Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games - Do the Book and Movie Match?

I saw the movie yesterday and as I promised all month, I dressed up like Katniss. I was the only one, which disappointed me, but perhaps dressing up like an iconic character for a movie is an effort that belongs to a past era. At least the costume didn’t make me look like an idiot. Plus, I enjoyed doing it.

There are two parts in both the movie and the book where a three-fingered tribute is given. It’s the same hand gesture the Girl Scouts use when they start their pledge, “On my honor I will try.” Perhaps Suzanne Collins thought about that when she created the idea because certainly Katniss makes it clear that on her honor she is going to try to survive, which means winning the Hunger Games. The characters kiss the three fingers and then make a salute outward. I was the only one in the audience who reciprocated. Both times. Clearly I’m too involved in the story line and perhaps I should have auditioned for the part of Katniss.

But none of this answers the question that is the topic of my blog. Do the movie and the book match? I’m pleased to say that they do. There are a few parts that aren’t exact, such as where Katniss gets the mockingjay pin. But there’s no time in a movie to set up everything that would entail, and it’s unimportant. The pin itself is what’s important and she ends up with it in her possession.

Some kids at the popcorn counter complained that the movie isn’t gory enough. They thought the book had more blood and commented how cool it would have been had all the ways the tributes died been shown. I agree that some of that is toned down. But the point of the story isn’t how gory the deaths are. The point of the story is why the games are conducted in the first place and how does Panem benefit from them. What eventually causes the people to rebel against the governmental control? The movie shows all of that beautifully.

The New York Times accuses the casting director of putting the wrong actress into the role of Katniss. Their specific complaint is that Jennifer Lawrence is “too curvy” to play a 16-year-old. There are two short scenes where that’s true. We’re talking 30 seconds total between the two shots and unless you’re nitpicking, this isn't a big deal. Lawrence effectively portrays the character of Katniss and was completely believable.

I know the plot backwards and forwards and as I watched the movie, anticipating each scene, it was delivered. What was even better was that the settings and the action are shown exactly as I imagined them when I read the book.

All in all, I had a great time at the movie and when the DVD comes out, if I don’t get it as a present, I’ll buy it myself. So yes, the book and movie match. If you haven’t read the book, be sure to enter my contest by clicking on this link to win your choice of one of the books in the trilogy. There’s only a week left to become one of the three winners.

Have you seen the movie and read the book? Please leave a comment with your opinion.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Giveaway - Five Favorite Scenes from The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games media attention continues to grow as the March 23 opening draws near. If you’re fans of my blog, you know that I’m part of the craziness. I now own an authentic replica of the arena jacket. Add a black v-neck t-shirt, tan pans and brown leather boots, and I’ll almost be properly outfitted to attend the movie next Saturday, for which I have advanced tickets. I’m anxiously awaiting my mockingjay pin to arrive in the mail, which I’ll display on the lapel of my jacket, just like in the book. But I don’t think I’ll be allowed entrance into the theater if I accessorize with a bow and quiver of arrows.

Before I share my limited list, take a quick look at part of an interview with author Suzanne Collins where she talks about the inspiration for her book.

Now for my list. Here are five of my favorite scenes from The Hunger Games book.
  1. The heart-wrenching scene where Katniss volunteers as tribute in place of her sister, Primrose.
  2. When Katniss shows the panel her skills and gains attention.
  3. The scenes where we see how Panem treats the tributes before sending them into the games. It was completely unexpected.
  4. The mad dash for the equipment when the games begin.
  5. When Ru alerts Katniss to a certain danger. (I won’t say what danger in case you haven’t yet read the book.)
Today’s movie trivia:  When Jennifer Lawrence re-enacted the part when Katniss volunteers as female tribute for District 12, the producers cried. At that point she was a slam-dunk for the part.

What are your favorite scenes? Comment below and don’t forget to enter The Hunger Games Book Giveaway contest I’m sponsoring. Click on the link to enter!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Novel Approach - The Wee Free Men

Terry Pratchett is probably one of the most prolific writers of our time. And if you’re someone who likes to read a series from beginning to end, you’ll find plenty to amuse you in his Discworld series. However, if you don’t like the first book and never read another one, you’ll miss the four books about Tiffany Aching.

In The Wee Free Men we first meet Tiffany at age nine who is a witch-wanna-be. Living in the Chalk with nothing to do but care for her little brother, her most obvious talent is making cheese, which is an odd way to begin a fantasy book about witches. At this point you may say, “I’m not interested in books about witches,” and move on to something more to your liking. However, I think that would be a mistake because Pratchett takes the idea of being a witch in a totally unique direction. How different? It would be as if he invited you to tea and then served Diet Coke instead. If I were to tell you that most of Tiffany’s apprenticeship about becoming a witch is learning to use common sense along with critical and analytical thinking as opposed to magic, you may reconsider, which I encourage you to do.

