Hunger Games: Is the Movie as good as the Book?

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games

The Book

Hollywood has been adapting books to the big screen for as long as there's been Hollywood. Gone With the Wind, The Caine Mutiny, The Wizard of Oz, and oh hundreds and hundreds more. Hunger Games took only two months to make it to the New York Times Best Seller List AND stayed there for over 100 consecutive weeks, which meant a lot of people were reading it. One year later production rights were purchased.

So what is Hunger Games all about anyway? It's a post-Apocalyptic story of suppression, hunger, and reality TV. The dust jacket on the hard cover version states;

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by the twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games.

"Themes of government control, "big brother," and personal independence are explored amidst a thrilling adventure that will appeal to science fiction, survival, and adventure readers. The suspense of this powerful novel will keep the reader glued to the page long after bedtime."--VOYA, Deborah L. Dubois

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is now Amazon’s top-selling book series of all time, outselling the seven-book Harry Potter series, the online retailer announced today. That takes both physical and e-books into consideration. Hunger Games achieved its Amazon milestone with three books over four years compared with J.K. Rowling’s seven over the course of well beyond a decade. (deadline.com, ‘Hunger Games’ Trilogy Outsells Harry Potter’s 7 Books On Amazon, by the Deadline Team)

The Story (Background)

The story of the Hunger Games is told by sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen. Katniss, her mother and her sister live like all the others in District 12, a hard life. Food is a rare commodity so it is eaten sparingly and shared when possible. The difference in the Everdeen house is Katniss defies the rules and goes outside of the fence to hunt with her 'friend' Gale. "In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale." He is her friend and confidant and just maybe a little more.

The book starts on no ordinary day, it is the day of the "Reaping" when children (referred to as Tributes) are chosen for the Hunger Games. Katniss fills you in on the goings on in District 12. She explains the "tesserae" a thing that is worth a meager year's supply of grain and oil for one person. When you get more tesserae your name is entered into the reaping drawing a second time. You become eligible for the reaping at twelve and once you turn thirteen your name is entered twice and so on. Then add your tesserae and like Gale, your name could be entered forty-two times, raising your odds of being picked.

You immediately realize Katniss' devotion to her little sister Prim (full name Primrose) and her disdain for her mother. The explanation for that comes later when you learn that after her father's death in the coal mines, her mother withdrew from living and left Katniss to look after Prim and make sure they all had food.

The drawing for the Hunger Games requires all of the eligible children to be nicely dressed and to meet in the Town Square. The Mayor and Effie Trinket, District 12's escort (with her pinkish hair and spring green suit) sit on the podium with two clear balls. The balls are filled with the children's names; one for the girls and one for the boys. Effie begins, "Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!" Ladies first. The name called is Primrose Everdeen. Kantiss is breathless and totally stunned. As she regains her composure she runs forward and volunteers to take Prim's place. The boy's name, picked from the ball, Peeta Mellark. Kantiss thinks of how she knows this boy and how he was once nice to her. She doesn't want him picked but is equally glad it isn't Gale.

Now the journey begins. The good-byes limited by the Peacekeepers who only allow a few moments. Gale comes to say good-bye as does Peeta's father. Then Katniss and Peeta are put on a train (fancier than anything they've ever seen) headed for the Capitol built in a place once called the Rockies.

Katniss and Peeta are escorted by Effie and their mentor Haymitch. Everything that is done is televised on huge screens throughout all of the districts. As they ride the train they see the re-broadcast of the Reaping in all of the Districts (12 in all) and who their competitors will be. On the train ride we learn more about Haymitch and his drinking, the skills needed for the hunger games, and how to 'act' in front of the cameras. Much goes on during the day long train ride from the Appalachian area to the Rockies. The food is unbelievable and set out in huge quantities...in stark contrast to the hunger they are used to living with.

Katniss and Peeta are awed when they reach the Capitol; its size, the buildings and then the people. A crew prepares Katniss and Peeta for their first appearance...at the Remake Center. All of the tributes are introduced to the Capitol by being especially dressed for their district and then riding in on a chariot.

Enough detail about the background...you can find out more by reading the book. After days of training the Hunger Games begin. Just before the tributes start out to the games a tracker is injected into their arms. This way the Capitol always knows where they are and they can be seen on TV at any time, day or night. This is a fight for survival with 24 competitors and only one winner and every gory detail is televised.

Each tribute has their own talents...some of the tributes are vicious and trained from birth (though it is forbidden by the rules of the game) and others just trying to stay alive. Groups form but as the game progresses they often turn on each other knowing only one can survive.

