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The Hunger Games Books and Films - Review by Ashlee, Staff Blogger


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***Possible Spoliers***

Thanks in part to a very successful movie adaptation, I’m sure you’ve heard of this dystopian novel in which children are forced to fight to the death in a televised gladiatorial arena. Some have even called it the “next Harry Potter,” so I was very excited to read this first book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.The Hunger Games - book cover

For me, at least, while the book is quite entertaining and certainly addicting (I literally couldn’t stop reading and had it finished in a day), it’s not as special as I would have hoped. Certainly no Harry Potter, at least for me, largely because I wish the author had paid more attention to the world-building and characterizations.

I was pretty disappointed that with all this new technology, what the game-makers chose for the arena was essentially a glorified forest. I wanted something more exciting, like that barren wasteland mentioned where everyone either froze or starved to death in a few days. Good luck hiding in trees there, Katniss!

Speaking of Katniss Everdeen, it was refreshing to read about an awesome heroine who definitely doesn’t want children and who couldn’t care less about her appearance and who has romance forced upon her instead of choosing it. But she felt like kind of a blank slate in the books. I wanted to know more about her background, like in the flashback scene with Peeta and the bread. Her overwhelming, all-encompassing love for her sister felt forced and kind of awkward to me because we hardly get to know her sister at all. (Though I did like Rue, who’s basically a stand-in for Katniss’ little sister.)

Despite this, I was very interested in not necessarily what would happen but how it would happen. How Katniss would outsmart her opponents, how she and Peeta would learn to at least tolerate each other, how they would win over the crowd, how they would deal with certain injuries. In that respect, the book kept me riveted, and I also felt connected to the message of how de-humanizing reality television can be (though surely just watching one episode of reality TV might accomplish the same goal) and the exploration of the widening power gap between the wealthy and the poor.

Those were issues I had with the book. However, the excellent movie adaptations (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire) have so far managed to avoid those issues. As you might imagine, much of the success the films have enjoyed is due to the charismatic Jennifer Lawrence, the award-winning actress who plays Katniss with desperation, intelligence, humanity, and soul. Is there anyone who didn’t tear up in the scene in which she holds up the District 12 hand salute showing her love and respect for Rue? In addition, the world-building is more detailed and obvious in the movies, with the obnoxiously glitzy fashion choices of the rich citizens of the Capitol contrasted with the poverty and fear in the Districts.

I very much look forward to the next movie (the third of four), part one of Mockingjay, scheduled to be released November 21, 2014.

Ashlee,

Staff Blogger

Mockingjay Trailer:

 

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