Tag Archives: The Hunger Games

Movie vs. Book: The Hunger Games

Contributed by Sam Smink

At one time there was an uprising in the post-apocalyptic country of Panem, and one of 13 districts was wiped away against the force of the Capitol. To remind the districts of the cost of an uprising, 24 “tributes” are annually shoved into an arena of deadly surprises until only one comes out alive in the Hunger Games.

The film version of The Hunger Games does a great job at establishing the relationship between its heroine, Katniss, and her younger sister, Prim. We witness the first difference from the novel early on. In the movie, Katniss gives Prim the Mockingjay pin to protect her. In the book, the mayor’s daughter, Madge, gives Katniss the pin. But a Madge-less movie makes little difference, especially since it allows us to witness the closeness of Katniss and Prim, further developing their relationship.

Another difference in the movie is that there’s very little setup regarding the District 12 “strategy” that Haymitch develops — a love story between its two tributes, Katniss and Peeta. I wish the film had done more to set up the fact that this was Haymitch and Peeta’s plan from the beginning, particularly since the strategy is what causes Katniss and Peeta to fight at the end of the novel. Therein lies another difference. The movie needed to delve more into Peeta’s anger at the end when he realizes the “love” was all a ruse on Katniss’s part.

There also wasn’t enough background established with the Katniss, Peeta, Gale love triangle. Many of us have been asking ourselves Team Peeta or Team Gale but here, I felt no personal connection to either.  In actuality, Peeta’s love is true, selfless and heroic. Here it just seems like any other crush for those who haven’t read the books. They also needed to establish more of a friendship between Gale and Katniss.

As far as the Hunger Games themselves, I sat on the edge of my seat, holding my breath throughout the entire games, despite knowing the outcome from the books. Brilliant film making. The style of the games was shot realistically, so you felt like you were there yourself. Not to mention, the Hunger Games is like a reality show, so the shaky one-camera style fit perfectly. They also did a nice job of showing the violence without overexposing it. The PG-13 rating certainly didn’t diminish the quality. You saw people die; you just didn’t see it thrown in your face.

We learn after the Games that Katniss has put herself in a very dangerous position because her actions throughout the games are seen as rebellious — the start of a revolution. But the film shows us the revolution starts even earlier. After the death of Rue, the movie reveals that District 11 starts an uprising against the Capitol. This is a piece of information that, in the books, is not revealed until Catching Fire. The choice to include it in the first movie in the trilogy, however, is a smart move because it needs to set up for the sequel.

Another difference: Seneca Crane. He was only briefly mentioned in the book as Gamemaker. But in the movie, he gets a pretty decent part. He’s used as a mechanism for describing the evil and power of the people in the Capitol. I think we could have seen a little less of him. Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman did a well enough job of providing commentary for those not familiar with the story.

All in all though, fantastic work. The actors could not have been better cast, and all the right ingredients were there. It was moving, it was exciting, it stayed mostly true to the book. Everything worked. I’d even see it again, especially since there’s still another year-and-a-half until another Hunger Games. But until then, may the odds be ever in your favor.



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Making The Hunger Games Your Bible…Literally

In case you haven’t heard or read enough about The Hunger Games in the last two weeks, here’s some out of the ordinary Hunger Games news for you. A Bible study group from North Carolina has been hosting Hunger Games-themed Bible study classes.

That’s right. According to this article by The Huffington Post, two reverends, Andy Langford and Ann Duncan, say they’ve found a number of parallels between The Hunger Games and the Bible, like selfless love and sacrifice. Since January, about 80 people have attended their sessions called “The Gospel According To The Hunger Games Trilogy.” The pastors say they felt this would be a good way to relate to teenagers in their churches, as Duncan explains.

“We’re not trying to make [the series] something that it’s not, but we’re trying to find themes that we as Christians can relate to,”Duncan said in a press release.

The study is available as an e-book on Amazon, as a means to reach people outside of their North Carolina community. So what do you think? Does The Hunger Games have religious undertones? Is this a good way to get people talking about religion?


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Review: The Girl Who Was On Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy

In this smart, witty book about the entire Hunger Games trilogy, 16 young adult authors join forces to analyze the series that set one heroine on fire: Katniss Everdeen. The Girl Who Was on Fire is a collection of essays — analyses, literary criticisms that look at every aspect of the trilogy and either explain — in better words than you or I could– exactly what you were thinking when you read the books or completely change your point of view about them.

