The Hunger Games Was Just a 300-Page Movie Pitch Anyway

I read The Hunger Games (and its two sequels) last summer, so I’m mostly finding something to write about while I continue my never-ending slog through Moriarty. That said, as the movie comes out next week, I did want to throw in my two cents about the book-to-screen transition.

In short: it’s kind of pointless arguing whether or not a movie was necessary. I have never read a book so dependent on visuals and a book for which a movie adaptation was almost mandatory. In some ways, this story would have worked a lot better if it had just been a movie pitch from the start. While author Suzanne Collins gives us some insight into Katniss’s thoughts and feelings, Katniss remains a fairly cold and mechanical character whose motivation doesn’t go too far beyond survival, heroism and basic human compassion.

Most of the book is a combination of described actions, from the reaping to the games and the aftermath, but what the book lacked, and what is vital to telling this story properly is audience reaction.

Because Collins chose to tell the story from Katniss’s point of view, the reader is left to imagine how Katniss’s family, friends and “fans” are reacting to her progress through the televised event. The book would have been a lot more powerful if we were able to switch between Katniss and Peeta’s strategic romance and Gale’s reaction, for instance. Or the reaction of Rue’s district when Katniss lays her to rest. From the trailer, it does look like this is something that the screenwriters have rectified, I’m pleased to see.

I didn’t love The Hunger Games, but I am — for the reasons mentioned above — very much looking forward to the movie. I’ll probably offer a real review next week.

8 thoughts on “The Hunger Games Was Just a 300-Page Movie Pitch Anyway

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  4. You have a good point as far as the narration is concerned. It’s almost expository in nature the way she basically just lists events in chronological order and in sequences. She has very little visceral reaction even when she has to kill someone. I also found her a little difficult to relate to because of her immaturity in the first novel. But I have to say, subsequent installments seemed to improve as they went along. I just finished my review/opinion of Mockingjay and my opinion there was basically that the character seems to grow throughout the series (almost, but not quite the way that the Harry Potter series as a whole matured with its Target audience.) The Hunger Games was interesting, but Catching fire was more “exciting”, and finally, Mockingjay was probably the most emotion-provoking for me as a reader.

    • I had a bit of a problem with how clean her hands were at the end of the book (and, now that I’ve seen it, the movie). Essentially she only kills out of either mercy or self-defense. While this seems very noble, it’s also not terribly practical and I do think that it would have been more interesting to have a heroine who does have to deal with a darker part of herself that would come out in anyway in those circumstances.

      Maybe it’s because I read the books all at once, but they all blended together for me. In some ways, I liked that it did read as one cohesive story, but I didn’t necessarily notice the growth you mentioned. What was it about Catching Fire that you preferred?

      • Hi, TeaLeaves,
        I read them back to back too, and sometimes plot elements might run together for me, but I just try to think in terms of events to mark the beginning and end of each. About catching fire, I got really into the victor’s experiences in the ring and their actions and motives (if you are really curious, you can check out my review on each book; I go into more detail there.)
        You’re totally correct about her hands being clean, but maybe she just couldn’t bring herself to kill proactively (I am assuming, since, like I said, she doesn’t have a lot of introspective thought on the issues as the books go along. LOL). Maybe we all like to think we’d behave as nobly, but probably you are right in assuming our darker nature would take over. I think of it a bit like “Lord of the Flies Syndrome.” LOL

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