Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Then and Now: My Feelings on the Hunger Games

Then and Now is a monthly feature on Christina Reads YA in which I pick a topic or a book and discuss how my feelings for/thoughts on that have changed for whatever reason. Many thanks to the readers who helped me think of this feature!

Ah, The Hunger Games. So much to discuss. Watch out for spoilers if you haven't read the books!
gifs from: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/hunger%20games%20gif
First time I was made aware of THG? My friend and I were in Borders and she took THG from its shelf. She didn't read much before she skipped to the end of the first chapter and shouted, "AHA! I knew it! I KNEW SHE WOULD VOLUNTEER FOR HER SISTER!" And then promptly returned the book to its shelf. I wish that hadn't been my only image of the trilogy, 'cause if I remember correctly, Suzanne Collins was supposed to visit that Borders to sign and read from Catching Fire around then. Missed opportunity, eh?

Eventually I got curious again. I read the trilogy in one day during sophomore year. I saw one of my classmates pass Mockingjay to her friend during our organic chemistry class, and I'd already heard praise of the trilogy from others. Finally decided I would order the 3 hardcover pack and catch up with everyone else.

Overall Feelings:

Then: Why does everyone like this book so much? Meh. Meh. Meh.

Now: Watching the movie? Yeah, that so made me like the first book better. I LOVE the Rue scene. You know which scene I mean. Which is why I hated it when the movie version was different. I also realized, after reading some discussions and reviews online, how visceral the writing is. Seriously, I'm not sure why it never occurred me the first time I read THG, but it's really easy to picture what exactly is going on, which is hard to make happen in action scenes. However, I also agree with some of the criticisms of the book, so it's not one of my favorites. Now I just appreciate it and the messages it raises by, as John Green writes, not calling attention to its words.

Love Triangle:

Then: This girl's perspective is so distant. How is she in love? Okay, she's pragmatic, so in that case, how can she afford to love anyone? Why doesn't Peeta remind her of all the deaths from the arenas and the war in general? You could have the most brilliant, optimistic perspective and still that would not erase the memories. I don't understand why she chose either guy.

Now: I'm still undecided. I still think that Katniss was the perfect heroine (in terms of her personality) to have a love triangle and walk away from the drama. And I still think that both Peeta and Gale would have negative associations with them, so the little section about the flower in spring vs. the fire seems irrelevant. BUT. Okay, so I've seen the movie. I like romance. And that means I'm a total Gale fan. Passion for the win!

Dystopian Society:

Then: Hadn't read much dystopia before - everyone talks of 1984 and Brave New World, but I still haven't read those - so I sort of shrugged off those elements. The book was less about the symbolism and messages and screwed up attitude of the world than it was about excitement and violence and oh bleeeeeeeep, did that really happen?

Now: It has the classic dystopian elements, and as I've expressed before, I think that a lot of books don't reach the same level it did while still conveying a message. That Big Brother feel is creepy as hell, and sometimes I wonder how far off the mark it is today.

Have your feelings about The Hunger Games changed at all? In what way? What do/did you think of the message/dystopian society/world-building? Or the love triangle and overall feel of the book(s)?


  1. Great post! Wow... it's been sooo long since I read this series. I was lucky to become interested in in right when the 3rd book was released so I was able to glom through it all. Loved it then, love it now. But I do seriously need to do a reread before movie 2 comes out. There were parts in the first movie that I knew they'd changed but the particulars escaped me.

  2. Me too! I need to reread before movie 2 for sure. I don't remember a lot of the details, and I want to really get into the Quarter Quell.

  3. Quite honestly, I'm not a fan of any of 2-part movies... even with Harry Potter. Because, then, I feel like it just becomes sensationalism rather than a matter of "we won't fit all of this into the movie!" I mean, why else change SO much about the books? HP7 ruined for me. Ruined. And Mockingjay... I really don't know.

