Theatres across the Grand Strand are quickly selling tickets for the much-anticipated release of the movie, The Hunger Games, set to open Friday. Many are holding midnight screenings that have begun to sell out. But are the books and movie too violent for some of the young adult audience it's targeting?
The story by Suzane Collins follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem, where the countries of North America once existed. The Capitol, the government that runs Panem, holds absolute power over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive. In the story, Katniss volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister's place in the bloody games.
The books have become popular with the students of Aynor High School.
"I would say about a quarter of my students have read the books, and many of them who I wouldn't expect," says English teacher June Rodham.
The students have even completed projects where they constructed a handmade movie sized poster and a move trailer for the Hunger Games.
"I really relate to Katniss. I used to live in New York and was in the woods all the time. I like that about her character, and the fact she's so strong," says high school senior Brittany Gray. Gray's already bought her ticket to a midnight showing of the movie.
The books have sold 322 copies at the Myrtle Beach Barnes and Noble in just two and half months.
"We keep putting them on the shelves, and they keep flying off," Justin Jordan, Community Relations Manager for Barnes and Noble said.
The violence of the games themselves have caused concern among some parents.
Brittany Gray agrees. "There are some scenes in there that aren't meant for younger kids."
Online reviews for the series, which is reccommended as a young adult novel, are mixed. One review says, "Parents need to know that this is a story about a reality show where 24 teens must kill one another until only one survives. They do so with spears, rocks, arrows, knives, fire, and by hand. It's not unduly gory, but there is lots of violence, all of it teen on teen."
Another says, "The Hunger Games is written for kids ages 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness."
And another said, "These are violent, disturbing books, and I find them a bit dark to be marketed to adolescents."
Jordan says they sometimes get younger readers who come in wanting to buy the book.
"A lot of times when younger kids are going in and their parents are coming with them, we actually forewarn them about the content of the book and that they're deciding as a family what's appropriate. We're not going to tell you what and what not to buy. That decision is best left up to the parents."