One of the… possibly only reason, the last too-many-years, I’ve hardly read any fiction despite the fact that I love reading, is my recently diagnosed sleep apnea. Since getting that on the mend, well, a work-around, I can now read more than a few sentences of something without falling asleep. In fact, this last weekend, I read HUNGER GAMES and its sequel, CATCHING FIRE, in two days. (Well, they’re not terribly long and they’re real page turners… put that’s still an accomplishment for me, going from a book a month to 2 in a weekend. Back in high school I used to read 3 or 4 a week. It’s nice to be able to possibly get back in that kind of voracious book consumption again! But, I’ve really digressed.)
Anyway, I really can’t wait for the film. From what I can see and what I’ve read about the director and production, it’s going to be as faithful as a to-film translation can be! But, that also makes me rather anxious: There’s a scene in the first book, that I won’t spoil, that is gut-wrenchingly emotional. I’m not ashamed to say I cried reading it. In fact, any time since then I think about it too much, the tears come back. I’m trusting this director to do what he says he’s done and not focus on the violence but on the emotional and thematic elements of the book — which means I’m certain the film version of that scene is going to be emotionally crushing. I’m really not looking forward to that scene in the theater. Really not.
As for the books themselves: they have flaws. One of the problems I have the frequent anachronisms. The books take place somewhere between 100 and 900 years in the future (feels like closer to 200), and post-America is a fascinating mix of tech and pioneer. But Katniss, the lead, who has grown up closer to “developing nation” environment, will say phrases that would obviously have been lost and become meaningless in this kind of future. One that comes to mind: she refers to her recently acquired phone being “tapped,” even though she grew up without phones, has no modern entertainment to have learned of such a thing.
Another source of trepidation is expressed perfectly in this io9 article: “Can The Hunger Games really capture all of Katniss Everdeen?” No book can possibly be translated perfectly to film. Expecting that is like expecting a joke in French to be translated into math. But in HUNGER GAMES especially, as this article points out, 90% of what Katniss goes through, realizes, changes, and develops, is expressed internally. Her character is extremely outwardly reserved to the point of stoicism. How can we see the extreme emotional turmoil and angst she goes through internally in an audio-visual medium? Like the io9 author hopes, the actress, Jennifer Lawrence, is good–I hope she can pull it off.
Anyway, the first book was incredible! The second book was good, but felt like a variation on the earlier theme. But the third, MOCKINGJAY, which I’m currently in the middle of, takes the plot in an entirely new and fantastic direction. It contains some wonderful bit of humor, and a lot of well-written and authentic emotional moments. I’m really dreading finishing this series up. Usually when I get done with obsessively absorbing something, like watching all episodes of a cable series in 1 week, I go into a terrible depression afterward, missing and pining for that world I had just lived in for a time. Even though the world of HUNGER GAMES is distopian, the story si so compelling, and the characters so real, that I’m going to feel the pang of loss when I have to let go. *sigh*
Well, back to working on my Kickstarter before I get some reading in!