Hunger Games (book & movie)

On Saturday, we gave into our children’s pleadings (whinings?) and took them to see the movie, Hunger Games, since everyone in their grades had seen it already.  After getting home from the movie, I then promptly read the book to see how true to the book the movie was.

Book first (priorities are priorities).  Hunger Games is classified as a Young Adults book and is a quick read for adults.  That being said, the book is well-written, well-paced and with an original, if dark, plot.  The characters are complex, neither entirely good nor evil and are well-rounded.  The heroine, Katniss, is both likeable and unlikeable.  It is a surprisingly sophisticated novel.  I enjoyed it, although the premise is extremely dark.

Now, the movie.  The movie is very true to the book (not surprising, since the author, Suzanne Collins, co-wrote the screenplay).  It is, however, much more graphic and violent.  The book, while it contains violent scenes, does not go into overly detailed descriptions of the violence.  And the movie does as much violence offscreen as it can.  (The movie is rated PG-13.)  However, the plot is by definition violent, and the movie can’t hide that fact.  It is beautifully filmed, with the director doing a lovely job showing things from a particular character’s perspective, and the actors and actresses all do a good job (with a particular shout out to Stanley Tucci).

All that being said, the plot is disturbing, especially since it deals with children and violence.  I like violent movies and even darkly comic violent movies, but this is neither.  It’s difficult to have any light moments when you’re reading or watching about a group of children who have to kill each other until a single victor emerges.

If you can get past the plot, the book is well written and enjoyable (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads) and the movie is an excellent adaptation of the book.  You just have to get past the plot.

I am told (by the aforementioned pleading kids) that the second and third books of the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) deal more with the possibility of impending rebellions against the totalitarian government.  Now, that is a plot I can get into!

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