OK, I waited and waited to do a post about this book because I first wanted to see the movie and include my take on that as well. Now that I have read the book & seen the movie, I’m ready. Let me say before you go any further that this post is full of spoilers. If you haven’t read the book &/or seen the movie yet, and you want to do so without any knowledge beforehand, STOP READING NOW!!!!!
I will do my best not to spoil the ending, but the beginning & middle are all up in here.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I debated about actually doing this post. I try not to do book reviews because, if I finish a book, I enjoyed it, and I hate to cloud people’s judgment about a book based on my own feelings. I would hate to be the one who convinced someone not to read a book. But this book would not stop bugging me and folks have been raving about it so much that I had to post something. I’m hoping I’m not the only one who had some of these thoughts/feelings. I had many issues with this book. Not to take anything from the work of the author because I do think this was a VERY good read, my issues are mine alone & related to my own ideas and experiences. First of all, I do not like war storylines. I don’t watch many movies that have to do with war, either before or after. I can appreciate the historical relevance and all, but war & post-apocalyptic stories always give me pause & little bit of the willies. I’ll read a war-era/war-based novel before I’ll see a movie of that nature. And even then, it may take me a while to open them after I buy them.
So on to the book. I believe it was marketed as a kid/teen book but, in my opinion it is not kid-friendly. While it does to touch on some ever-present issues, truth be told, those issues would be lost on many kid readers and they are completely skipped over in the movie. For one, there’s the issue of classism, and that the districts are basically numbered by affluence. Considering that District 13 was obliterated in a war by The Capital that would make District 12, the district that the 2 main characters are from, the poorest district in the nation. However, even inside that poor district, there were people who were rich, by district standards. This is explained very well in the book and glossed over greatly in the movie. In the movie, you don’t come to understand that Katniss was a great hunter because she had to learn how to support her family after her father’s death. In the movie you don’t learn that Katniss and Gabe have over 30 entries in the lottery each because they basically had to barter their lives for food and supplies for their family. Then there was the glossed over way the folks dressed in District one. I mean, in the movie it just looked like elaborate costumes, you don’t get that the folks there dressed like that every day because they were filthy rich. Also, in the movie, the way Katniss gets the mocking jay pin is totally wrong. I was actually offended by how poorly that was done, but I’m trying not to spoil too much.
Then you have the runaway who gets picked up by the searching ship & gets her tongue cut out as punishment. She was totally omitted. And as small as she may have been in the book, she showed the wrath of The Capitol, and I do believe that is something that needed to be seen for the sake of the 2 sequels that are sure to come.
Another issue I had, but I understood to an extent, was the fascination that people had with the games, in spite of the fact that they were watching children massacre children. Brutally killing them for SPORT. Not survival, not in self defense…well, yes in self defense but only because they were in a game were murder was sport….FOR CHILDREN. Yet people watched the games every day. Everybody, not just parents with kids in the games. This was even lost on some of the folks in the theater. They were reasoning as adults would when the announcer for the games retracted a valuable ruling. Some of the adults in the theater responded with “well duh” & “you had to know that was coming.” Totally forgetting that the 2 main characters in the story were 16 years old. No, they wouldn’t see deceit coming. They would see hope, and cling to it.
Haymitch’s inner conflict is totally ignored in the movie. He’s portrayed as a horrible, crass drunk instead of someone who was cunning enough to win the games, the only person from District 12 to ever win the games, and the only person who was responsible for the training & preparation of every tribute, every year after his win…of which 0 came home. I mean, imagine training 12-18 year olds for 20 years to have to bury them all…I’d certainly be a drunk. And I’d be less & less invested with every passing year, too.
There were things that were added to and taken out of the movie, and while they were interesting and certainly had some relevance…they were not in the book. There was no riot in District 11 after Rue’s death. Only a gift sent to Katniss from the district as a thank you to her for helping Rue. The beasts that appeared the last “night” in the book were created from the dead tributes…not in the movie. That is a detail that would have certainly shown the crassness and savagery of The Capital and the Game makers, because that created a conflict within Katniss of having to possibly kill Rue, after having grown so attached to her. You also get side commentary & actions from people in the Capitol, while in the book, the only thing that exists once the games start, is the arena. While I can understand why the writers of the screenplay felt they should add some more info to the movie, the detail in the book could have stood on its own, and maybe if they’d stuck to the book details, they could have gotten some other things right…like the damn mocking jay pin (I told you I was offended).
I was going to mention some inconsistencies in the ending of the book and the movie but now, I don’t think I’m going to. For one, this post is umber long and that was not my intent. I’m going to, of course, finish the trilogy, but I don’t think this series is kid-appropriate. Unless said kid is very mature. I know of some 10 & 11 year olds who read the whole series and after reading book one, I was like…oh hell no!
Lastly…the superstar cast…wonderful! Some of my favorite actors were in the movie. That helped with my disappointment over the screenplay…for a little while.