Coming Soon to Theaters: The Hunger Games

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Location: The Lodge @ Sonoma in Sonoma, Calif. for the Books & Such Agents’ Planning Summit

I’d like to spend this week talking about books that soon will be movies. We can discuss what we think has given them the appeal they needed to make it to film. I’ll share my opinion, and I hope to hear yours. I’m going to try to avoid putting any major spoilers in the posts, but if you are picky about reading the book before finding out anything about the storyline, please read the book and come back to the blog posts. :)

Hopefully this conversation will help you to pick popular, relevant topics for your writing.

First up: The Hunger Games

I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins over Christmas break, just in time to get excited about the upcoming film release.

If you would like to see more information about the film or watch the trailer, click this link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/

I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked it quite a bit–the writing is good and the story moves quickly with lots of action and a bit of romance–but I had a problem with the overall premise. A country that would punish its citizens by making them send some of their children to fight to the death each year while the entire country watches it on TV is hard to swallow. At the same time, I understand that Collins has written a book that reflects on our society today and serves as a warning for what the future could look like because of our human nature and the hate we can carry toward others. The hunger games are a futuristic Roman Colosseum. I’d say that many dystopian books have the same purpose–to reflect on our society in a creative way.

I personally believe this book was a good candidate for a movie because:

1) The story’s premise is complex enough to appeal to readers of all ages, not just teens.

2) The story has strong male and female characters.

3) The world the story is set in is unique without being so far out that the reader can’t relate to it. It’s based on our world with differences that are well-described.

What elements make The Hunger Games a good candidate for being made into a film? What has made the book so popular with readers? How might your answers to these two questions help you as think about your writing?

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13 Comments

  • Thanks, Rachel. Good food for thought. When I read this book a few years ago I just knew they were going to make it into a movie. Not only was everyone talking about it (teens and grown ups alike) but it was one of the most compelling “have to keep reading it” books I’d read in ages, although I’m not usually drawn to things so dark. I suppose it feeds into society’s current love of reality shows. Plus, for all its secular grimness, the main character displays the universally-admirable trait: noble self-sacrifice (in taking her little sister’s place in the arena).

  • I definitely think the series was a hit due to the MC, Katniss. She was relatable, loyal and modest about her talents. HUMILITY was a key aspect to her character. It drew you in and made you want to follow her.

    That said, I was very disappointed with the “quick-fix” type wrap-up in the last book, Mockingjay. It seemed to try to throw all the loose ends in one big bag and then blast the bag open in the last three chapters.

    I think the key to any good book series is the MC–he/she has to be well-thought out. Suzanne C. also did a great job world-building, so we could literally SEE the districts and get that cold, hard feel of life there.

    Looking forward to the movie, for sure.

  • Rachel, I have to be honest…I haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, but I find the premise of this book deeply disturbing. (You’re absolutely right, though…it does speak volumes about society’s fascination with depravity and quest for sensationalism. Case in point: the myriad reality shows on television. Although not as extreme as what T.H.G. deals with, some of the content is pretty raw.)

    That being said, I think as writers we are always looking at the “what if?” scenario. Books like The Hunger Games may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do cause us to think beyond our comfort zones.

    Great points–and you’ve definitely made me think!

  • Amanda Dykes says:

    I’ve not read the book yet, but in a recent conversation I had with some teens about characters they could relate to, one of them brought up Katniss. She said she could relate to Katniss’s independence, and that resounded with several others in the room as well.

    I think your second reason (strong male and female characters) led to this relatability, which has great appeal in the movie world as well.

    Sounds like a fun and interesting topic for the blog this week; looking forward to it!

    Enjoy Sonoma. We were just there a few weeks back (St. Helena area for dinner one night after Marine World in Vallejo– Pizzeria @ Tra Vigne was delicious!)- so lovely; it had just rained and the low clouds were nestled in the foothills for miles and miles… it was breathtaking.

  • Looking forward to these posts this week, Rachel!

    I think all the action in the book will make it a good edge-of-your-seat movie. (The trailer looks great!)

    While reading THE HUNGER GAMES, I could easily sympathize with Katniss and relate to her motivation of protecting her younger sister. My own character’s motivations have been weak in the past. This book made me think more deeply about what makes a good character.

