I’m often shocked at the amount of people that don’t take the time to sit down and get lost in a good book. Understandably many people don’t have the time, but trying to make time is essential, especially when you’re missing out on so many great reads. In this week’s Auras Book Club we’re going to focus on The Hunger Games series. Do not be put off by the fact that these are young adult/teen books. Each has a very unique and engaging story to tell and can be enjoyed by both adults and teens alike.
The first book in this epic trilogy was initially publish in October of 2008 and quickly became one of the most popular Young Adult novels of recent times. Almost five years later, the series as a whole is now rivalling the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight with sales topping 40million copies, more sales will surely follow with the expansion of the books into the movie world.
I should make it clear however, unlike Twilight, (but much like Harry Potter) these books are very well written, have deep meaningful plot lines, a well built world and a very head strong female protagonist.
The first movie adaptation of the series was released March of 2012, it broke box-office records and was met with rave reviews. The second in the series ‘Catching Fire’, has almost finished filming and a release date has been set for November 21st 2013. The final book Mockingjay, will be split into two parts and released sometime during 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The books are set in the reconstructed ruins of North-America, which is now known as Panem. The once great nation has been split into twelve districts and one capital city known as ‘The Capitol’.
Each year, the Capitol holds a vicious battle in which two young tributes, one male and female, aged 12-18, from each of the twelve districts are picked to fight to the death in an arena, children from the Capitol are exempt from this terrible fate. The winner is rewarded with more rations from the Capitol for their district, anyone who dares speaks against the games or its creators are punished harshly.
The story is told from the point of view of sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, who resides in district twelve. Katniss’s younger sister Prim is initially chosen to enter the games, but Katniss sacrifices herself and takes Prims place, knowing she’ll have a better chance.
Katniss’ character is incredibly likeable, strong females are very hard to find in teen-fiction as they’re usually too busy chasing around boys. Katniss has no time for that, her main focus is survival and survive she does. Although her personal development does falter slightly in the last book, by the end of it she returns to being the strong leader and fighter she was in the first place.
The plots throughout the books are well paced, with plenty of action, futuristic settings and a love triangle to keep you hooked. Thankfully, the romance does not , distract too much from the main plot. The world building is second to none with themes of poverty, government corruption, advanced technologies and the dangers of reality TV running throughout. Collins creates a unique world that requires the reader to go beyond the pages, to truly understand the context of the writing, without a doubt these are five star reads.
Director Gary Ross had the pleasure of bringing the first book to life for the big screen, for the most part it was very enjoyable, with very minor hiccups.
The reality of book to movie adaptations is that they rarely, if ever, live up to the books. The mind is a very powerful thing, it creates something that no movie house can rebuild, even with a million dollar budget.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence silenced critics who thought she couldn’t take on the role of Katniss, giving a stellar performance from start to finish. Her co-stars equally did an amazing job, with every actor, even the ones holding minor roles, perfectly capturing the essences of each of their characters. Slight changes were made from the book to fit the script, but nothing that took away from the heart of the story.
Many had criticized the violent nature of the books, and wondered if it could be brought to the big-screen in a way that wasn’t to distressing for younger viewers. In my opinion, the violence was very toned down compared to the books and was portrayed as tastefully as it could have been. In no way did it glamorise the violence, an offence that film and other parts of the mainstream media are guilty of. The level of violence is relevant to the story plot, as it cuts to the core of how controlling the Capitol is over the poorer districts.
The only criticism I had was of the visual aspects of the movie. The visual effects/CGI could have been far better in places and the cinematography sometimes lacked its wow factor.
In all the Hunger Games trilogy is a brilliant series that can be enjoyed by both old and younger readers, so make sure you get your hands on some copies before the second in the series hits the big screen later this year.