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Hunger Games - Book Review

Essay by   •  July 1, 2012  •  Book/Movie Report  •  2,241 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,376 Views

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There is a long process from the time a book is published to when it hits the screen. Movie studios buy the options to books, and a script is then drafted. Usually, the author does not have a say in the matter. In any case, the transition from page to the silver screen can leave behind the story as we know it. The first book of The Hunger Games trilogy was recently released as a film. The best seller by Suzanne Collins went through a lot of changes in the movie version.

The Hunger Games book is about a future dystopian society in the county of Panem. The county is divided into 12 districts plus the capital. In order to remind the population of the foolishness of a failed uprising, every year each district has to send two teenagers to fight in a televised death match called The Hunger Games. The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, fights to survive while also helping Peeta, who is also from District 12, and has declared his love for her. The cover of The Hunger Games is black, featuring a gold mockingjay --a crossbreed born from genetically engineered male jabberjays, and female mockingbirds-- with an arrow inscribed in a circle. This is an image of the pin given to Katniss by the District 12 mayor's daughter, Madge Undersee, which Katniss wears in the arena. The image matches the description of the pin that is given in the book, except for the arrow: "It's as if someone fashioned a small golden bird and then attached a ring around it. The bird is connected to the ring only by its wing tips" (Collins, 42).

The Hunger Games books were published by Scholastic, and the movies are being distributed by Lionsgate. Producer Nia Jacobson has said, "The suspense of 'The Hunger Games' is heightened by its spirit of moral inquiry, and Suzanne has entrusted Lionsgate and me to bring that moral perspective to the adaptation -- a charge we fully intend to honor." However, the Hunger Games book and movie had their differences.

In The Hunger Games movie, there is a competition to the death (designed as a punishment for rebellion) among children (chosen at random) in different regions. Katniss's sister is chosen to compete, so Katniss volunteers instead. She takes part in the completion against other children, including a potential love interest.

Katniss has to win The Hunger Games so she can help her starving family. In the movie, she is more motivated to avenge the death Rue, a young black girl killed during the competition. Suzanne Collins portrays Katniss's fellow combatant, Peeta as a main supporting character. Gale is a friend from home who is also in love with Katniss. His role is less prominent in the movie. In Gary Ross's Hunger Games movie, Peeta is the main supporting character.

The Hunger Games are an exciting event for the different districts in Panem; for the contestants, it is something they must face and train for. Haymich is an alcoholic who mentors Katniss for the games. He is seen at the beginning of the movie and is mostly forgotten for the rest of it. For the 12 districts of Panem, The Hunger Games are as much of a spectacle as a fierce competition. The contestants are paraded before cameras in fine clothes, and go on media tours. It is like are Olympics, except for the death part.

To prepare Katniss for the media campaign before the games, Cinna designs fancy clothes. Katniss objects to this, but Haymich reminds her that winning does not just involve skill and weapons. You have to market yourself: be presentable and people will like you. The advantage being the moral support and allies you can get during the games. If two players form an alliance, they can find and share food as they cut their way through the jungle. Katniss was essentially marketing District 12.

The main dramatic moment in the book comes when The Hunger Games begin. The movie itself was kind of anticlimactic, but I cried when Rue died. While the book tells you everything from Katniss's perspective, the movie takes a look at the bigger picture. You can read the book and imagine Panem in your head, but the movie is presented in the vision of the screenwriters. This presentation can change one's perception of the books, which is why some people do not watch movie versions of their favorite books. (I was guilty of this when Harry Potter was released on film, but I relented a few years later).

I would rate Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games book as a four out of five, while the movie was only a three. The books were made for teens, and some scenes are violent. The movie cleans things up a bit to score a PG-13 rating. There are too many young kids who read and watched The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games trilogy has 37 million books in print, while the first movie made $632,328,576 worldwide.

Violence and fighting to the death are themes that have come under fire from parents and school groups. In addition, some people find objection to the romantic themes in the books and movie. Katniss must make her way through the macabre game while her peers are speared, stabbed, mauled, burned and broken. It's an involving but violent read that Time's Lev Grossman described as a "chilling, bloody and thoroughly horrifying book, a killer cocktail of Logan's Run, Lord of the Flies, The Running Man, reality TV and the myth of Theseus and a Minataur" (Grossman, 30).

While the love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta is a theme throughout the three books in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series, the first book primarily focuses on the relationship between fellow games competitors Peeta and Katniss. As Katniss narrates in The Hunger Games book: "This is the first kiss that we're both fully aware of. Neither of us hobbled by sickness or pain or simply unconscious. Our lips neither burning with fever or icy cold. This is the first kiss where I actually feel stirring inside my chest. Warm and curious. This is the first kiss that makes me want another" Collins, 297). A lot of parents would not want their children reading such quotes. However, the movie focusses more on the violence than the romance, so parents will have to decide for themselves what the trade-off is.

Stephen King calls the romance in The Hunger Games "standard teen read stuff." The rest of The Hunger Games, however, is "a violent, jarring speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense and may also generate a fair amount of controversy... How many young adult] novels feature one character stung to death by monster wasps and another more or less eaten alive by mutant werewolves? I say more or less because Katniss, a bow-and-arrow Annie Oakley, puts the poor kid out of his misery before the werewolves can get to the prime cuts" (King, 15).

"Hunt first the enemy, then the woman," says Russian expatriate Count



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