The Hunger Games may have fit neatly into a “young adult” category in its early marketing, but this trilogy featuring a 16-year-old heroine from the future is at the leading edge of literature that is bringing the entire family together.
The story made the leap from page to screen because Hollywood producer Nina Jacobson – hardly the target demographic – fell in love with the story on her own. And the actress cast to play the young heroine, Jennifer Lawrence, was introduced to the futuristic world by her own mother.
Tales of multigenerational bonding over this parable of an oppressive, autocratic corporatocracy abound.
“What is amazing is the power of literature to reach beyond the boundaries that marketing sets up,” says Karin Westman, an English professor at Kansas State University who has taught both The Hunger Games and that other successful crossover series, Harry Potter. Because of broader access to information and the ability to share conversations more easily, she says, “we are finally reaching a point where it is typical for a book to cross boundaries, rather than for it to be seen as an anomaly.”
This trilogy is particularly powerful for families to share, she says, because it relates to so many primal issues such as sibling loyalty and family survival.
Themes of family tragedy and endurance in the face of hardship are what led Maria Perez, a New Jersey public-relations executive, to bond with her 13-year-old niece, Claudia Perez, through the books. “My niece lost her mom in December 2010,” she says via e-mail, adding, “She loves to read, so I thought the book would offer her some catharsis, since the main character lost her father.” They plan to see the movie together when it comes out next week, she says.
The book share has worked well, says Claudia, also via e-mail.