  4. I'm with you...I'm not really a fan of the 2-part movies. It does become sensationalism....and it seems like it is more about making more money than having a quality film. Twilight, I didn't see the point. Both Dawn parts were good but it could have been one movie. Mockingjay, I don't see the point. I can't see how it's going to happen. Harry Potter...I was surprised when I first heard but the movies didn't bother me too much. The final battle bugged me...a lot. (But that is a whole other discussion!)

  5. What a great feature! I always find myself thinking back on books I've read and finding them worse or better than when I first read or reviewed. The Hunger Games has gone both ways for me. I'm more annoyed at the final pairing than I was before, because I think the last chapter of the series was utter nonsense and made Katniss from a strong heroine into someone weak--and also used a silly device to get Gale out of the way. But as a whole, I've found myself really appreciating the series conceptually.

  6. Thank you! YESSSS nonsense last chapter. (Last chapter or epilogue?) AND YESSSS, just getting Gale out of the way. And YESSSS the conceptual value of the series. I find myself in awe whenever I read new analysis on the concepts introduced in the series. Kind of like Harry Potter, except not as much.

    That wasn't a very coherent comment. Oops. :)

  7. The final battle completely bugged me. I would be down to have a discussion about it ;).

    The sad thing is, even if I'm not a fan of the 2 part movies, and it does become sensationalism/another way of making more money, I will probably still end up watching both parts for Mockingjay. Will you?

  8. I'm the same...I will end up seeing both movies. I think is inevitable.

    The final battle...UGH! Totally reuined in my opinion. I thought the book scene was very powerful. How everyone heard what was happening, how they saw him finished. So vivid. I don't even understand why they did what they did...I know they wanted something exciting for the viewers but I think the true fans would have appreciated the true-to-book scene better. =(

    Another thing that kind of bugged me was that they also had Voldemort feeling/knowing when a horcrux was destroyed. But he had no idea in the books because his soul was so fractured. Right?

  9. My feelings haven't changed but I've only read the series once. I'm definitely rereading before Catching Fire comes out. I always wanted Katniss to choose Peeta so that is what saved Mockingjay for me. I was very emotionally caught up in this series. SPOILER When her sister dies, it made me feel that everything Katniss went through was meaningless as she still lost the person she was willing to go to THG and die for. That death blind sided me and I wasn't happy. Since I'm not a fan of MJ, I'm not thrilled it will be two movies. For Hollywood, it's about the money I know but I love Twilight and HP so I was happy to see it drawn out as long as possible. I was sad when they both ended.

  10. That whole attack on Hogwarts in the last book was fantastic. I loved the scenes with Peeves and I could see Prof. McGonagall leading the charge of desks down the hall. So much was so clear in the book. I wish it was the same in the movie. Even the scene between Molly and Bellatrix was a let down in the movie. And those characters were casted perfectly but that scene was so much more in the book. I guess I was just expecting too much!

    I agree that there is always something that bugs me with the adaptations. They always leave out something that I really liked in the book or they add something that shouldn't be there. Or it just isn't played out the same way as it did in my mind while I was reading it.

    I've been racking my brain for an example of an adaptation that I have liked. The first two or three Harry Potter movies weren't bad adaptations. Really brought the world to life. Hunger Games wasn't too bad. There was a lot of inner dialogue we didn't get but I thought it was done pretty well. Water for Elephants wasn't a bad adaptation either. I enjoyed both the book and the movie. What about you? What adaptations have you liked?

  11. No!! As fans, we have the right to expect more. There are a lot of little details they left out in favor of strange sensationalism, like Harry dragging Voldemort down the castle to the rubbish (wtf?).

    The first two were very close book to movie adaptations! I definitely enjoyed them. Then I think they started to get a bit wonky, especially in how they portrayed certain things. Hunger Games... was so/so. I actually wrote a post on that because I was disappointed with how they had changed two of my favorite scenes. I haven't seen or read Water for Elephants.... As for adaptations in general, I find that whenever I see the movie first, then read the book, I'm happier. Like the Pride and Prejudice adaptation in 2006, with Keira Knightely. Really enjoyed that one. Does that work for you?