From essays like “Did the Third Book Suck?” to “The Politics of Mockingjay” to “Crime of Fashion,” the compilation covers each thematic aspect of the trilogy. It’s the perfect book to read right before or after seeing The Hunger Games movie this week. And so, I give you a sneak preview of some of the most interesting points made in this amazing book. You’ll quickly realize that if you’re a Hunger Games fan,  you’re going to need to get a copy or else I’ll send you a white rose…

1. Team Katniss — Whereas many of us readers, particularly the women, focused on the Team Peeta or Team Gale romantic subplot in the series, we bypassed the more integral player: Katniss, herself. She’s a difficult character to unravel and understand. But as The Girl Who Was On Fire explains, we don’t know Katniss because she has no desire to be known. But we do know everything she does is for either her survival or her family. So we should be focusing on those aspects of the novels, not who’s the better boyfriend.

2. War and The Hunger Games — Yes, the fascination with reality television — or manufactured reality — is an obvious theme in the novels. And while we often find ourselves comparing the books to competition reality shows like Survivor, it’s also worth noting there’s a bit of actual war news mixed in. Suzanne Collins herself admitted to coming up with the concept for the books from reality TV and the war in Iraq. And what’s more — as another essay points out — virtually every character in the series suffers from PTSD, another sign of war.

3. Characters Who Mattered More Than You Think — Each author who contributed to the book seemed to have a different idea as to who fueled the rebellion. Was it Katniss? What is The Capitol for allowing Katniss to take charge? But some of the lesser characters also played crucial roles. For instance,  Cinna, who made Katniss catch on fire in her bridal-gown-turned-mockingjay costume in Catching Fire. He may have made the costume, but he also defied the Capitol publicly by doing so, and quite literally turned Katniss into the mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion. There was also Gale, who another essayist points out, was always the “doer” between he and Katniss. (Even in the beginning, Gale would talk about running away from District 12. Katniss would just listen.) And he refused to give up on the rebellion, pushing it along no matter who it — or he — hurt along the way.

There’s so much more I would like to say about The Girl Who Was On Fire, but I’ll leave you with this. If you’d like to know what caused these authors to draw comparisons to Marie Antoinette, V for Vendetta, The Real World, and Ancient Rome, you should probably just get a copy.

Now you can get it in paperback for $9.93.

Or get it on your Kindle for just $4.49.

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Review: The Hunger But Mainly Death Games

Recap: In a post-apocalyptic world, only one girl stands the chance to win the epic teen death battle against 23 other opponents: Bratniss Everclean. The Hunger But Mainly Death Games is a witty, ridiculous take on the popular Suzanne Collins trilogy The Hunger Games. Instead of Katniss Everdeen, the story follows Bratniss Everclean. While the overall story is basically the same — teenagers fighting each other to death in a nationally-televised event — the parodied version goes to new extremes.

For instance, the fighters kill each other through cannibalism, defecation, and strangulation with intestines. The book is at times grotesque and disturbing. The author seems to have some kind of obsession with defecation throughout the book. The characters often don’t shower, live in garbage, and eat moldy mayonnaise.

But there are other components of the story that are rather brilliant, such as its breaking of the fourth wall, its self-aware quality, and its jokes about young adult teen novels in general — not to mention cracks at Harry Potter and Twilight. It also uses very current pop culture references to make cheap, but hysterical jokes.

Analysis: To be honest, the potty humor and violence throughout the book was too much for me. Though it was funny, it was disgusting. But I also appreciated it in that it was the author’s way of pointing out how ridiculous the actual Hunger Games story is, when you really think about it.

But the highlights were the book’s references to other popular young adult fiction. For instance, the character Hagridmitch. He’s the parodied version of Katniss’s Hunger Games trainer Haymitch, but he’s actually Hagrid from Harry Potter. Somehow stuck in the wrong young adult teen novel, he constantly refers to Bratniss as Hermoine, talking about Harry and dragons. That is, until Oofie (the parodied Effie) stops him to avoid copyright problems. Hagridmitch appears throughout the book and almost always had me laughing. There’s also a scene that references Twilight author Stephenie Meyer in the most hilarious way.

The book also takes jabs at young adult fiction in general — like its emphasis on love stories — in The Hunger But Mainly Death Games, Pita (the parodied Peeta) is a crazy stalker, the popular use of first-person narration and the often ludicrous decisions made by the main characters.

Some fans of The Hunger Games may not like the book. The Hunger But Mainly Death Games, as I said, points out some of the ridiculous aspects of the original novel and obviously, makes fun of it. Some may also not enjoy the level of grotesque jokes. But overall, it’s a funny, quick read that’s sure to make you laugh at least a few times, whether you’re a fan of The Hunger Games or not.

