This past weekend, I went to see The Hunger Games. After recommending these books for the past few years, I was so excited to finally see the big screen adaptation. While I really enjoyed it, the book was better, as is typical many times. But what really made this interesting, was the theatre full of teenagers and their enthusiastic discussions prior to and post-movie.
There are readers and there are non-readers. With the development of “trend” fiction (first Harry Potter, then Twilight, now The Hunger Games), more and more non-readers are joining the pack to see what all the excitement is about. This happens especially before and during a movie release of a “big” book. While regular readers have often already done the whole series by the time the movie version comes out in theatres, non-readers often jump on the bandwagon, curious to see what all the hype is about. I’m not complaining…anything that gets kids to read is important. (The fun thing is that a big book also brings in the parents who want to know what their kids are reading. This has been true for all three of the last trending books.) But aside from these books, non-readers probably will remain non-readers in the long run. Too bad, because there are a LOT of great books out there.
While we were waiting outside the theatre to buy tickets, a gaggle of teenage girls discussed the book vs. movie at great volume. They were excited and enthusiastic and well versed on the book. It’s wonderful when kids know all the little details, and can discuss the pros and cons of having them changed in the movie version. You’d think that a movie theatre full of kids in the 10-18 demographic would be noisy, but it wasn’t. After all, the movie-goers were readers!
Trends will come and go, and thankfully, they seem to evolve within juvenile or young adult books….right when we need to capture someone and get them into longtime reading. (Not that it’s too late when a person gets older, just that it’s relatively rare to start reading voraciously after becoming an adult.) Right now, we’re still well into the dystopian themed books (end of the world, post-apocalyptic etc.,) and it doesn’t look like we’ll see that change any time soon. It’d be nice to see a stand-alone contemporary YA book garner a little attention from non-readers, like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. But for now, I’m happy to see young people debating the merits of a book over a movie. Speaks to my heart.