Tag Archives: Gale

The Hunger Games Movie

I saw the Hunger Games movie last night, and I have to admit I was pretty impressed. It was a very faithful rendering of the book. I only noticed minor changes that had very little effect on the total outcome. I was especially impressed with Josh Hutcherson’s portrayal of Peeta, and I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a very good job capturing the bewilderment and uncertainty Katniss feels as the threat of death looms before her. And the moment Katniss volunteers to replace her sister? Ah, that gets me every time I see the preview.

I was also very impressed with how Hollywood managed to keep a violent movie taken from a violent book from becoming disgustingly graphic. I maintain the same warning I gave in my book review; this is not a story for kids. (I’d recommend age 14.) It is the fight to the death between twenty-four kids, and it is horrifying. Yet, it is violence that condemns violence, if that makes any sense at all. It is disturbing watching packs of teenagers hunt down and kill others with joy and abandon, but I thought producers exercised a good deal of restraint. And the result certainly makes a statement about a society that would condone such a tournament.

It is this extreme setting that makes the relationships within the story so powerful, and it is here I was the most disappointed with the movie. I understand it takes about ten hours to read the book, and only two hours are granted film-makers to tell the same story, but here is where the movie suffers. The special friendship between Gale and Katniss is very abbreviated. Gale hardly features in this one at all. And I was disappointed at how little screen time Rue, one of my favorite characters, receives. And Thresh only shows up once or twice. I thought only the relationship with Peeta was given enough time to develop, and its complexity isn’t sufficiently captured, not by any means.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it felt a little void of emotion. The book horrified me. It brought me to tears. It made me cheer; it made me ache. In the end, it left me drained and completely awe-struck. The first Narnia movie left me with the same feeling. So did the first Lord of the Rings. But I was curiously emotionless when I left the theater last night. It’s enjoyable, and I’m anticipating the next one, but the movie, I found, has planted in me the desire to re-experience the story back among the pages of the book.

Read my book review.

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins, Book Review

***Mockingjay is book three in the Hunger Games trilogy. If you have not read the first two, skip to my Hunger Games review (book one) or my Catching Fire review (book two).

mockingjayIt’s over. I’ve finished the last book. Mockingjay ends as I knew it must end. And Katniss claims the man I knew she must choose. Yet the getting there elicited every emotion. I feel like I’ve been away on a long, traumatic journey and now I’m utterly spent. For hours, these pages have compelled me to push on through a grim, dark place before emerging with a tiny ray of hope, but now that I’ve succeeded, I miss Panem. I miss the characters that have become my friends. I want to go back there.

Mockingjay did not grab me immediately as The Hunger Games and Catching Fire did. It works in a little slower. I hated district 13 and felt like Katniss was wasting time there. I chaffed with her, wanting to get out in open air. Join the rebellion. Yet the interplay between characters was more intense. This book had a wider scope, with a wider cast, and deeper loss. It’s loaded with impossible choices, impossible consequences, and truths about humanity’s strengths and weaknesses. Ms. Collins digs more deeply into her characters, ferreting out motives and illuminating both flaws and honor. She wields effective symbols and draws honest conclusions. This, I believe, is the deepest book of her trilogy, yet it isn’t totally satisfying. Especially, I was wishing for some personal interaction between main characters in the final chapter instead of a sweeping finish.

Yet again I caution parents of younger readers. Mockingjay has very, very dark moments. Thoughts of suicide, hopelessness, torture, drug dependence, forced prostitution, and violence on a massive scale. It is meant for mature readers. Age 12 or 13 at the very least, and even then with discretion. Honestly, I’d not let my child read this one till high school. But the book is not all darkness. It applauds friendship, family, freedom, honor, sacrifice, hope and life.

In conclusion, I rate The Hunger Games trilogy among my all-time favorites. Ms. Collins has drawn me into the world of Panem, created three characters I can’t help but love, and spun a story impossible to forget. Read them!

Books available as a box set.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, Book Review

***Spoiler alert!  Catching Fire is book two in the Hunger Games Trilogy. If you have not read the first one yet, do not continue reading this. Instead, skip to my Hunger Games review then go out and get your hands on that book as quickly as you can!

catching fireThough I loved The Hunger Games, I picked up Catching Fire warily, fully prepared for disappointment. Sequels rarely fulfill my expectations (or warrant a review of their own). But in this case, Suzanne Collins has surpassed her first attempt. I nearly read it straight through, but my eyes closed of their own accord at 2:00 this morning and I had to finish the last twenty pages when I awoke.

Catching Fire picks up a few weeks after Hunger Games lets off, just before Katniss and Peeta must embark on their Victory Tour. It develops more fully the theme of rebellion begun in the first book and provides helpful insights into what Katniss really started when she defied the Capitol with the poison berries. (I felt the first book expected me to go along with these ideas without fully convincing me of them. This has been rectified.) President Snow himself visits Katniss to warn her not to incite the people to further discontent, terrifying her with threats to her family. Though she tries, Katniss is powerless to stop what she has already started. For she has become the Mockingjay, the symbol of defiance.

Revolution simmers all over Panem. To quell the rebellion, the Capitol comes up with an ingenious solution. It will demonstrate control over even the strongest of the strong and remove the rebels’ rallying point with one stroke. There will be a new Games. One played between past champions. Katniss must return to the arena.

I groaned as I read this fate. Surely Ms. Collins knows better than to recreate the first book all over again! Yes, she does know better. Surprise after surprise awaited me as Catching Fire played out, and my only prediction that came true is that both boys, Gale and Peeta survive to carry the love triangle into the last book, but the fate of one remains uncertain. Ms. Collins has left me on pins and needles, and Mockingjay is waiting on my bedside table, within easy reach as soon as I finish this review.

Again I caution parents of tweens. Catching Fire is meant for an older audience. Moments of violence await readers, and book two contains more sexual references. One of the contestants removes her clothes twice, trying to shock Katniss. Mention is made of the head peacekeeper buying favors from desperate, starving women to illustrate how rotten he is. And Katniss and Peeta sleep in the same bed repeatedly, though it’s to guard against nightmares and nothing actually happens. Appropriate, even mild, for older teens, but again, I would advise discretion for parents of readers under thirteen.

Perhaps I have become more accustomed to the world that is Panem, but the few dissatisfactions I held against The Hunger Games have not followed me into Catching Fire. I loved this book and could not put it down. I highly, highly recommend it. And if you’ll excuse me now, I’m off to read book three.

Read my Mockingjay review.

Books available as a box set.