Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Hunger Games - Book vs Film

I am a huge fan of the books so I was excited and nervous when I heard a film would be made. I hoped it would be able to capture the excitement of the books but I had my doubts and unfortunately they were proven true.

I really wanted to love the film but I just didn't. That's not to say it wasn't done well, I could see the film makers had done their best, they had a great cast, a good script and they followed the story to a tee but it just didn't work for me. So why not?

Well, because it didn't move me. I felt nothing as I watched Katniss fighting for her life yet when I read it I was gripped. Completely gripped. I felt Katniss' pain, her sacrifice, her urge to survive, her anger, her sadness but during the film I had no emotional reaction except for disappointment.

The other problem I find is the need in films to switch between characters. The book may well be in the first person but in films they always want to show the bad guys, the background characters and so the intensity present in the book is missing. It becomes watered down here for example we see the gamemaker and president Snow making their plans and that detracts from Katniss' struggle. Another example of this is Eclipse - the third film in the twilight series where they add in the perspective of Bree Tanner - not shown in the original book but published as a short story later - and so take away from the core story.

The other watered down aspect of the film was the violence. Despite what you may have heard in the papers The Hunger Games movie is not particularly violent and this is a negative in my opinion. The fighting in the books is shocking and harsh and sends a message. The fighting in the film is weak and unexciting, there's no blood or gore - this may be a decision based on the audience or their age rating but it leaves you uninvolved. It doesn't look real or terrifying and it should. That's the point. The hunger games are designed to break the population, to keep them under control and we should be horrified by that and yet in the film I don't think that point comes across as stongly as it should.

It's always hard to turn any book into a film, partly because when you read a story you imagine it in your head, you see it a certain way and then it jars with you when the filmmakers do something different. Just occasionally they do something startling - they make it better. It's rare I admit but the Lord of  the Rings trilogy is a classic example. Peter Jackson did a fantastic job with it and exceeded everyone's expectations.
More often I'm disappointed, the Harry Potter films, the Twilight saga , they're all good films but not quite as good as the books:

Harry Potter because too much had to be left out leaving the story sketchy and malformed, oftimes hard to follow if you hadn't read the books first.

Twilight had the same problem as the Hunger Games but to a lesser degree and that is the lack of voice.

Bella and Katniss both have striking, unique, enchanting voices that you can't help but love but they don't exist in the film and so you lose a huge part of the understanding and all of the empathy.
One of the wonderful things about books is that they allow us to see inside someone's head and it immerses us into their world...but on film that link is gone, we only understand what we can physically see and hear, we don't have the inner monologue and it makes a difference.
So, what does that mean, can great books with a strong first person voice be recreated on the big screen? I don't know to be honest but certainly not in this case.

I am sure Hunger Games will be a huge success and anyone who hasn't read the books will probably love it but  for me, it will never work, will never replace the books and that's fine, disappointing but fine. Not every book should be a film. Some of them live on best in our own imaginations.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Up the Garden Path

Okay so this was going to be a post on The Hunger Games film but I've been distracted by another topic. Deep into revision it occured to me how easy it is to simply take the wrong path while writing.
I admit I'm not a planner, I begin my writing with a kernel of an idea and set off on the journey with no real idea of where I'm going. So therefore it's easy for me to wander off in the wrong direction. That's not a problem as such if, and I say if, you figure out when you've gone wrong.
Unfortunately it's harder than it sounds! Because let's face it, if you have no plan how do you even know when you've gone wrong?
Of course you should be able to figure out when something doesn't sound right but it's often hard to pinpoint exactly where the problem is. It's easy to spend ages fiddling with what you've done and never see the deeper issues.
So what do you do? Can you avoid the brambles on the path? Should you even want to? What if you find some blackberries among the brambles? What if your wrong path leads somewhere amazing?
A detailed plan could save you wandering too far but it may also prevent those moments of startling revelation that occasionally surprise us all so what do we do?
Well, in my case I used a literary consultant and she very kindly kicked me in the right direction. You don't have to pay for this service of course, you could use a crit group or a writing buddy to help you see where you may have taken a wrong turn. The perspective gained from others can't be underestimated in my opinion - as long as they have some understanding of writing of course - opinions from your mum, your friend or your child can't entirely be trusted, trust me!
So, don't be afraid of wrong turnings, they may not even be wrong, just different from what you expected and if you do find yourself up a cul de sac withot a paddle get another opinion, fresh eyes can make all the difference.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Y.A? Y Not!

My love affair with books for young adults began with the Twilight Series. I know not everyone agrees, some have even called them boring but personally I think they're amazing. It doesn't matter that not much happens for the first two thirds because Bellas voice is so fantastically well written it doesn't matter. Stephanie Meyer did a brilliant job creating it and I really think voice is one of the reasons why I love Y.A so much. Authors of Y.A understand that a really well defined, first person voice can make or break a story.
I started reading my next favourite set of Y.A books because Stephanie Meyer recommended it on her website - it was - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I was immediately hooked by another stupendous voice - that of Katniss Everdeen. Add in a mind blowing concept and two more books in the series, each one better then the last if possible and you have an incredible trilogy.
So, I may be in my thirties but I love Y.A and if I'm honest I'm quite jealous of teenagers today having such a wealth of books aimed at them. When I was the same age there was nothing written especially for us. After I'd read Judy Blume and Lois Duncan I moved straight onto the books on my parents bookshelves, massive blockbusters by authors like ; Judith Krantz, Stephen King, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Dean Koontz, Harold Robbins, to name just a few.
Much as I love Y.A books now I know without a doubt that I would have loved them even more when I was actually a teenager.
My other reasons for reading Y.A are that they're not allowed to get away with anything. By that I mean, they don't waste time, the plots move very quickly ( in the belief that all teenagers have low boredom thresholds) so there's no extraneous, unnecessarily long descriptions, slow, boring passages or anything that isn't entirely intrinsic to the plot. As such they grab and hold my attention entirely.
Books for adults on the other hand can often wallow in the unnecessary and I do find myself giving up on certain books more easily now and unfortunately in a bit of a temper. "Why?" I ask the author, "why are you boring me? Just because I have a longer attention span doesn't mean I want to waste it on unnecessary dross."
Anyway, if you haven't opened up your heart to the Y.A market then I urge you to do so - more amazing books include -

The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Yelana Zeltana trilogy by Maria V Snyder
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy - Y.A rocks dude!

P.S - Am going to see the Hunger Games Film tonight and am desperately hoping it will live up to my expectations. My next post will involve a look at movie adaptations from books - the good, the bad and the downright ugly!