Thursday night I sat in the theater for two hours waiting for the lights to dim and for The Hunger Games to finally begin. It had been a long wait after reading the trilogy almost a year ago and finally getting to see it on the big screen. I was nervous to say the least. What if they had taken one of my favorite books and turned it into crap? I was already unimpressed with the actor, Josh Hutcherson, that they had chosen for Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth looks nothing like the Gale I had imagined.

The book takes place in the country of Panem, post-apocalyptic North America, which has been divided into twelve districts. Each year, there is a reaping in each district where the Capitol chooses a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death in what they call The Hunger Games. The story is through the eyes of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence. It all begins the morning of the reaping when her younger sister, Prim, is chosen for the games and Katniss steps up to take her place as a tribute along with Peeta Mellark.

Ten minutes into the film, all of the fears I had of them ruining it were gone. District 12, where Katniss lives, was as broken down and ruddy as I had imagined. They stayed true with Katniss’s bow and arrow and the braid down her back. There was the love and protection that she felt for her younger sister, and the unmistakable bond between her and Gale.

It’s a two and a half hour film and over way too soon. Every actor was perfect for their character, even though I didn’t think so walking into the theater. Hutcherson was a phenomenal Peeta. He was cute, charming, and made me fall in love with the character just like I had in the book. Although Lawrence doesn’t have black hair and olive skin like Katniss in the books, she was born to play that role. In the scene where she holds a dying Rue—a tribute from District 11—I had to reach over and grab my friend’s arm because my heart was completely shattered. Even Hemsworth was able to make Gale, who I thought was a rather boring character, have a personality and made me like him.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark

If you’re a fan of the books and skeptical about seeing this movie, don’t be. I haven’t heard a negative word about it from anyone and I have already seen it twice. It’s exciting from the opening scene of Prim having a nightmare of being chosen for the reaping to the end when the screen goes black and you feel the dread of waiting a year or so for the next in the trilogy, Catching Fire.