“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”
Suzanne Collins’ young adult trilogy The Hunger Games has to be one of the most popular series of novels at the minute. Set in the dystopian and post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, the novels follow lead heroine Katniss Everdeen, a young girl living in the poorest of 12 districts who, volunteering to save her younger sister, is forced to compete in The Hunger Games. Set up by the government in order to maintain peace, the annual televised games see 24 young representatives fight to the death in a specially designed arena, until only one remains.
Once again directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, the film adaptation is set to be released on 20th November.
The following post is a review of the book only, looking at how it is going to be adapted. You can read my review of the first part of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
Catching Fire left us on a massive a cliff-hanger, with the echoing words that District 12 has been destroyed. That leaves only one way for the novels to continue, the only way a dystopian story should conclude, with a rebellion against the tyrannical Capitol. Katniss must now become the iconic Mockingjay, a symbol of hope and courage in the revolution, to unify the districts of Panem, fight to save those she loves, and attempt to shatter the games forever.
Moving on from the huge twist that Catching Fire left us with, the story itself didn’t really have anywhere else to go, but the best characteristics of a dystopia are always around the themes of standing up for yourself, fighting against wrong, and making a difference, and it’s what we’ve been waiting for Katniss to do. Up until the final few chapters, this is done excellently. Emotions of fear and desperation in a world nobody wants to live in are strong, and Katniss becomes the heroine she was born to be; a character young girls can look up to. But the revolution itself seems somewhat rushed after lengthy scenes of District 13’s preparations.
The love triangle between Gale and Peeta remains a heavy subject, though there are a few brilliant hurdles thrown into the plot to confuse things even more, but it’s a romance that is hard to care about in the end, unfortunately. Of course, with a huge, guns-blazing battle to end it all, there are more than a few deaths in this novel, something the trilogy hasn’t been shy of with its bleak premise, and something which has often moved readers and viewers previously, with characters such as Rue, especially. The deaths in this novel don’t nearly have the same impact, though, with most of them happening in a hurried moment, leaving them to fall insignificant against the backdrop of everything else, which is a huge shame. But relationships will be tested here and conclusions will be met, which is something to look forward to.
It’s hard to guess where Part 1 will end and Part 2 will begin, but my guess is around the end of Section 2 in the novel, allowing Part 2 of the film to focus solely on the war against the Capitol. This would be a decent place to round things up, ending with Katniss’ revolutionary efforts to both warn the Capitol of what they’re up against and to motivate those left in the remaining districts, and allowing Part 2 to effectively jump from strategy and practise to its epic finale.
With Collins commenting that her inspiration for the trilogy came from the classical Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, will Katniss be able to kill the Minotaur and ultimately lead her companions out of the monster’s Labyrinth? You’ll have to get reading to find out.
With the first film directed by Gary Ross, the dystopian world of Panem was introduced perfectly. The second film, however, and all future adaptations, are set to be directed under the helm of Francis Lawrence, director of the apocalyptic drama I Am Legend. Catching Fire turned out to be more of a success than the original film so this next instalment is certainly heading in the right direction. There have been a number of different writers working on the franchise, though, so this could make some difference around what parts of the story get changes and what gets missed out. Lawrence has a proven record of adapted novels well, though, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
All of the original cast will be reprising their roles, including Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Sam Claflin as Finnick, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen, and Paula Malcomson as Mrs Everdeen.
Of course, the biggest question on everybody’s lips is what will happen to the legendary Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character, Plutarch Heavensbee? Fortunately, the actor completed filming his scenes for Part 1 prior to his death, so he will be reprising his role for this first instalment at least, although his presence will be missed all the same.
The biggest addition to the cast is the beautiful Julianne Moore, who will be playing Katniss’ biggest obstacle, even if they are on the same side, President Coin. Known for her roles in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, The Big Lebowski, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and The Hours, Moore is a fantastic actress and she certainly has the boldness and strength in character that Coin needs.
As for other new additions, Game of Thrones’ star Gwendoline Christie will play Commander Lyme, Broadway singer and actress Patina Miller will play Commander Paylor, our second Game of Thrones’ star Natalie Dormer will play Cressida, Prison Break’s Robert Knepper will play Antonius, True Blood’s Michelle Forbes will play Lieutenant Jackson, Mighty Ducks star Elden Henson will play Pollux, House of Cards’ Mahershala Ali will play Boggs, Diana Ross’ real-life son Evan Ross will play Messalla, and The Help’s Wes Chatham will play Castor.