It felt like I was the only person left in the world who had not read the trilogy, but the movie looked great so I made certain to read The Hunger Games in advance of the movie, because that’s how big of a nerd I am. I finished the first book at 2 am, the same day as borrowing it from a friend. We were both on the world’s longest wait list at the library for the next two, so I went out and bought the boxed set for us to share. I’m a grown up, I can impulse purchase a complete set of YA novels if I like, yes indeed.
It is hard to add anything new to the discussion of the novel, but I will throw out a few ideas anyways, largely related to how the movie is tied to the book. I recall that when the film was first announced, there were many concerns about the casting, particularly with the three leads. Having not read the books and not being overly familiar with the actors, I did not pay an enormous amount of attention to the discussion, but I now wonder how my perception of the characters as I was reading was coloured by knowing which actors would play them. Having seen the movie, I do not have any complaints about the casting, but was kind of disappointed by the depiction of the Capitol, strangely. For the most part, it seemed like a lot of concrete and just not shiny enough, but perhaps that is something that will seem a little more glamourous in the sequels. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, as did a friend I took who has not read the books, not being a fan of YA books on principle.
Like most people, I really loved the character of Katniss. I of course admire her selflessness and her courage, but also her focus. Once selected as a tribute, she struggled and fought and strategized. She is often compared to Bella from the Twilight novels, most notably in how Bella is nothing without her boyfriend (admission: I am generalizing as I have little familiarity with the series) and how Katniss does her best to rid herself of any romantic complications, but I think the more interesting distinction is how Bella is both so self absorbed and has such little self regard that she deliberately and repeatedly puts herself in danger, but also seems to sit back and wait for people to act around and for her. In contrast, Katniss carefully considers her actions and their repercussions on the survival of both herself but those she is responsible for. While not perfect by any stretch, Katniss is smart and self-reliant, and is able to see herself as part of a whole.
The story itself is also very exciting, with a strong narrative that moves quickly. Collins does excellent work in constructing an interesting story with some fairly heavy themes in the background, including the strangely unreal nature of reality television, as well as showing how fear is used in a totalitarian political system. Those ideas are not presented in a heavy handed manner, but woven into the plot as both background and as a driver of events. As mentioned above, I was very eager to continue reading the series, in much the same way as I felt about Harry Potter and The Sandman graphic novels, which is an excellent recommendation in itself.