MVP: Hagridmitch, without a doubt. The author was brilliant to include this character that serves as a metamorphosis of Hagrid and Haymitch. After all, the two characters serve virtually the same purposes in both teen series. Hagridmitch was consistently the funniest character in the book, and in a parody, that’s a perfect character.

Get The Hunger But Mainly Death Games now for just $7.79.

And get the e-book for just $0.99!


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Hunger Games Movie Marketing Boosts Book Sales

People are getting hungry for The Hunger Games (See what I did there?) The movie version of the bestselling book is still two months away from debuting in theaters, but the hype has convinced people to crack open the book.

According to this article by The New York Times, circulation of the series — including The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay — has more than doubled since the summer. That’s when production on the first movie began. At that point, only 9.6 million book in the series were in circulation in the U.S. But now, that number has climbed to about 23 million copies.

With help from the movie’s production company, Lionsgate, people are getting excited, as Brooks Barnes and Julie Bosman explain.

Tim Palen, the studio’s chief marketing officer, started adding kindling soon after, slowly doling out images of the characters — including Jennifer Lawrence as the young heroine, Katniss Everdeen — and sneak-peek film footage to MTV…The first full-length trailer made its debut on Nov. 18 (with “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1”), igniting Facebook and the blogosphere.

Scholastic officials say this isn’t all Lionsgate’s gates doing. The holiday gift-giving season and word-of-mouth also contributed to the spike in sales. Either way, there’s still more to come. Scholastic will release special movie tie-in version of the books February 3rd, which is sure to improve sales further.


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Get Hunger Games Boxed Set Trilogy for $31, Down From $54

With The Hunger Games coming to theaters in just a few months, it’s about time you either read or reread the trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Yes, it’s a teen series, but it’s the one everyone is talking about — and with good reason. And if you’re on the hunt for a last-minute gift, there’s a good chance this one will go over well with kids, teens, and adults.

Get The Hunger Games boxed set for just $31, down from $54.

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Review: Mockingjay

**Spoiler Alert: If you have only read my Hunger Games review and Catching Fire review and not the actual book, you might not want to read the following review. Spoilers from previous books are included.

Recap: In the third and final book of The Hunger Games series, we’re still trying to make sense of what happened in book two, Catching Fire. And it seems, so is the main character, Katniss. We quickly learn District 12 has been destroyed, and its remaining inhabitants now live in District 13. Destruction, betrayal, and confusion fill Katniss’s mind as she tries to come up with a plan to get Peeta back from the Capitol — where he’s being held captive — and kill President Snow.

But as I mentioned in my review of Catching Fire, the second book was really just a connector to Mockingjay, which focuses on the rebellion against the Capitol lead by Katniss. Mockingjay holds up the promise of letting a rebel war play out the way it should. The  guys work on new equipment, while the soldiers train. But everything gets turned around when Peeta and Katniss are reunited. The Capitol has tortured, abused, and brainwashed Peeta with tracker jacker fluid, turning him against Katniss.

Now an untrained Katniss, an unstable Peeta, and a willful Gale must work together — along with their fellow soldiers — to take on the Capitol. But their unfamiliarity with the layout of the land, their well-known faces, and the strength of President Snow work against them. Not to mention, Snow isn’t their only enemy.

Analysis: In Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins does a great job of demonstrating the themes of the entire series — trust and loyalty. Here, Katniss grapples with who she can trust. And for the first time, so does Peeta.  With the dynamic between Katniss and Peeta so stunningly different from how it’s been in the past, the reader understands what a twisted world these kids live in. Everyone is questionable, even the closest of friends.

Mockingjay also takes the dark concepts of the previous books to another level. For instance, death and mourning plays a big part in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, when Rue and Cinna die. But the importance of some of the losses in Mockingjay go deeper. And the way Katniss deals with it is a little crazy, but also very real.

And the action — well, it’s a war. A purple haze that shoots blood from everyone’s orafaces, a ground that opens up, parachutes that explode — it’s absurd and it’s violent. Mockingjay makes The Hunger Games looks like child’s play. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale have been thrust into a world where they have to grow up fast — and that they do.

The only issues I had were with the ending. A number of characters’ plotlines were not tied up. Not to mention, the epilogue was unnecessary and very Harry Potter-esque. Nonetheless, it was nice to peak into the future.

MVP: Peeta Melark. Yes, Peeta’s kind of a bastard for much of Mockingjay. But he’s also been brainwashed and doesn’t know any better. Plus, it’s amazing to see this violent, angry side of him, when we’re so used to seeing him as a calm, tender kid. He wasn’t my favorite character in this book, but he was the most interesting.

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