The Hunger Games

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Because I had to.

The Hunger Games (as if you haven’t heard of it), Suzanne Collins’ post-apocalyptic triumph, was turned into a movie released this past Friday. If you don’t know the plot, go out and buy it immediately. (Unless you have a problem with moderately graphic teen violence, in which case you should get over that so you can go out and buy it.)

What? Literary merit? A young adult novel turned blockbuster? What about that love triangle I saw on the cover of J-14?

If it’s that popular, there’s gotta be something. Here that something has a braid, a bow, and serious people issues. Katniss Everdeen is one of the strongest YA protagonists I’ve ever encountered.

Her goals aren’t particularly noble, there’s no forced idealism. All she wants is to survive the book. She isn’t interested in overturning the system, she just wants to get back home (malnourished and washed out as it may be). Which is, of course, what we all want. Whether the arena is high school, unemployment, a fight to the death for the nation’s entertainment, whatever, we just want to make it out. The moral, uh, shifts she goes through become understandable, even relatable.

I maintain that the strength of the character in the novel lies in our forced first person perspective- which meant that I had some problems with the film. It was amazing, don’t get me wrong. I thought they did a wonderful job bringing the characters and world to life. But it was jarring to find myself in the role of the victimizer (a Capitol citizen watching the games) rather than the victim (Katniss). It provided a disturbing new perspective, and I’m not sure it’s one I enjoyed. Appreciated, yes, liked, well… The other strength of the book lay in its shock value. I’m sure it was surprising and entertaining for new viewers, but some of us devotees found that it all fell a bit short.

No one really likes book to film adaptations. That said, this is as good as it gets.

See what my friend John says about the film here.

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