Book or Movie: Hunger Games Trilogy

As I write this, the first two movies of the Hunger Games series are out. So, I will talk about those first and then my hopes, dreams and wishes for Mockingjay (even though it makes me crazy that they split the book into two movies. Seriously).

Hunger GamesCatching FireIn the interest of time and space, I will talk about the first two books in Suzanne Collins series together. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are quick, highly disturbing parts of a narrative that is disguised as a young adult series. Seriously, the whole premise of the first book – that we’ll take children and make them fight to the death so that everyone can remember how horrible and ugly the world used to be…even though the reality is that the world is still horrible and uglyit makes my stomach turn. I was introduced to this series just as the third book came out, so I could read Katniss’ whole story all at once. And, I basically did.

Collins creates a graphic, horrible, but well-written world. What I loved about these books was that it was entirely in my imagination and I could self-filter the really horrible parts into something less graphic and less disturbing in my brain.

I did, however, find myself increasingly exhausted by the love triangle. As my friend Allison said to me once, “does every YA book have to involve a love triangle?” Peeta, Gale. Katniss. For someone who seems completely able to make a decision about life or death things, wondering about boys is so out of character to me for her. And a little annoying to read, quite frankly.

But, the books are engaging and you want to know the rest of the story.

 

Now, the movies…

 

Hunger Games Poster Catching Fire Movie PosterTotal truth time here. Yes, the movie changes some major storylines in the book. Yes, there are parts that become way important later that are edited or left out all together. There isn’t much character development past the main characters, even once Katniss gets into training and the arena. It’s easier to root for her because you don’t know the stories of anyone else.

But, if I’m honest…

I liked the movies better. Especially Catching Fire.

There, I said it. The books are great, but there is something about the fast-paced story that plays out in a movie wonderfully. And, it worked especially well for me in Catching Fire. Middle books in a series tend to drag and do nothing more than set up the final installation. Therefore, movies made out of trilogies tend to do the same thing. I still remember watching the middle LOTR movie and it just stopping. And me being VERY ANGRY about that.

But in Catching Fire, the loss of extra story is almost welcome. The movie focuses on Katniss, Peeta, and the very dangerous game they are playing with the Capitol. As the world falls apart around them and the closing credit roll, you know one thing for sure – everything has just changed.

 

NOW, ABOUT MOCKINGJAY

Mockingjay Mockingjay movie posterI kind of, sort of hated the last book in this trilogy. It was more political and more depressing than I wanted the series to end up being. And, I still say Katniss’ character change is so abrupt and so completely unbelievable that I never connected with her in this story. She went from the girl willing to fight to the girl willing to be bossed around, and I don’t buy it. Not for one minute.

That’s the book.

The first movie comes out this fall. Yes, I said first. They took a relatively short book that could be a great two hour, intense story and instead decided to make it almost 5 hours of content. UGH.

Here are my hopes for the Mockingjay movie: Please let Katniss be stronger than she is in the book. Please let the scene with Peeta and Katniss, no matter how horrible it is, play out just as it is in the book. Please let there be something hopeful, something redemptive, something more to the story as it plays out on screen than it did on paper.

Please.

Final thoughts: The books are great, but really, you get the meat of the story (at least the first two parts) in the movies. If you’re not a reader, I wouldn’t pick them up if you loved the movies. My guess is you’ll be disappointed. If you loved the books and haven’t seen the movies, give them a chance. You won’t be sorry you did!

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