Living with a Peeta-file, Part I

I took my son to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games the day it opened. So many people were wrapped around the building that they had to show it on two screens. In my small community, that’s pretty amazing. But I guess we’re just a reflection of what was going on in the big cities.

A group of smiling girls dragged my son into their part of the line. And while he still claims to hold to the belief that girls are strange, he didn’t fight them too hard.

I was ambivalent going into the movie. Most adaptations fail, in my opinion, to capture the essence of a book. And this book was so very good that the thought of seeing it ruined before my eyes, larger than life, left me with butterflies in my stomach.

When the lights finally went down, people cheered. The spectacle we’d waited so long to see was finally here. As the opening frames lit up the screen, their screams got louder, then died away. And the further we got into the story, the more I felt embarrassed by our exuberance. This wasn’t a rom-com, lighthearted flick. Children die on the screen. It’s not the sort of film you can walk away from without being moved.

Over spring break, Drew tore through the next two books. I warned him that I was depressed for a week after reading Mockingjay. But of course that didn’t stop him. Some things you just have to discover for yourself.

I don’t know if I’ll watch the sequels. I LOVE The Hunger Games. And I think they did an incredible job making it into a movie. I highly recommend it. I enjoyed Catching Fire, though I still have a major hang-up with them returning to the games. But Mockingjay? I don’t know if I could ever read it again, let alone watch it unfold in all its horror onscreen. Though maybe a watered-down theatrical version would leave me less disturbed.

My son and I have had some pretty in-depth conversations because of these stories, about right and wrong, choice and sacrifice. That, I think, is what sets this trilogy apart. All those layers to chew on.

And once we’re done discussing the “heavy” stuff, there’s always the endless debate: Team Gale or Team Peeta? I loved Gale from the opening pages, had my heart torn out by him in the final chapters. My son thinks Peeta is a much better character, (though that might have more to do with projecting himself into Peeta’s role since, y’ know, he winds up with the kick-ass heroine).

12 thoughts on “Living with a Peeta-file, Part I

  1. Yes, the idea of watching a movie about kids who fight to the death for entertainment is very meta, and I'm glad that the significance of that wasn't lost on all the viewers.

    I loved Catching Fire, but like you, I found Mockingjay very difficult — important but not exactly enjoyable. I haven't been able to reread it, though I don't think I'll be able to resist seeing the film/s.

  2. The irony that a book about violence as entertainment is turned into a movie, and here we are cheering it on…Capitol, anyone?

    I saw it and found it very well done. I loved the series because it is provoking and disturbing and don't want to lose sight of this. Entertaining, yes, at the price of a commentary on our own weird ways.

    Sorry for sounding rather negative here!

  3. I haven't seen it yet but will eventually. I won't reread the books but I liked Hunger Games the best. And I was disappointed in Mockingjay for a lot of reasons. I forced myself to finish it. I'm glad to hear the movie was good!

  4. Isn't it interesting how the movie sparked so many fires of debate? I think a lot of uninformed people had the idea that it was some sort of Running Man for kids. I adore the book, and not really because it was “entertaining,” but because it is an amazing story. I agree that they did a good job with the movie.

    I have to disagree with you about Mockingjay. I loved it, and think the ending is perfect.

  5. I totally agree with you about the layers in this trilogy. The movie actually got me thinking about many of those themes with a lot more depth because I was comparing and contrasting the two mediums – book and movie. I liked the movie and think they did an admirable job, but it also, in many ways, fell just short for me. I'm not going to get into that in your comments because it'd be longer than your post, and I already wrote 2 Walls of Text on the subject on my blog, haha.

    But yeah, I'm grateful to the movie for adding another layer to the discussion. I also loved much of Catching Fire, but I didn't like Mockingjay. It was difficult, and I appreciated many of the themes and commentary in it, but in the end, it left me feeling both incredibly drained and kind of disappointed. But I'll probably see whatever movie-version they make out of curiosity, and like you said, a watered-down commercialized version of MJ might make it okay. 😛

  6. Oh and I have to add, yeah, totally Team Gale (BOOK version, MOVIE version wasn't as interesting). I love Peeta too and think he's wonderfully nuanced in the books, but there's just something about Gale that gets me.

  7. Kristan: I'm sure I'll see the other movies, if only because my son will “gently encourage” me 🙂

    Caroline: We are very like the Capitol in so many ways. But more about that in Part II…

    Shannon: I liked seeing what was happening with Seneca and in the game room. But I love knowing more about Katniss' motivations in the book.

    Laura: I've read Hunger Games four times. I think it's brilliant. I'm honestly scared to go near Mockingjay again, but I think I need to, if only to have a better conversation with my son about it.

    Rebecca: It's definitely the type of book that sparks debate. The subject matter kind of warrants it.

    Krispy: Now I need to go read what you wrote on your blog! And yes for Gale! They shared so much before she left, in their care for their families, surviving their fathers. They really knew and respected each other. It broke my heart to see that blown to shreds.

  8. I reread the trilogy before the movie came out, then was worried that was a mistake. It wasn't. I loved the movie and felt they did an amazing job dealing with some of the issues that arose with the book being from Katniss's pov and that we were often in her inner thoughts. I loved the behind the scenes stuff in the control room. That and the Games commentary solved a lot of the potential problems.

    I'm nervous about Mockingjay as a movie too.

  9. I'm curious how old your son is? My ten-year-old grandson is reading Hunger Games and wants to see the movie. I never would have given him the book, but a friend of his did. He's a very solid, thoughtful kid. But I really wonder about the movie. What do you think?

  10. Stina: I reread The Hunger Games after I saw the movie and it thrilled my geeky heart to see that entire passages had been used in the movie, almost word for word. 🙂 They did a really amazing job bringing this book to life and staying as true to the story as they could.

    Rosi: My son is 12. I read the book out loud to him when he was 11 because a lot of kids in his class were reading it and he was curious. I wanted us to be able to discuss it and not have him just tear through it and forget to ask questions as they came to him. He read the other two on his own. I think the book and movie are fine for a mature kid. My daughter is 9-and-a-half but she isn't nearly as mature as my son was at that age. It varies with each child.

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