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.