The Hunger Games – Written by Suzanne Collins
Many literary snobs turn up their nose at Young Adult fiction. I am definitely not one of those people. I love the recent surge in Young Adult fiction, particularly fantasy, and their development into highly successful mooks. These novels fly off the shelves and become box-office hits instantly… so what is there not to like? I do recognize the many failed YA adaptations, but when given an amazing text to work with it seems natural to want a big-screen translation. A prime example of this is The Hunger Games.
I was first introduced to The Hunger Games by my 8-12 year old dance students. They would not stop talking about the despised “Capitol” and their beloved characters Katniss and Peeta. They begged me to read the book but I had brushed off the novel as being way too immature for me to read (the 10+ age gap between myself and my students was a red flag.) I soon began to realize that everywhere I went, someone was reading or talking about this book. I finally gave in and picked up The Hunger Games this past November. I literally could not put down the trilogy for the following 7 days.
Suzanne Collins is a specialist in children’s writing, and it shows in The Hunger Games. This novel is in no way a difficult read. The language is concise, the metaphors clear, and the plot lines are straight to the point. It is not a “literary masterpiece” but it is divine in its own right. Katniss Everdeen is an amazing female character and heroine. She is a strong-willed fighter who will do anything to survive and, in my opinion, is a fantastic role model for young readers. The novel is told from Katniss’ perspective so we are limited in what we know, but from the start it is clear that Gale Hawthorne plays a major role in Katniss’ life. However, once the games begin, he is discarded and becomes a very minor character. The same is for Katniss’ sister, Primrose. Katniss is constantly talking about how much Prim means to her but we barely know anything about her. This is a serious problem I had with The Hunger Games and felt myself feeling empty towards the minor characters.
Undoubtedly, this novel is a page turner and the casual attitude towards the violence in Panem is eerie. Collins keeps us in the dark about information surrounding the Capitol, the games, and the districts (one of the reasons why the following two novels are so thrilling.) I found myself trying to scrape up any bit of information I could find and trying to piece it all together. Although this is considered a Young Adult book and the main characters are all children themselves, there is nothing childish about Collins’ dystopia and its transgression to the screen should be nothing short of incredible. I anticipate it to be a box office smash.
“The Hunger Games” – Directed by Gary Ross
First, I would like to thank my good friend Matt (@mattw6789) for taking me to an advanced screening of “The Hunger Games” yesterday afternoon! If you are one of my twitter followers (@Mookology), you may have seen my tweets of HG-themed cocktails and countdown posters. It was amazing! Now, onto the movie.
For all you fans of the book series, be prepared to see some changes. These are minor changes, mostly, with a few added elements. However, these things needed to be done in order to present the Capitol, the Districts, and the Games with proper detail. In the book, we are inside Katniss head and she guides us with information on the world she lives in and how the Games work. What we miss in the film without Katniss’ narration is made up for with added scenes and explanations.
One of my favorite things about the movie, for example, was that we are able to see the Gamemaker Headquarters (which is AWESOME!) which gives Seneca Crane a much larger role. Everything about the Capitol is quite intense, super glamorous and a stark alternative to the lives in the Districts. The movie is able to put the Capitol on display in the way the book cannot. Gary Ross does a great job of directing in the sense that each aspect of the films’ settings are different and capture the mood of the scene.
The casting was phenomenal. I am a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan and it was no surprise that she was fantastic, but everyone else was equally as powerful. Elizabeth Banks as Effie was hilarious in all the right ways and probably one of my favorite portrayals in the film. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, who I was nervous would not impress me at all, was PERFECT and he completely reinforced my “Team Peeta” mentality. Lastly, Stanley Tucci as Ceasar Flickerman is flat out flawless and becomes the face of the Capitol in the most strange and corrupt way. Ceasar Flickerman narrates the Games as if it were the Superbowl, which brings to the surface how twisted the Capitol is and how far removed it’s citizens are from the sanctity of their tributes’ lives.
The only problem with being such a huge fan of the novels is that “The Hunger Games” film feels rushed, even at 2 and 1/2 hours. Katniss and Rue’s friendship is so short lived and, while powerful, you just want a little bit more. The same goes for Katniss and Peeta’s romance. But these small issues in no way harmed the integrity of this film.
“The Hunger Games” is a gem in an era of franchise movies and I hope everyone who sees it feels the same. It’s impossible not to! I had super high expectations and this film met most of them with flying colors – and has me eagerly anticipating its sequel, “Catching Fire.”
Mook Rating – ★★★★1/2