Murray Close
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."

And I thought I had it bad with Simon Cowell.

Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times best-selling series “The Hunger Games,” takes suspense, forbidden love and twisted entertainment to a whole new level in her post-apocalyptic series about a government-sanctioned reality show in which “tributes” from 12 districts compete to the death for a lifetime of riches.

And these contestants are children.

When I first heard about the premise of the book, I was appalled — and completely intrigued. Both my mother and sister read the books before passing them on to me with the warning of many wee-hour reading sessions with flashlights just to finish “one more chapter.” They are that compelling.

For young adult categorized novels, this series is definitely not on the same playing field as, say, Brandon Mulls’ “Fablehaven” or even Stephenie Meyer's “Twilight Saga.”

“The Hunger Games” movie premiers this weekend and you bet I’m going to be in that theater, smack dab in the middle row biting off every last one of my nails.

But would I take my young nephews or nieces to the film?

Depends on the age.

Because of the extreme graphic descriptions of some of the tributes’ deaths in the story, I would say that any tween or young teen that has a hard time with watching or reading about violent acts would be haunted by these disturbing images for weeks.

I’d say the PG-13 rating aptly applies to the movie and should apply to the books as well.

But even with the extreme role of the government and horrible images of "The Hunger Games," I found the feeling and emotions of the story to be fascinating — and disturbingly spot-on.

Collins tells a compelling story that is maybe just far-fetched enough to make us think twice about our current reality.

So while I personally can’t wait for the debut of the very positively and critically acclaimed movie version of “The Hunger Games,” I would say don't take anyone younger than junior high age to see it.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.