Katniss and Peeta however begin to form a bond...much happens between the train ride and the end of the games.

The Movie

To avoid being redundant and boring you to tears I left a lot out about the book figuring I could pick some of it up here as we visit the movie. Of course there are differences, many out of necessity many for better movie watching.

For example, Haymitch is a bit more likeable in the movie but in both the book and movie he helps Katniss and Peeta by getting sponsors who pay to 'drop' supplies to them in the arena, (during the Games) when they need them the most.

There is only a quick scene about Katniss' father's death that, if you didn't read the book, you might miss altogether. All of the characters are well portrayed, especially Effie Trinket. She is so spot on it's like reading about her while you're watching. (Okay in the first scene her suit is green in the book and pink in the movie, but otherwise she's a great adaptation.)

The Capitol is portrayed as one might imagine and the eccentricities of its citizens are also what you would imagine from reading the book. Their voices, the color, their clothes all so silly for a people who want to watch every moment of 23 children dying. Not a happy premise that's for sure but that is what The Hunger Games are all about. It's like the Coliseum of Ancient Rome meets Reality TV.

The official start of the Hunger Games has each tribute standing on a small platform that has risen from the training center up to the arena. The tributes must wait for the signal to leave their platform or they will be blown to bits. The first part of the Games is the supplies laid out at the Cornucopia. The "bloodbath" at the cornucopia is portrayed well in the movie. The only thing missing is what Katniss is thinking. Remembering that Haymitch told them not to go to the Cornucopia but to immediately run the other way. She spots the bow and arrow (which she is comfortable with and good at) and wants to get it to protect herself and help her get food. She is thinking Peeta looked at her and shook his head to distract her, which is not the case as you find out later. Seeing the movie of course, you don't know what is going on Katniss head. She decides to try to reach the bow and arrow, a boy, I think from District 9, reaches the pack at he same time and as they try to wrest the bag from each other the boy is killed by a knife in his back and so begin the Hunger Games for Katniss. A canon sounds as the boy dies. Katniss then fleas as she was told, heading to the woods to look for water.

That night, and every night thereafter the seal of the Capitol appears in the sky and the anthem is played followed by the death recap. The face and District number for each tribute that has died that day are displayed...the first night eleven have been killed. Katniss sleeps in a tree at night to give her an advantage if any of the other tributes sneak up on her in the dark.

There is a center at the Capitol that controls the games and directs tributes where the Capitol wants them to be. It is well portrayed in the movie, very technical and yet scaringly realistic. At one point they start a fire in the forest to drive Katniss back where they want her. This scene is yet another that plays out exactly as you would think when reading the book.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta goes through many changes during the game...from betrayal to comaraderie to Katniss beginning to feel what she has only been playing at. But, enough is enough in this description. I have taken you through the book and through the movie on a basically superficial note. I think the movie was very well done and very true to the book but now it is up to you to decide. Read the book, see the movie and see what you think.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey into the Hunger Games. Please know, much is missing, but I meant it that way so as not to take the 'fun' out of reading or seeing it. Feel free to comment and/or add any suggestions about the book, the movie, or both. Thank you for reading.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved


Did you read the book or see the movie?

  • Read the book
  • Saw the movie
  • Read the book AND saw the movie
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Comments 21 comments

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Mary, I loved both the book and the movie..both are just as entertaining. Thanks for a wonderful review! Am sharing!


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Mary, I couldn't get into either the book or the movie, but totally seems you did your homework here with the differences between the two and for those who are into this series (which are truly so many) you have provided a great resource here. Have voted and shared too!!


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I loved the movie, but haven't read the book. I thought they did a great job on the movie, and loved the casting. It sounds as if it's worth reading the entire series of books. Good review - vote up!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Michelle, I totally appreciate your sharing besides.

Janine, I am surprised but you do have your hands full with little ones. Thanks for the vote and sharing.

Funny mperrottet, I saw the movie then read the book. Thought I would be disappointed but wasn't. Glad you liked my review.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Til...OK, GF....I read this twice. I think I am "missing" something....or "adding" something......but, would it surprise you to know I don't think I want to read the book or see the movie?

However, your Hub is 5 Stars.....as always. Your writing style puts me in mind of a genius Maestro., conducting the world's most famous orchestra, and creating a masterpiece.......Now, that's how my weird mind works! I can place you in that picture.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

I have not read the book or watched the movie. Since the review is so interesting, I will have to watch the movie.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

I really have to read that book. It's on my pile of "to read" books. Interesting review. I always like to read the book before I see the movie, so we'll be renting it later.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

OK GF, you are missing something as far as the 'in' thing at the moment...you've gotta see the movie, you do have grandchildren right? God help the orchestra I conduct, I'd scratch my nose and have them playing against each other.

