought Katniss wasn’t going to be a tribute! I don’t know what I was expecting. I had this thing going on where I was 100% excited when the only thing I knew about a book I was about to read was its title.
    So yeah, my couch suffered a lot too. I probably read the trilogy in 3 days. I remember my bed. The couch. My mom telling me “the diner is ready! GET OUT OF YOUR BED!”. My house late night, dead quiet, but I couldn’t sleep at all. I had to know what happened to them. These people I grew to love.

    I believe what made my experience so unique was that I jumped into Katniss’ character. At first, you could see me trying to figure out what Peeta was thinking. He was so mysterious. Just like Katniss did realize later on, “Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there.” It was that easy for me to love Peeta and trust him, even if I wasn’t sure why I did or if I should.
    I’m growing with these movies, the books introduced me to so many subjects I wasn’t interested by then. I see myself and the world differently after it. From politics, social justice, love, human behavior, heroism and how this concept fits in the real world. We genuinely have a consistent, strong book. e.g. Katniss loving Peeta. Is neither fictional love, nor fairytale love, but real love. That’s why I think some people don’t get it. I’m so thankful Suzanne twisted every expectations we had.There’s this text post on tumblr that I like to remember myself regularly: “Treat people like Peeta Mellark would treat them.”

    I’ll stop here cause I could go on forever talking about these last four years. I love this blog., since I’m active in this fandom. It’s my fav THG blog. It’s great to discuss about what we love with people as passionate as us, even if we don’t agree with each other sometimes, which is natural. But please, after next year you guys have to keep Victor’s Village alive.

  2. I love reading this! It is amazing to me how many adults love and chrish this book series too. The first guest post I wrote for VV was about my own experience crossing over from a reader to a.fan. I’ll have to go back and read it, and see how my feelings about THG have.evolved over the years. Suffice it to say that I read the books right before the first movie came out. I had just gone through a very traumatic event, and was nervous to read something “so violent”, but when I found out that not only my siblings and parents read the books but my dad stayed up til 5am to finish Mockingjay, I thre in the towel. I read the whole series in 4 days. Ignored my small children. Basically I threw food at them and told them to go away. I was so engrossed in Katniss and Peeta’s characters. I loved Katniss’ grumpiness and her confusion and her vow to not let the Capitol hurt her by refusing to fall in love and have.children. I loved the Epilogue when she still has fear but she breaks her vow and lets herself.live and have a.family. Katniss modeled courage to me at a time I needed courage. And now 3 years later, I love these characters more than ever. Every time I read THG I find new layers. Thank you Suzanne Collins for your gift to the world!

  3. I first heard the book “Hunger Games” from some avid book readers in the library but I really found out the phenomenon of the book through the initial casting in 2011. I got turned off by the book because everyone was saying it was the “next Twilight” and I was stupid enough to listen to them. However I saw the first trailer on yahoo and was blown away. When Jennifer first yelled “I VOLUNTEER”, I was hooked and I knew I had to read the entire trilogy. I finished the books during Christmas Break and became completely obsessed. I never read a character like Katniss, who was so complex and flawed but yet felt so real.

    It is so weird looking back on it now because I had no idea the Hunger Games would be so influential in my life. During my first read, I really was engrossed in the action and the world of Panem. After I read Mockingjay for the 2nd time, I began to realize what Suzanne Collins’ message was and made me see world problems in a different light. I am so thankful for everyone here for sharing your thoughts so I don’t have to be alone in my obsession. 😀

  4. Enjoyed reading your piece! Just like you I read the Hunger Games out of the blue or maybe it was fate (lol!). I’m not the type who joins the hype and not into YA also because of that series you mentioned. I only got to read THG in March 2012 a few days before the movie came out, but not because of the film’s promotion. I knew there was movie coming but wasn’t fully aware of the craziness, the publicity and the fandom.

    Some people i know love the trilogy. I also remember reading a review of THG a few years back from a local writer and critic here in the Philippines whom i highly respect because she has high standards and good taste in literature. She really liked the book, so it got me intrigued to buy and read it myself, but life got in the way and I forgot about it until 2012.

    By that year, I’ve seen the THG trilogy in book displays a lot, but never thought or tempted to buy it. But whenever I see the trilogy I kept thinking and telling myself that ‘Yeah I’ll read it some other time.” For some reasons I just keep on postponing that ‘some other time.’

    Finally on March 18, 2012, I bought a paperback copy of THG. I was in the bookstore just browsing through the shelves and of course I saw again that familiar black book with that golden bird and an arrow. I wasn’t planning to buy it at that time, but I told to myself, ‘Ok why not?’

    Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect when I opened my newly purchased book. But, from the first sentence I’m hooked and further on the story I knew I’ll not be able to put the book down. I never thought that I would be greatly disturbed and engrossed by the story, the characters and the writing.

    Reading the THG trilogy especially the first one I could say without exaggeration is really one of the best surprises and decisions in my life.

    Speaking of remembering, apart from the date (March 18, 2012), I remember where I was when I read THG (sitting on a couch in a beauty salon while waiting for my turn). I also remember the time (past 8pm), and the weather (it was drizzling). Also, I was hungry, tired and my head aches. The fact that I remember those things says a lot and is a big deal. Actually, I want to go back to that first time I read the Hunger Games and relive my feelings of awe and astonishment.

