I had a mommy break yesterday. I left Amelia with my sister, dropped the big gals at school, and boarded a caravan of buses with 175 8th graders (about half were former students of mine from last year) and headed to the biggest mall around on a field trip to see The Hunger Games.
This is the second year the novel has been taught in a unit that encompasses almost every reading and writing standard there is for eighth grade, so our students already had a unique perspective on the story. They've been discussing everything from figurative language to the desensitization of our society and after it was over, most of them uttered words this English teacher loves to hear: The book was way better.
I have to agree. And here's 10 reasons why.
1. Character development. Katniss is one of the richest and most complex heroines to come along in a while, and as good as Jennifer Lawrence was, the movie didn't let you hear the battle in her head the way the book does.
2. Madge. She's barely there for the first two books of the series but she's important as the giver of Katniss's token and even more important when you learn the history behind that little pin. But screen time? Cut completely.
3. Mother-Daughter relationship. Seeing the movie alone might make you think Katniss is a typical teenage girl who doesn't value her mother. Or you could read the book and get the whole story of how Katniss feels let down by the one person who should have cared for her unconditionally.
4. Who is Peeta really? Again, the movie can't show you nearly enough to help you understand who this boy is and why he loves her and how she will never feel that she can stop owing him. In an ironic twist, he saved her life long before the arena, but you lose all that in the film.
5. Being fatherless. Losing her father defines Katniss...I can't say it enough. There's so much back story.
6. The Triangle. Teenagers (girls) love the conflict between who Katniss truly loves. Is it Peeta or is it Gale? It's a question that can't be answered until the last book, but its build up is lacking in the film. Although the girls all agree they are both "smokin' hot."
7. Haymitch. He wasn't drunk enough. Which is probably a strange thing for you to hear me say, but it's true. I like Woody Harralson as this character, but he's just not quite as sloppy as I pictured him. Haymitch evokes both pity and disgust, but for the film he seemed more charming than anything else. He's one of those people you really are supposed to hate before you grow to love.
8. The bloodbath. It's a violent book. It's a horrific idea. No one's saying it's not, but actually seeing it instead of just having it imagined in my head...let's just say I appreciate the film makers not going to the extreme they could have.
9. The Capitol. Again, if you haven't read the story, you really don't get a sense of just how decadent the lives of those who inhabit the Capitol are. We barely see Katniss's prep team and she certainly doesn't eat enough. Lamb stew with dried plums anyone?
10. Rue. She's one of the most tragic figures in the entire story, and she was beautifully cast, but there's not enough development. Katniss immediately bonds to this child who had no older sister to take her place and though I love the movie's take on how this moment is truly what starts the rebellion, I missed getting to know Rue better.
What did you think? Are you of fan of the book or the movie or are you simply wondering what passing craze is going on now? And for the record, I could easily come up with ten moments I liked about the film adaption because I read the book.