Hunger Games: Don’t hate me but I liked the movie better
Posted by LizzyBeth
Ok, I know everyone is buzzing about the Hunger Games. It is the new thing…just like Harry Potter, or Twilight. It is the new teen sensation and somehow or other it is effecting more than just young adults, as the twenty-something-crowd hover in the isles of the books stores and hungrily devour these books. (Maybe this craving and sensationalizing books by the twenty-to-thirty-somethings really is a side effect of all those years of reading HP, waiting with baited breath for each new novel and then the movies. We are to blame; we created the monsters!)
Warning!!! If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie: Spoiler Alert!!
Now, I am going to say it…and everyone who knows me is cringing (even I am cringing a little). I liked the movie more than the book*…
How could an English major be so cruel to a book? How could I, the proponent that books are always better than the movie, say such a thing!?
Well, let me explain. Here are my issues with the book
- First Person Present Tense! For some of you, I don’t need to say more but for those of you who are not convinced continue to read my other issues and you’ll begin to understand how limiting and annoying the perspective is.
- Katniss. (Yup, I said it, and many of you are going to hate me, but please hear me out). I love Katniss…she is as they say “badass!” She is everything a powerful, young, confident, woman could and would hope to be. But she is a terrible narrator. She is so limited, oblivious and self-absorbed that I find her version of events distracting, which is sad because the world is so fascinating and there is so much going on that Katniss does not know about or even comprehend. Hence, why the first person perspective in this book is, well, disappointing. All my complaints stem from this aspect of Katniss’s personality. She is in my mind the worst person to tell the story.
- The Capital: My problem with the Capital is not the Capital itself…it is how narrowly it is depicted and how shallowly it is described. Katniss knows hardly anything about her world. She barely even understands her own District 12. I constantly felt like I wanted or needed more of the world and Katniss could not deliver it. Her scope is focused on Prim, hunting, and survival. She does not comprehend her world outside of that, for which you cannot fault her. I understand those things are part of what makes Katniss, well, Katniss. I just wanted more of the world. I wanted to know how the markets and Peacekeepers work. What about trade with the other Districts? They have television and technology but how did it translate into the day-to-day lives of the Districts? So many questions and no answers. The Capital is this giant ostentatious thing that is never fully explained not because the Suzanne Collins doesn’t understand the workings of the world, but because Katniss doesn’t understand.
- Lack of introspection: Everything is told as the events happen. Everything is like watching a live broadcast of a game, which I have no doubt is part of Collins’ overall intent on using first person present tense. But this live play by play leaves very little room for understanding characters particularly when they do things that are not typical to their personality. Katniss does not spend a lot of time thinking about what she has done or why she has done it, which makes since with her survival instincts and skills. Her behavior once she gets to the Capital does not make sense for a character who is in essence has spent her life hunting in the woods, surviving. All of a sudden Katniss, who is described as being rather introverted, starts waving and smiling and acting like she might actually enjoy the attention. But she doesn’t reflect on her behavior. You only get what she sees and feels in the moment but not the thought process of introspection. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that she does think about what she is doing and that little glimpse we see of her then is invaluable. Katniss’s treatment of Rue is so beautiful. It is an elegant expression of human compassion in a world that is dark and barbaric with no sense of the true value of life. And Collins’ gives time for Katniss to reflect and give purpose to her actions.
Now that I have complained about the book, let me share my joy over how the movie corrected these problems.
First of all…I was not stuck in Katniss’s head! The story no doubt follows Katniss, but you get to see other characters and how they react to things that are happening to Katniss. I loved seeing Katniss’s mom and sister watching the Hunger Games and even seeing Gale sitting alone in the woods, knowing that they were each grieving in their own way. District 11’s reaction to Rue’s death was a brilliant add in. And I loved how the movie used the game show/athletic competition commentary to explain things and give depth to the world. Oh, and all the underhanded politics that went on with the President and the Game Master. It was all truly great insight into the world that I would have loved to have read in the book. It added such depth to the story, to the world, and all of the events.
Yup, the book was good, but the movie had so much more…well, more elements and a fuller perspective on Panam that I have to say I will definitely watch the movie again, but I doubt I’ll pick up the book again. So sad but true…maybe I am just too demanding, or maybe I just have issues. But for all of you who read the book and loved it – Love on! For those of you who understand my pain – come and commiserate with me. Let me know what you thought of the book or movie.
*Disclaimer: I have not read any of the other books in the series. So my assessment of the world and writing of the books are solely based on Hunger Games.
About LizzyBethThere is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.
Posted on March 30, 2012, in Books, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Literary Criticism, Movie Reviews, Rachel Burkholder, The Hunger Games and tagged books to movies, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Katniss, Prim, twilight. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.