Honestly, my mind is still racing to catch up. I haven't devoured a book the way I devoured The Hunger Games since right before fall quarter, the exhausting two-day stint wherein I completed both Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Brom's The Child Thief.
There are a few reasons this parallel came as a surprise. I admit that at first I was a little resistant to reading The Hunger Games, though with 20/20 hindsight it was a foolish reaction. On some level I feared a sort of fiction-following rebound. In the gaping hole that the cinematic conclusion Harry Potter left behind in addition with the fact that the last piece of the Twilight saga is nearly at hand, part of me wondered if the fanatical attention given to Hunger Games wasn't just to fill the massive media vacuum both franchises have and will inevitably leave behind. To some extent I think the Hunger Games film is meant to do just that, but more on that front later.
This resistance was tough to shake, especially when I opened the book and was immediately confronted with not only first-person but also present tense narrative. I have close to no conception why, but either of these on their own is enough to shut me down to a fiction book, let alone both in tandem. As I said, I couldn't tell you why, though if asked I suppose I would answer that something in the cadence of it feels all wrong ninety percent of the time. That being said, just how hooked I was, and in such a short amount of time, is a testament to Suzanne Collins' sheer mastery.
The massive hooks throughout the book, and possibly the best aspect of Collins' writing, consist of tremendous amounts of suspense coupled with extremely visual, imaginative prose. It's little wonder the movie companies couldn't wait to sink their claws into it - turning this into a storyboard would be a piece of cake. Paring it down to the length of a single film? Maybe not so much.
***Now we enter the potential Spoiler zone. Read on at your own risk***
On the subject of the trailer, having watched it now that I'm in the know I completely understand all my friends and acquaintances who claim they're already bracing themselves for disappointment. The casting all along the board seems all wrong, Katniss seems hopelessly toned down, and the visual look of what the audience gets from the meager two minutes of trailer seems listing far off-course from the look and feel of the book. Danger! Here there be monsters!
Which of course comes back to the whole 'divorce the book and the movie so that you don't get mad' business.
My other reservations lie in how self-sufficient this first volume is. Not for a second did the conception even enter my mind that the entire games would be over and dealt with in the first novel. The suspense throughout its entirety was insane - the driving plot to stay alive, to kill or be killed, to keep up a farce in order to earn food and water - but what does that leave? The only remnant from the first novel which will inevitably carry over to the subsequent two is the love-triangle which is hardly even a triangle. I congratulate Collins on the portrayal of a girl who is confused and doesn't know what she wants, thinks, or feels - that she "can't explain how things are...because [she] doesn't know [her]self" (373). But is that really enough to go on for two more books, after the whirl, desperation and brutality of the games? It teeters dangerously close to that media vacuum I mentioned before - worse, the teen-romance portion of the vacuum that verges on the inane. I can only hope this'll be incorporated into that hindsight 20/20 bit.
In all I have my doubts, clearly, but I'm determined to reserve judgment. Suzanne Collins has impressed me once, and done a thorough job of it. I am more than willing to believe that she can do it again.
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