Sunday, March 25, 2012

The District sleeps alone tonight

So many friends hyped up The Hunger Games trilogy that I finally had to read the first book. The plot was well-known: in a post-apocalyptic North America, two teenagers from different districts are sent as "tributes" to the Capitol to battle to the death.

For starters, it was written in the present tense, which I hate. It was also predictable, even if the warrior-reality-TV-survival-romance plot was complicated.

I liked the concept, though: the oppressed districts struggle to survive under a brutal regime. The reader can sense a revolution coming in a future book. (Hmmmm, I wonder who will lead it?)

And I loved the fact that traditional gender roles were reversed: the heroine, Katniss, is the fearless archer, hunter, and provider for her family. Her fellow tribute (and predictable love interest) Peeta is the baker's son who is at home in the kitchen; he's the blindly besotted one, wounded and helpless, who has to be rescued by the heroine. It was Girl Power to the extreme. Awesome.

Then I saw the just-released movie. It was remarkably faithful to the book, perhaps because the author helped with the adaptation. Though I'm split on the merits of the few differences between them, I think I liked the movie a little better than the book.

One scene in particular that is very different was the aftermath of the death of Rue, a fellow tribute whom Katniss befriends. While I loved that part of the book (which has District 11's residents scraping together to send Katniss a loaf of bread), the scene in the movie was more powerful (District 11 salutes her , then riots). Not ashamed to say I was crying from the scene where Rue dies, straight through the riots.

The other thing that's missing from the movie is Katniss' own conflicted thoughts about Peeta, her fellow tribute. In the book, it's a little clear she has a subconscious crush on him; in the movie, it's not. Also lost in the movie is Katniss forming a bond with Cinna, her stylist.

The additions in the movie, though, were brilliant: unlike the book, we see exactly how the Capitol manipulates the Hunger Games for ratings and to control the Districts.

The Atlantic had a great analysis of the movie in terms of the Occupy movement and the 99%. So it's hard not to correlate current affairs to the book's development, each time the tributes or the residents of the poorer, outlying districts need basic things like food and health care.

Meanwhile, in the real District of the real Capitol, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act tomorrow....


Misty said...

I'm with you - I like the movie more than the book. I don't think that Suzanne Collins writes emotions well, so Katniss is somewhat a difficult character. Jennifer Lawrence's acting chops, plus the direction, gave the character more depth. I'm looking forward to seeing if they can improve on the 2nd book, which I think has too much Gale-Peeta schmoopiness and doesn't do it particularly well.

Rainster said...

People's reactions are so different! Heidi just saw it today and didn't like the movie at all. I still think it's better than the book. Looking forward to the next two!