“Backlog” is in the row I’m working on for CBR10bingo and the rule is it must have been on your TBR pile for at least a year, or the oldest book on your list. “This is easy! I have at least half a shelf of books from 2013 that I haven’t read yet.” Then I thought a little more and realized that I have an even older book, The Hunger Games. When the book trilogy was being released everyone was raving and I was all, “I’ll get there eventually.” When the movie was announced, “I should read that before the movie comes out”. Time blinked by and it was already on DVD, so I just gave in and watched it before reading the book. With the exception of James Bond movies, I’m fairly certain this series is the only time watching a movie BEFORE reading the book. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the book more than the movie, which has been my experience pretty much anytime something is adapted.
Details about the movie are fuzzy, as it has been several years since watching it. I did remember that there was a love triangle between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta but not why it was important or how it impacted Katniss. Being inside her head made the story considerably more rich. Her struggles with identifying how she felt towards Gale. The realization that he was more than friend but what did that make him exactly? Coming to understand that what Gale wants is not necessarily what she wants and where does that leave them?
Then the conflict with how her emotions evolved regarding Peeta. Katniss was putting on a show and assumed he was, but then little things pinged her conscious that it was more than for the cameras. At first she resisted this idea as it clouded her ability to think of Peeta as a competitor, after all there can be only one winner of the Hunger Games. But during the games things changed. The idea of losing him became harder to bear. Even though she stayed calculating, leveraging the “show” romance for aid, a shift happened in Katniss’s heart causing immense relief at the last minute rule change regarding winners.
During the games it was easier to set her long term feelings aside and focus on the immediate. However, always in the back of her mind was how Gale would perceive what was happening on screen. How her conflicted feelings about Peeta muddied the waters about Gale. What did she actually feel regarding Peeta? Once the games were over, the complexity of it all was almost more than she could bear.
Beyond the romance, it was also interesting to follow Katniss’s development from accepting of the status quo, and why bother since nothing can be changed, to outright hatred of the Capitol and it’s stranglehold on Panem. Also, her surprise at how small acts can carry far greater significance than intended and the actual fragility of the present state of affairs.
I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed The Hunger Games, after all many of my friends like it, but I was surprised at how invested I became, even knowing the outcome. As much as I want to keep working on my bingo row, or read another graphic novel to quickly move closer to my full cannonball, I am now going to have to read the whole trilogy because I don’t want to be separated from these characters yet!