AdSense Leaderboard Ad

Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games

As I noted here on my blog, last weekend our family went and saw The Hunger Games movie in the theatre (click here for my review of the film). I mentioned then that my wife had read the series and my teenaged son was flying through the books too. So, I decided to dive in and read the series as well.

Last night I finished the first of the books by author Suzanne Collins. I thought I would take a few minutes and offer my thoughts on the book, how I felt it compared to the film, etc.


As one would expect, the story line for the film matches that of the book though there is clearly an adaption at play to make it fit for the big screen. There was a lot of ground to cover, from the reaping to the preparations to the Games themselves to the aftermath.

The book tells the story in first person, present tense from the viewpoint of the heroine Katniss Everdeen. Because of that narrative choice, I find that the book is hindered a bit. We only get Kat's opinion on the Capital and its cruel competition. We only get her suppositions on what is going on behind the scenes. As an amateur writer myself, I know the challenges that come from choosing that way to tell a tale. You have to walk a fine line to get all the details in without the reader feeling you've cheated.

The film is not so limited. There we see more of the manipulations behind the Hunger Games, with scenes with the President, the event's producer, and the announcers. There we get faces to go with the evil actions. It really adds to the commentary on real- world reality programming. I always enjoy it moe when the villains of the piece are fleshed out. That is a point in favor of the film.

I also think the film better portrays the garish excess of the Capital. From Effie to Cinna to Haymitch, the images are enough to convey these characters to me. The book descriptions we not as strong for me.

With 374 pages, the book has room though to expand upon a few key relationships. The first is that between Katniss and Gale, told through extra flashbacks. The second is the large time spent with Kat nursing Peeta Mellark back to health. This is important to set up the romance side of the tale, as one sided as it is. The film had to economize in both these parts of the story to fit everything in two hours. That is a point to the book.

Having seen the film first, that one made the better impression on me. Had I read the book first, I might have been disappointed by the cuts in the cinematic adaptation.

After all this, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I think Collins has created an interesting backdrop; I want to see where she takes it in books two and three.

3 comments:

Andrea said...

I am about 70% through the book now, so I wanted to finally read your blog to see if I would like to go see the movie. I think I agree with you, getting to see how the game is manipulated, would be a plus for the movie. I wonder how much input the author had on the movie? Thanks for the review. :)

Martin Maenza said...

Andrea, I felt the movie added a lot more to the story as far as other characters like President Snow and the other folks in the Capital. I think you might like the film.

I read somewhere that Collins (the author) had a good amount of involvement on the adaptation to the film script. Since she came from TV writing originally, I think she probably has more strength in a visual medium like that and film. As I noted, I think her narrative viewpoint of first-person is what hindered the books greatly.

Martin Maenza said...

Andrea, I felt the movie added a lot more to the story as far as other characters like President Snow and the other folks in the Capital. I think you might like the film.

I read somewhere that Collins (the author) had a good amount of involvement on the adaptation to the film script. Since she came from TV writing originally, I think she probably has more strength in a visual medium like that and film. As I noted, I think her narrative viewpoint of first-person is what hindered the books greatly.