So, in case you have lived in a some sort of cave without access to Internet, bookstores or any sort of place with advertisements/social media etc. and you have NEVER heard about The Hunger Games before, I will provide a short synopsis before moving to my thoughts about the book.
Where Northern America once was is now a place called Panem. Panem is divided into 12 districts, each with some sorts of purpose and the districts are ruled by Capitol, a city with skyscrapers and people with weird outfits and money. Since the revolution was put down years ago, a new law was constituted: every year, two children between the ages of 12 and 18, one girl and one boy, will be selected to represent their district in a competition called Hunger Games. The rules are the following: the game goes on until there is only one competitor alive.
Katniss Everdeen, our heroine, lives at District 12, the coal mining district. Since her father died in a mining accident, she has been taking care of her mother and her little sister Prim. When on the day of the "reaping" Prim is announced as the female representative for District 12, Katniss volunteers and takes her place on the Hunger Games along Peeta Mellark, the male representative for the district.
So starts the journey of Katniss and Peeta to the Hunger Games. Can they survive what is ahead of them? Is it wise to form a friendship knowing that at least one of them has to die? How will their decisions during the games affect the people they left behind, the people at District 12?
I read The Hunger Games the first time right after it was published. I remember loving it, but since it was so many years ago, and since I still have not read the other two books in the trilogy (well, I probably have at least started to read then when this review goes up), I decided to give this one a new go before going to the next books. And I am happy I did, because I enjoyed it even more than during the first time I read it.
Katniss is such an amazing protagonist. She is strong and intelligent, but also vulnerable and from time to time unsure of herself and of her actions. This makes her more realistic. What is also really like about her is the fact that she is unsure about her feelings for both Peeta and Gale. She is not boy crazy and rather focuses on the task of winning the games. There definitely is chemistry between her and Peeta, but she is not sure how to deal with it, and she does not even want to deal with it when there are more important things to focus on. This really makes me like her because of the so many female protagonists who just go crazy when a hot guy looks at them. I really enjoyed the flashbacks/dreams that told more about Katniss's past with both Peeta and Gale, giving more depth to the relationships.
And Peeta, oh Peeta... I did not remember that he was so amazing. He is funny, charming and so in love with Katniss that at points I just felt bad for him because Katniss did not feel the same. I cannot wait to see what happens next with Peeta and Katniss.
The dystopian world Collins creates is terrifying. I think what makes it the scariest is the fact that it is also, to an extent, extremely realistic. Already now some people have huge amounts of power and control, and as time proceeds, their influence will most probably increase even more. The way Collins builds the world around the characters as well as describes the events that take place is so well done - throughout the novel you feel like you are there with Katniss, seeing and feeling the same things Katniss does.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games and I cannot wait to read the two other books. I already took Catching Fire out of Iina's bookshelf... SO EXCITED!
Once again, I get to say this: "This is one of those films I have been meaning to watch since it come out and I cannot believe I only now got around to watching it". I feel like that is pretty much my mantra these days when it comes to these new "blockbuster" type of films.
Now that I read the book again and it was in my fresh memory, I finally decided to give this one a go. I was pretty skeptic about it - other recent YA film adaptations I have seen (Beautiful Creatures, Twilight films) have been horrible, so I was not so sure this one would impress me either. But now that I have seen it, I have to say I was positively surprised. Of course it is not as good as the books, but still it managed to be entertaining and I think well embodied the most important relationships and events of the novel.
What I liked most about the film was the world building and the visuals. The scenes from District 12 were a lot more haunting than I imagined the district to look while reading the novel - the soundtrack, the very toned down colors and the way the film was cut added to this effect, making the environment very hostile and militaristic - for some reason I almost got vibes of like a concentration camp type of setting, with the similar outfits, the "branding" of the youth (taking the blood) and the very propagandist video clip shown to the people before the reaping. The distinction between The District and Capitol was also well established through the glamour, but also through the technology available at Capitol. The scenes from the game center were among my favorite - it was great to see also this side to the story even though it is not given to the reader in the book.
Jennifer Lawrence makes a great Katniss. She is gorgeous, there is no denying that, but I think she was still able to look a bit "savage" or dirty or however you want to say it. She is able to tone down her gorgeousness and look like someone who does not take a bath every day, who hunts and occasionally eats raw meat, someone who cares more about her well being than her looks. I really do no have anything negative to say about Jennifer Lawrence and I am happy that she was cast as Katniss because even though she might not perfectly fit the description of Katniss from the novel, it is nice to have someone likable to play such a likable character.
Liam Hemsworth is okay as Gale even though he is not at all like I imagined Gale to look like. If I was asked who I think looks like Gale then, I don't think I could even answer. And that is mostly due to the fact that I am so in love with Peeta that I do not really give that much attention to Gale. I know some people do not like him at all as Peeta (I think Iina has also said that she is not really happy with the casting) but I think Josh Hutcherson is pretty much perfect, despite the fact that he is shorter than Jennifer Lawrence and does not perfectly fit the description of Peeta given in the novel (the height thing seems like a big issue for some people). I find Peeta to me more adorable than hot, more like the guy-next-door, the guy who secretly has a crush on you, than some sexy hunk everyone drools over. That is how I see Gale. Just out of interest, I did some research on this and found several lists which listed people that could have been better as Peeta. I found the following names of several lists: Freddie Stroma (he was in Harry Potter), Kellan Lutz (Emmett from Twilight Saga), Zac Efron, Hunter Parrish (I think he was in Weeds) and Alex Pettyfer. Okay, so let me break this down:
- Cannot really say much about Freddie Stroma - I have seen him in Harry Potter and then in this modern Cinderella remake which also had Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars. He is hot for sure, but I cannot really imagine him as Peeta.
- Kellan Lutz - Thank the Gods he was not cast as Peeta. His head is like a square and he is way too muscular in my opinion to play Peeta. He is like Conan the Barbarian or something - Peeta is strong but he still needs to be somewhat vulnerable and in need to help.
- Zac Efron - I do like Zac, but naahh...
- Hunter Parrish - Cannot say anything about him
- Alex Pettyfer - Looks too snobbish
So, I don't know was it the fact that I kept imagining Josh Hutcherson while re-reading the book or what, but I think he is perfect. Just perfect. (And I feel somewhat weird lusting over him because he is younger than me).
Other things I really liked about the movie: Stanley Tucci (I really have a soft spot for this man. He is perfect in Easy A), Woody Harrelson (I think he was perfect Haymitch - a drunk, but manages to be charming if needed) and Lenny Kravitz (for real, I cannot believe I am saying this, but he was, after Hutcherson and Lawrence, my favorite from this film. AND A PERFECT CINNA).
So, to summarize: I really liked the film and I am looking forward to seeing the next one. I still have not watched the trailer for it, and I won't before I have read Catching Fire.