  12. I KNOW!!! The dragging to the rubbish was ridiculous. And the struggle with the final showdown between the wands. I don't remember it being that intense. They spouted their spells, the wand flew, Harry caught it. I even went back and reread that scene (which I didn't mind at all. I love that part!) and it makes no sense what they did in the movie. UGH! LOL

    Which parts did you think got wonky? I'm curious.

    I haven't seen Pride and Prejudice. I've read the book many times.

    sometimes I do enjoy reading the book after the movie. Then I'm not as disappointed with what they screwed up!

  13. lol right?!?! The wand does fly but only when they both cast their spells and that's after Harry's said everything he needs to. They definitely don't fall from the castle and start attacking each other mid-flight. Voldemort does not bind Harry with some black ties or grab his chin. -_-

    Well, the Rue and berry scenes were changed, which bothered me because honestly I thought those were the most important scenes in the entire book... And the gender roles and the romance, too, were changed.

    Yes!! I think that's the mechanics of how it works. Though sometimes that fails... Like when you've read this great detail and are like, why wasn't this included?!

  14. The berry scenes were important. I agree. And I can see the other changes as bothersome. (Not as bothersome as HP but I can see it! LOL) The romance scenes were different.

    And, yes, I do sometimes have that reaction..."Why didn't they include that???" when I read the book after the movie. And, let's be honest, when I read the book before the movie. ;)

  15. no adaptation can be as bothersome as those for HP ;).
    lol!!! Yeah... you're right. I too have the same reaction either way!

  16. Yeah.. it's just strange to return to Peeta when he wasn't even sure of what had happened between them and needed reminders.

  17. THG was the first YA series I've read and so I was completely fascinated. Now that I've read a few dystopias, I still think it has something different to offer. Other dystopias usually focus on the plot, but this one has a bigger message hidden behind it. I can't wait for the next movie, though.

  18. Me too! And yes, I agree. Few dystopians seem to include the underlying message, at least to the same extent that THG does. It too has a big concept like the rest, but it manages to sneak in themes and messages that you'll question and think about later.

  19. I have an odd relationship with the movies. On one hand, I love them. The behind the scenes look at the game handlers was fantastic. I think the casting was also fantastic. I loved seeing some of the book come to life. On the other hand, I was angry about how they brought the mockingjay pin into play, and the whole Rue scene ticked me off. Badly! And the thing about the books is that every single emotion was....visceral, like you said. A lot of it was in Katniss head, and that just doesn't come across in the movie. All in all, though, not a bad adaptation!

  20. Yessss. Me too. A lot of what you mentioned is how I feel about the movies. I can't remember what they did to the mockingjay pin... but I agree with you on almost everything! I actually liked what they did with most of Katniss' narration - they found creative ways to reveal a lot of her information. And yeah! It wasn't a horrible adaptation :)

  21. The Mayors daughter from Katniss district ( Her name started with an A) gave her the pin before she left for the games. And the other thing I remember that bothered me was the hounds at the end. They weren't like they were described in the book, and that was a bit disappointing. Still, a great book to movie! Looking forward to Catching Fire

  22. I read the books only after I saw the movie but I liked them, although Mockingjay was a disappointment. I agree about the romance, I hoped she would walk away from both guys and find love in the future

  23. YES, the book scene was so powerful! And of course, with the sun rising, and the Great Hall, everyone watching.... It really was done, I think, to bring in others with all the action excitement, but adapting that scene with the book more in mind would have been better.

    YES. He did not know when it was destroyed and should not have known, but again they went for the dramatic :(.

    It seems inevitable that book-to-movie adaptations always do something wrong/upset me. Are there any you've liked?

  24. Definitely rereading before the movie!
    And will they ever end? I wonder, sometimes, when I think of the legacy Harry Potter and Twilight have left behind. Will they ever not be talked about? How long would that potentially take?
    And yeah.... that was a huge plot twist that I didn't see coming either. At least it will be in the second movie, so you could theoretically avoid that part?

  25. I've read the series twice. On my second reading, I really didn't like Mockingjay. It just didn't fit. And I can't believe they are making that into 2 movies a la Harry Potter and Twilight. I don't think there is enough stuff to make 2 movies from that book.


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