I love books, but do have a few favorite screen adaptations- Little Women with Katherine Hepburn, The Prince of Tides and Wuthering Heights among them. When it comes to my son, I long ago created a rule that he needed to read the book before he saw the movie. This started because of Harry Potter, but has generally served us well. That is, until the Hunger Games was released into theaters this spring.
Dystopian literature isn't his thing. I am sure I have mentioned he consumes fantasy and historical fiction at an alarming rate, but rarely has he picked up a dystopian novel. At 11 he prefers his villains to be obvious and the plots and settings to be other worldly. As a result, he never even asked to read the Hunger Games. But when the movie came out, he was desperate to see it with the rest of his friends. I broke my rule. I let him see the film. I answered all of his questions, as I had read the entire series. Seeing the movie did not make him want to read the book. And this is why I made my rule in the first place.
And now what do I think of the books. Suzanne Collins is a great writer. The themes are complex and
skillfully constructed, but may be difficult and alarming, particularly
for the youngest of readers. The book is targeted to "Older Readers" but, I realize that once
something is popular it is hard to hold kids back, especially if they
are begging to read. Parents have asked if they should let their child read the book. And my advice to these children's parents, and any other, is that you should read it first yourself. You know your kid. Reading the novels will help ascertain your child's readiness and equip you to answer any questions they might have.
One other note:
If you read the first book you should read them all: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Together they have a very powerful message about human's ability to survive.