  • Mary Curry says:

    I read your post early this morning, Rachel, and I’ve been pondering.
    I found The Hunger Games to be compelling. In fact, when I first read it, I’d been in one of those reading pits where nothing satisfied me and I was setting aside book after book unfinished. HG not only held my interest, I devoured it.
    Yes the topic made me uncomfortable, but the characters were so compelling that you couldn’t help but be drawn in.
    If you think about it, the biggest fear of HG fans upon learning of the movie, was whether the casting would destroy it. From the trailers I’ve seen, casting nailed it. I can’t wait to see the movie, even though I’m sure I’ll spend a good portion of it covering my eyes. :)

  • Diana Dart says:

    Loved the Hunger Games series, partially because of the strong characters (although Katniss seriously needed to get a clue at times), and partially because the premise made me uncomfortable. I like stories that challenge me and cause me to think, observe and reflect. HG did that on so many levels.

    Why will it make a good movie? Fast paced story, characters revealed through action and an atmosphere that will translate so well on screen. The storyline is rich in a literary sense, but it has so much potential in a visual sense as well – all the makings for a great film.

  • I loved The Hunger Games, even though I didn’t expect to, as dystopian isn’t really my thing. This series is not for the faint-of-heart, though, that’s for sure. When the story was over, I was definitely ready to escape Katniss’ brutal reality.

    I think the strong characters and fast pace will translate well into film, as already noted. I worry, however, that the violence will be even more difficult to bear in a visual medium such as film. Also, I wonder if the intimate feeling generated by the first-person, present-tense writing will translate well onto the big screen–or translate at all. I can’t wait to find out! It was one of my favorite reads of 2011.

  • My daughter (10) and I are reading this book together. Her teacher bought copies for all her kids to encourage them to read it in anticipation for the movie. I have to admit, I was on the fence because I hadn’t read it yet. I ended up agreeing with the condition that she and I would be reading much of it together.

    While I agree that the characters are very strong and well-drawn, my concern about dystopian fiction and much of the fiction that is out there for younger people today is that it seeks to highlight the negative aspects of our society. Perhaps part of that is necessary to create conflict, but it’s too much for me. I tend not to buy as many books at the school book fairs these days because I’m tired of all the doom and gloom.

    My daughter is loving the book. I think it’s okay, but the premise is disturbing. I’m not sure I would want her to see the movie.

  • Michelle Higdon says:

    I think this book is one of the few out there that are really worth reading and for more reasons then just the compelling characters and plot. The book is extremely well-written (I am constantly amazed at writers who successfully do first-person, present tense) and the characters, from Katniss to Rue to the Avox, are wonderfully thought out from Katniss’ point of view. I particularly enjoyed how many of the characters did not have names but were rather “The boy from District 4″ or “Foxface.” It really put one into Katniss’ head.

    I think it will make a splendid movie and will accomplish the goal of making people think. I don’t think that the books or the movie focus too much on negative aspects of society, though I will admit they do some. Instead, they show that which is heroic, how sometimes all it takes is one person who is willing to stand up and be the change, to bring out the change. As you come to the second and third books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the story of self-sacrifice and doing what is right even when it means you might not survive are the themes which are woven throughout the stories of those who die for Katniss and the survival of their cause.

    Those are my two cents, but I might be biased as I have been in love with these books and the movie and following every scrap of movie information from casting to wardrobe to score from the get-go!

    Thanks for doing these blog posts, I’m really enjoying them!

  • I appreciate the author’s thoughtful look at war. The pain and price of both victory and defeat. That gave the hunger games a different kind of depth from other popular YA. I think it will make a good movie because it is fast paced and action packed with great characters and at its heart the premise is simple and strong.

  • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

    Such interesting comments! Thanks!

    I agree about the end of Mockingjay, Heather. I actually think the movie might be better than the book.

  • I certainly hope so! I just thought it was way too convenient that Gale kind of evaporated off the scene! Although I suppose even Stephenie Meyer kind of resorted to that in Breaking Dawn. Come to think of it, maybe all love triangles end that way! One guy/girl is OUT in the end! Hee.

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