The Hunger Games Trilogy (via marynyriene on Flickr)
10-12. The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay), by Suzanne Collins
It’s been a long, long while since a book that’s not already a favorite has been so captivating, and so to come upon a full trilogy that did was just wonderful. The Hunger Games trilogy is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem, where the Capitol holds power over the twelve districts, the inhabitants of which live in varying degrees of poverty. Each year, the Capitol arranges a huge televised event called The Hunger Games in which one boy and one girl are chosen from each district as “tributes” and thrown into an arena to fight it out to the death, until one victor emerges.
The first person narration was quite jarring at the beginning but the intensity of Katniss’s thoughts, actions, and surroundings becomes almost hypnotic, especially in “Mockingjay.” It might be because I read all three back-to-back, but the injustice and moments of emotional intensity all come in these waves immediately one after another and the tragedy is spellbinding. When Katniss says “It’s not what I breathe in, but who, that threatens to choke me” while roaming the charred ruins of District 12, I felt as if I just read a line out of a genocide survivor’s memoir. The parallels to our society today and images of what it could become are just frightening, again especially in “Mockingjay.” At first I felt like I was seeing a bit of a sexist/anti-feminist streak with Katniss’ makeovers but it clicked, how even our “good” celebrities and influential people have to be made up to be closer to the ideal than they are for others to take that first step to value them and like them, and then hopefully listen to and trust them (which also reminds me of the “more beauty = higher wages” scientific studies, and then also the simultaneous beatdown women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama receive for wearing shorts in 100 degree Arizonan heat or having a tiny bit of cleavage showing, and yes I’m frustrated with WaPo’s Robin Givhan for making something out of nothing and dumbing down the accomplishments of her own gender while she’s at it).
The story, especially in the first book, reminded me a lot of another I read in fifth or sixth grade about another dystopian society with a televised game where kids were thrown into an arena, except I think the arena was the North Pole. The filming for the show was done through cameras lens inserted in the participants’ eyes and soon this is figured out and with help from a night-shift audio editor who sends them messages, the kids figure out a way to overthrow the system. The novel was less violent than The Hunger Games trilogy because it was more about surviving together than trying to kill everyone else off, if I remember correctly – anyway, if anyone knows what book I’m talking about, do tell!
I’m not sure how I feel about the “The Hunger Games” movie, because there’s just so much in the book that won’t fit into the movie. Of course there are events that’ll have to be taken out entirely to fit the movie into under two hours or however long American movies usually are, but it’s mainly all the thought and deliberation behind Katniss’ actions, the subtle movements and connections she has with Peeta, Gale, Rue, and Haymitch, that I just can’t imagine being carried out on screen right. But I should give Collins more credit than that because she’s adapting her novel for screen and she’s had experience with script writing before. I hope that they don’t lighten the story up (though they’ll have to, considering the target audience for the movie) because the violence and gore in the book would definitely be R-rated, and if not in the first book than the second and third most definitely. But even if the movie itself turns out to be magnificent I can’t help but think that all the vague Twilight parallels will be drawn out (though let me make it clear, there can be no legitimate comparison). In Allison’s words, “Call me selfish, but I do not want to share the experience I had with Hunger Games with those people [crazy fan base of the movies]. Maybe I’m mean, but they don’t deserve to turn it into cray-cray land. No way.” There frickin’ better not be “TEAM GALE” and “TEAM PEETA” or heaven forbid “TEAM HAYMITCH” shirts and posters out there after the movies. You can fan-girl but fan-girl with some dignity and knowledge…
Also here’s to hoping that the actors and film industry people involved with the movies aren’t like those of the Twilight movies because holy crap they bash on their own movies aalllll the time and just can’t wait for them to be over with, which makes me laugh because I don’t like the Twilight books at all but if that happened to The Hunger Games, TT_TT. Maybe just achieve like, a quarter of the awesomeness that made up the Harry Potter cast and crew, that would be amazing ^___^
The trailer has at least one good sign — Jennifer Lawrence is wearing gray contact lenses to match the description of Katniss’ eyes in the book! And that’s a fairly small detail (considering the green-eyes-gaffe in the Harry Potter movies, since Harry’s eyes being the same as Lily’s was an important detail from the books), so kudos to the costume people & whoever else. Whee looking forward to this!