I think you might enjoy Vinaya...it really makes you stop and think about where we're headed.

Glimmer I thought that too but got conned into watching the movie first, it really didn't matter, I still enjoyed the book.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Totally taken by the fine plotting! Your review pours loads of info and the trailers are...of course, cinematical for a 2012 standard. Would love to catch up with the movies, because missed all of them. Thanks Mary!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

I thought that the movie was OK, but the ending kinda sucked ... it didn't really wrap much up ... which probably means part 2 will be coming soon! lol

Up, interesting, pinned, shared and tweeted


Mama Kim 8 profile image

Mama Kim 8 4 years ago

I loved both the book and the movie but the biggest thing that bugged me about the movie was how they went about the mocking jay pin. They completely left out the mayor's daughter who it originally belonged to... they made it old and tarnished when it's supposed to be a brilliant gold (I think so it's easier to make and sell to the masses) then they make it seem like Cinna secretly sneaks it onto her clothes instead of how in the book every tribute is allowed a memento of home as long as it's not useful to the games. For someone who doesn't know this it raises the question... what else could a tribute sneak into the games... when this shouldn't be in question. OH... and also with the pin... Katniss gives it to Prim saying it's good luck... then Prim gets picked. Prim gives it back to her, saying it's good luck ?? Anyone else see what's wrong with that? ok... I'm done now ^_^ Hunger Games the book and the movie are really both in my top 10s. You made an excellent hub on them!! Voted a bunch and shared!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I actually ruined the whole thing by buying the second book! lol! I got completely confused and gave it up! but it does sound a bit like the Running Man, the original French film adapted to American and played by Arnold Swarzenegger, I will be watching it, just to see if its any good and maybe then i can get the second book again! lol! great review, and filled in all the gaps, thanks! voted up and shared, nell


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I just watched the movie and I can't wait to read the book(s)! I honestly didn't really expect to like the movie, but I thought it was pretty good. I have high hopes for the books.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Lord you would probably enjoy the movie (I saw it on HBO On Demand).

Brett you are right...always leave room for the sequel, but then the book does too. The second movie is due out November 2013.

You're right Mama Kim but I didn't have room to elaborate on a things in this hub if I wanted people to be able to read it in a reasonable time. I don't think the movie portrayed Katniss true feelings for Gale either, but these are some of the things they sacrifice when they adapt to the screen. Glad you liked my hub! Thanks for stopping by.

Oh Nell, You're the best! You might enjoy the movie....see the first one before the second one comes out ;)

I know what you mean Natashalh, I thought it would be more for teenagers but was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Awesome movie. I am looking forward to reading the book on advice from my son! Wonderful job comparing the two!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

We rent movies every Saturday and sometimes on Friday. My daughter called and told us to rent the Hunger Games. (I didn’t read the books) I was expecting to love this movie but for some reason it reminded me of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory a movie I absolutely hated.

I love Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. I didn’t like the boyfriend in this movie.

We were falling asleep watching it. I just expected something else I guess. I would also think this movie would give kids nightmares thinking they may someday have to do this to stay alive.

Voted uP!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Teresa, if you liked the movie I think you will like the book too.

Moonlake I am surprised you were falling asleep, however, I agree with your statement about nightmares and wondered that too. I wonder what age is appropriate for the movie.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

til thanks so much for the preview and story-lines I've never got caught up in the hunger game fenzy never saw the movie or looked at the book.. but now maybe I will give it a shout the trailer looked interesting thanks :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

You are most welcome Frank...glad I could bring you in from the cold ;)


LA Elsen profile image

LA Elsen 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

I was waiting for my husband to pick out his cheese at Sam's Club and I stumbled across the huge display with all three books. I started reading and by the time he returned I was hooked. Cancel dinner I am reading in. That's how I get when I find a good book. I had to take breaks and give him the synopsis after each chapter or two, and then he became intrigued. Well we finally saw the movie and we both had mixed reactions to it. Some elements were so true to the story, the casting of characters was perfect, but it lacked something and I can't figure it out. Oh well. It still was a pretty entertaining movie. Thanks for the comparison and review.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I had to laugh reading your comment LA Elsen, when I start a book I can't put it down until I'm finished though it sounds like your husband is more understanding about it than mine ;) You are most welcome and I am glad you stopped by to read!

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