  5. Around when the first movie came out, my best friend and roommate decided to get the books. He ended up loving them and kept loaning his copies to me with the hope that I’d read them.
    Well, I was always “too busy” to get around to it, and soon our last school year ended and I hadn’t touched them. Funnily enough, YA stigma and similarities to Twilight (to this day I have not read or seen it) was not a reason I didn’t read it. And I never made a comparison to Battle Royale (The Lottery on the other hand…; slightly unrelated, but that story one of the few high school readings I actually got a kick out of).

    Fast forward to the end of the year, and I’m on a trans-Pacific flight. One of the options is The Hunger Game, so why not?
    Next thing I know I’m getting the books myself and burning through them.

    Less than a month late, I’m getting into fanfiction… then writing it.

    And now I’m on this site.

  6. I was really young when I first heard of the books– 7th grade. It was a few months after Catching Fire came out. My English teacher was obsessed with the series. Two other people in my class had read them per her request and they would occasionally get in discussions about the books (it’s weird thinking about a time when only a handful of people had heard of the series). I had no clue what the books were about, but judging on the cover, I thought they were super sci-fi, fantasy, which turned me off because I am not a huge fan of fantasy. Seriously. I thought it was something like Eragon. Flashforward a year later and it’s the first day of 8th grade. Coincidentally, the first day of school was also the day Mockingjay came out and my teacher had rushed out to get the book before school. She was going to loan it to students after she read it and the moment that follows is what made me want to read the series. Everyone was fighting to be the next to read it. I was surprised – and impressed – by the reaction. I still did not know exactly what it was about, but I knew I wanted to read it. Jump to January 1, 2011 and I find the first book on sale at Walmart and I buy it (which was out-of-character for me because I hardly ever buy books that I haven’t read first). I can’t remember my reaction when I first read it (LOL, but I do remember flipping through and, knowing there was a love triangle present, thinking the two males “vying for Katniss’ attention” were Peeta and Haymitch). Honestly, I remember liking the book, but it was not my favorite. Then I got my Entertainment Weekly magazine (I have a subscription) and saw an article on the filming. It was going to be filmed in North Carolina. I live in North Carolina. I freaked. I immediately looked up the locations online and, what do you know– the film was rumored to be film in my city of Wilmington. I then became obsessed. I checked fansites every day. Looked for film news from local and national sources. I loaned the other two books from a friend. I remember loving the twists in Catching Fire. I picked up Mockingjay at a bad time (right around testing at school) and read the first 100 pages. I returned the book to my friend because I had held onto it for too long. One of the reasons I wasn’t as motivated to read it? I had read spoilers online. Yup, all of the major shocks? Spoiled because some idiot decided to post them without warning in a comment on the Mainstay video. But either way, I was obsessed with the books at this point. Read The Hunger Games over and over. If the films weren’t rumored to shoot in my town, I probably wouldn’t be as obsessed. It doesn’t matter that they ended up shooting in Charlotte instead. I had already sold my soul to the series by this point. I remember stumbling upon Victor’s Village the week the site started and you guys just added fuel to my fiery passion for the series. I loved the fandom. It felt great to share one collective goal with so many people– waiting for The Hunger Games. So far, waiting for the first movie is my favorite time of being a fan. I even skipped class to see the first trailer reveal. Now I’m rambling, but this series and its fans are so important to me. Next year, when Mockingjay Part 2 comes out, I’ll be 18 and in college. I’ve truly grown up with the series and I’ll never forget all of the amazing experiences of the past few years.

  7. In my case, it was the first movie. I had known about the existence of a book or series called The Hunger Games from my online friends from the Buffy fandom who talked about it, and I gathered it was good, it was a dystopia (a genre I like) and that Katniss was considered a great female protagonist – something I was inclined to believe when it came from Buffy fans. I didn’t even know THG was considered YA (or, for that matter, what the YA moniker even meant).

    But when I saw the trailer, which happened to feature Jennifer Lawrence (who I had only seen in X-Men: First Class, but I really liked her in it) and, more importantly, showed her volunteering for her little sister (which brought to mind Buffy season 5), I had to watch the movie. I saw it, loved it, was sure after that ending that there must be more than one book and that the next book/movie must be about a rebellion (which the ending of the movie seemed to be setting up) and that I couldn’t wait to see, so I made an effort to obtain the books in English (I don’t read translations if I can help it) and read them immediately.

  8. Reading this in 2015!! Woo!

    Ok, I’m not here to share how I fell in love with the series(I’ve done that on another site already) I just wanted to express how much I can relate to every single last one of the words in this post. Literally. My experience in discovering THG series is very eerily similar to yours, JJ..bored, prejudge-r of the YA genre, shocked into love and devotion on realizing how wonderful the book actually was, and a loyal faithful forever changed fan always.

    I love this fandom and how so many different people from various backgrounds and age groups can come together and all agree that Suzanne Collins is one wickedly kickbutt story teller.
    I also love the irony of how the message in her books has united diverse real life people together in common interests.

    Anyway, thanks for the post.

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