Thoughts on The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

A friend at work was raving about this trilogy, and I finally decided to give in to the hype. I have to say, I’m happy that I did. In The Hunger Games Collins does a great job painting a scary dystopian portrait of North America after a major disaster. The main characters, especially Katniss, are entirely believable. Since this is part of a trilogy, Collins doesn’t tell you everything – but it leaves you wanting more. It’s like you are in Katniss’ shoes as she starts to focus on more than just the survival of her family and learns more about the Capitol and the rest of Panem.

Okay, so as you probably know, Katniss volunteers to take her young sister’s place in a government sponsored fight to the death. There are two “tributes” from each of Panem’s 12 districts. The other tribute from District 12, Katniss’s district, is Peeta, a boy the same age as Katniss. The two of them are at times thrown together and torn apart as they try to formulate a strategy to win the game. Of course, there can only be one winner, or can there? dun dun dun.

You might have heard about the controversy about the movie’s casting choices. First, there was the issue of specifically looking for a white actress to play Katniss, when her description seemed to contain the possibility that she was Mediterranean or something other than Caucasian. Then, when the casting for other characters, like Rue and Cinna were announced, people were exclaiming that neither of them should be black. In the book, Rue is specifically described as black – with “satiny brown skin.” Cinna isn’t described much beyond having short dark hair (green?) eyes, and a penchant for gold eyeliner.

As I read the book, I knew about these issues, so I was already keeping an eye out for the descriptions. I normally don’t really pay attention to what characters look like. I don’t form a picture of them in my head – I’ve just never been that type of reader. This time, though, knowing who was cast definitely influenced how I saw the book in my mind.

Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone

Jennifer Lawrence, from Winter’s Bone, is playing the Katniss. I know the book described her with dark hair, but I just kept seeing her as Ree Dolly. As for Cinna, I think Lenny Kravitz is a brilliant choice. I can totally see him as a stylist with a mysterious past. I didn’t know that Woody Harrelson had been cast to play Haymitch, Katniss’s mentor. I had just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad before picking up The Hunger Games, and for some reason her description of Odysseus totally clicked for me as Haymitch.  Not that great looking, with short stubby legs, not all that strong or fast, but smart and wily. I do think Harrelson will do a good job playing Haymitch, but he wasn’t what I pictured.

Have you read The Hunger Games? What do you think about the movie casting choices?

Here are my posts on part 2 and part 3

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