Mr. Pratchett says it best in the following trailer:

There are four books in the series (A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight) and Tiffany is about two years older in each one. The themes get increasingly complex and Tiffany has to figure out what to do to resolve the problem she faces. She gets help from the Nac Mac Feegles, also known has the wee free men, although she continues to insist they keep their distance. These tiny, Scottish blue members of a clan are a delightful side story to Tiffany’s development as a young adult and as a witch.

Each book is extremely well written with lots of humor and adults will find them captivating as well. Pratchett seems to do the crossover thing better than most. The following trailer, done in a charming Lego setting, gives you a synopsis of The Wee Free Men. If you like to listen to books while driving, I think Audible has the very best version.

Keep reading after the trailer for today’s movie tip on The Hunger Games and the link to the ongoing book giveaway contest.

Today’s Hunger Games movie trivia tip:  The boots Jennifer Lawrence wears throughout the movie were personally selected by her. She knew she would have to do a lot of her own stunts, so she wanted to ensure they were comfortable.  Remember to enter The Hunger Games book giveaway contest by clicking on this link. Simply go to the bottom of the post to enter!

Hunger Games Book Giveaway

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Hunger Games Book Give Away

If you’ve never read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, then let me just say, you’re missing an event. It’s a crossover book from young adult into adult, but not in the fantasy realm of Harry Potter. Nor is it a contemporary fairy tale. Not for the faint of heart, The Hunger Games is a mix between The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, the reality show “Survivor,” and a twisted allegory. Set in the future, the story pits a young girl of 16 against 23 other boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18. They embark upon a cruel ordeal of matching wits, strategy and combat knowing that only one of them will make it out alive.
Primrose Everdeen, the youngest member of the Everdeen household, is selected to participate in the annual Hunger Games of the nation of Panem. Enter Katniss, the older sister who volunteers as tribute for their district in place of her sister. True to contemporary society, the media gobbles up the selfless act and from there grows a riveting tale of survival, rebellion, love, and coming of age – all televised in magnificent oversized color in every household across the planet.
I picked up the book one day at lunch while looking for something “different” to read. Once in my car, I flipped open to the first chapter. Before I realized it, I was 30 minutes late getting back from lunch. The following morning I continued the book and ended up 45 minutes late to work . Again and again all week I followed the same tardy pattern until I was asked what in the world was the matter with me. I was accused of not being myself. While that was true, no one can be herself reading that book. I gloried in the story. I devoured the plot. I became the characters. I channeled Katniss. My own addictive interest intrigued my colleagues and the next thing I knew everyone on the campus was reading the legend. And like me, everyone left early for lunch and got back late – reading the book. We were Hunger Games junkies.
By the time the campus staff was halfway through The Hunger Games, I was already a quarter of the way through the second in the trilogy, Catching Fire. I polished it off swiftly then went around to everyone like the robot in “Lost in Space,” – “Warning! Warning! Don’t read the last page until you have Catching Fire in your hands. Failure to do so will result in a day of misery. Take heed. Warning! Warning!” By then they were true believers and before the day was out, there was a copy of Catching Fire on nearly everyone’s desk.
That’s where The Hunger Games reign temporarily ended. The last book in the series hadn’t yet been published. So along with millions of other fans, I checked out Suzanne Collins’ website every single day to watch the countdown clock to publication. I was hysterical with joy when the title, Mockingjay was announced and intoxicated with happiness when its dusty blue cover was revealed. I took a vacation day when it went on sale so I could read it uninterrupted. Mockingjay lived up to the reputation of its companion volumes and I read it with as much devotion and alacrity as I did the other two. It’s a marvelous set of books, although I will admit Catching Fire is my favorite of the three.
Now the movie is out. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I bought advanced tickets. Yes, I have a costume like Katniss. Yes, I intend to wear it to the opening. And yes, I go to the website daily to watch the countdown clock until March 23 when the movie debuts to the general public. You’d think I was going to Aruba. Obviously I’m a lifer. It’s possible the movie won’t be true to the book, but if the trailers are any indication, it’s spot on. Take a look at one below (I apologize for the commercial that comes with it at the beginning):

In celebration of the book and in rapt anticipation of the movie, I’m sponsoring a book giveaway. Three lucky readers will win their choice of one of the three books in The Hunger Games trilogy.
Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Entries restricted to USA and Canadian addresses only.  Thanks for reading!!!!