'The Hunger Games' books, film draw large local following

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When the highly anticipated film The Hunger Games reaches theaters at 12:01 a.m. Friday, three local teens will be in the audience wearing their Hunger Games gear.

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Davidson Fine Arts juniors Aubrey Day (front row, from left), Tyler Strong and Damla Williams, and Toni Wynn Creason (back row, from left) and Madelaine Wendzik are huge fans of The Hunger Games, a popular book series that has been adapted into a recent feature film.   LaTINA EMERSON/STAFF
LaTINA EMERSON/STAFF
Davidson Fine Arts juniors Aubrey Day (front row, from left), Tyler Strong and Damla Williams, and Toni Wynn Creason (back row, from left) and Madelaine Wendzik are huge fans of The Hunger Games, a popular book series that has been adapted into a recent feature film.

Aubrey Day, Tyler Strong and Madelaine Wendzik, high school juniors at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, have read all three books in the series by Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. They can’t wait to see how the movie compares with the first book, they said.

The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. In previous years, the 12 districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. In return, the districts agreed to send one boy and one girl each year to appear in a live, televised event called the Hunger Games, in which the youngsters must fight to the death. When Katniss’ sister is selected by the lottery to participate, Katniss decides to take her place.

Fans of the series can buy Hunger Games T-shirts, jewelry and accessories, wristbands, bookmarks, pillow cases, nail polish and action figures at local stores, such as 2nd and Charles and Hot Topic at Augusta Mall. Hot Topic has sold out of the popular Mockingjay pin worn by the main character.

The Hunger Games is No. 1 on The New York Times best sellers list for children’s series and has been on the list for 81 weeks.

The Davidson students agree that the characters are what they love about the books.

“It’s how well she writes the book into making you fall in love with her characters and really connect with them,” Aubrey said. “Everything bad that happens to them, you feel like it affects you, too.”

Tyler said he was attracted to the books because the plot was fresh.

“It wasn’t something that I’ve seen done recently,” he said.

After the first book, Madelaine couldn’t stop reading until she finished the series.

“They’re pretty amazing. It’s basically about oppression and people overcoming it. It’s so relatable. Even though the characters are at extremes, you can always find one character that you can relate to,” she said.

Kristan Pressley, a sophomore at West­minster Schools of Augusta, started reading the series two weeks ago when she learned the movie was based on a book. She hopes to finish the last book before the movie premieres.

“I read the first one, and I couldn’t put it down,” she said. “They’re all so addictive.”

The books have become so popular that Davidson student Damla Williams is having trouble finding Catching Fire so she can continue the series.

Fans of the Twilight series question whether The Hunger Games is a love story between Katniss and Peeta, but Damla and her classmates don’t think that’s the point.

“That’s a big conflict and part of the story, but the point to Hunger Games is all about surviving and revolution against the oppression of the Capitol,” Aubrey said.

The books are also popular with college students and adults. Jenn Morey, a junior at Augusta State University, said she was intrigued by the premise.

“I’d never really heard of anything like it before. The whole story was captivating in itself,” she said. “It was one of those where you pick it up and you read the first couple of chapters, and you’re like, ‘Yep, looks like I’m not sleeping tonight.’ ”

She was drawn to Katniss’ character and the fact that’s she a strong female role model. Also, though Katniss and Peeta are teens, they take on adult roles in their families because people around them seem brainwashed, she said.

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