Over 150 fans gathered Thursday morning to hear Suzanne Collins read from "Mockingjay," the final installment in the author's blockbuster "Hunger Games" trilogy, at Scholastic's flagship store in SoHo. Fans at the store also received "custom stamped books" pressed with a unique stamp designed for Collins' book tour in lieu of signing books due to a hand injury.
"This is the biggest event since 'Harry Potter'," store manager Michael Strouse said. "We've been anticipating this book for over a year."
Fans lined up well before the store's opening at 9:00 a.m. Thursday, eagerly scheming for a prime position to see the author speak. By 11:00 a.m. when Collins was scheduled to speak, 50 children gathered on the storeroom floor, while many more adults stood behind them. Some adults wore "Hunger Games" t-shirts of their own and, judging by the looks on their faces, were more excited than the kids.
Maelis Mittig, a 22-year-old recent college graduate and fan of the series, traveled from Philadelphia for a chance to see Collins speak.
"It was awesome," Mittig said. "It was great to hear a voice put with the character."
This was a sentiment reflected by a number of fans who were impressed by the way Collins imbued the narrator with a rich, "futuristic Appalachian accent," the author told the crowd.
"It was different than I imagined," 12-year-old fan Sophia Leon said. "The voice sounded better than I imagined."
The novels, which take place in a post-apocalyptic world, tell the story of a teenager meant to compete in a televised fight to the death.
"The first time [Collins] read, I was surprised by her voice," said David Levithan, editor of the "Hunger Games" series and author of over a dozen young-adult novels, including "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist."
Levithan also remarked on the high-level of fandom the series has generated, noting that many fans now have permanent tattoos of the book's logo.
And how about a tattoo of his own?
"No. I don't think so," he said with a chuckle.
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