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Just a forewarning, spoilers.
The Hunger Games franchise is one that captured the nation with it’s thrilling movies, but did it do the books justice? In fact, does any movie live up to the expectations set by it’s book? I’m here to tell you that it does not. No matter what.
And for those of you saying reading is too much work, first of all, how dare you! Second, stop lying to yourself. And third, know that you get so much more from reading the book. After all, authors aren’t limited to (give or take) 2 hours of plot.
“This character’s not that important, let’s cut them out,” (Movie Producers Everywhere)
First off, let’s talk about Madge Undersee, according to The Hunger Games Wikia. Don’t know who she is? Then you probably only watched The Hunger Games movie and didn’t read the book. Madge initially created the symbol of the mockingjay by giving Katniss Everdeen the golden pin. No, she does not just happen to find it at The Hob and give it to her sister, Prim. A sweet gesture, yes, but also a lie.
Okay, yes she dies and is not the most important character, but Madge plays a bigger role than you think. Just like every other character that got cut out. The redheaded Avox, Lavinia. Bonnie and Twill from District 8.
For instance, Katniss is hunting in the woods when she sees Lavinia getting abducted by the Capitol. Katniss later sees her in the Training Center as her Avox servant. She had her tongue cut out for rebellious deeds and shows how awful the Capitol really is. Lavinia also haunts Katniss about what could have happened if she would have helped her in the woods where she was taken.
I can’t place a name or time to the girl’s face. But I’m certain of it. The dark red hair, the striking features, the porcelain white skin. But even as I utter the words, I feel my insides contracting with anxiety and guilt at the sight of her, and while I can’t pull it up, I know some bad memory is associated with her (The Hunger Games Collins 77).
Katniss is escaping the havoc of being a victor in Catching Fire by venturing into the woods when she comes across Bonnie and Twill, escapees from District 8. They give her the notion that a rebellion is actually happening and Katniss is at the center of it all with her notorious mockingjay symbol.
“It means we’re on your side.” That’s what Bonnie said. I have people on my side? What side? Am I unwittingly the face of the hoped-for rebellion? Has the mockingjay on my pin become a symbol of resistance?” (Catching Fire 150)
All of these characters and more were cut from the movie for the purpose of saving time. In turn, the book has more to offer to readers than the movie would to viewers.
Character development anyone? I mean, seriously.
Just because certain characters are included in the movie does not mean they were portrayed or developed the way they are in the novels. Basically, many characters are downplayed.
Take Cinna for example; Katniss’s stylist who risks everything to make her remarkable. In the book, he plays a larger role in defying the Capitol in ordinary ways. He uses the pin on Katniss to show she is throwing the Capitol’s failed mutation in their face. He unites Katniss and Peeta by suggesting they hold hands on the chariot. (No, it was not Peeta’s idea). In this way Cinna is defying the Capitol by uniting the tributes instead of completely turning them against each other and every other District.
And suddenly I am so afraid for him. What has he done? Something terribly dangerous. An act of rebellion in itself. (Catching Fire 253)
Inner Monologue in the Movies
Another reason the book is better is because it has inner monologue. It’s impossible to do in the movies. It just is. Books are often written in first person narrative and offer insight to the character’s thoughts on anything and everything.
Throughout the actual Hunger Games, Katniss is having a hard time working out her feelings for Peeta. She is struggling to play the camera angle for star-crossed lovers because she is forced into a “relationship” with him in order to keep both of them alive.
But before the Games even start, Katniss has an entirely different view of Peeta Mellark.
He hasn’t accepted his death. He is fighting hard to stay alive. Which also means that kind Peeta Mellark, the boy who gave me the bread, is fighting hard to kill me. (The Hunger Games 60)
Of course, readers find out later that this is never the case because Peeta truly has been in love with Katniss most of his life. She obviously does not know this.
It’s such a joke! Peeta and I going along pretending to be friends! […] Because, in fact, at some point, we’re going to have to knock it off and accept we’re bitter adversaries. (The Hunger Games 92)
In the movie, it would seem like two people are just awkwardly falling in love while in a death trap because one of them admits their true feelings. You would have no idea how conflicted Katniss is feeling over Peeta.
Read a book. Do it, I dare you.
If you’re not convinced yet to read a book instead of just watching the movie, there’s more I have to tell you. You don’t even have to take it from me, take it from Barnes & Noble‘s list of reasons books are better than movies. Maybe they’re biased since it’s a bookstore, but the reasons are still valid.
A book is interpreted differently by everyone who reads it, so it’s individual to the individual. Everyone imagines everything in their own way and seeing it come to life on a screen is less personal. Anyone who has read a book and seen the film adaptation will tell you it was not how they pictured it. Movies are about dramatics and visual effects and appearances which can be distracting to the main story line.
So next time you want to go see a book-turned-movie with some friends, seriously consider reading the book first. It has more content, characters, and you get to picture everything the way you want to. You may hate the movie for ruining the book, but reading it will be worth it. I promise.
After all “no two persons ever read the same book.” (Edmund Wilson)