[Small Chirp] Suzanne Collins’ Next Book is….a Children’s Book?

When I woke to an email proclaiming ‘Suzanne Collins’ Next Book Called “A Year in the Jungle,” I did a little happy dance, my brain immediately spouting off with images of YA heroes racing around in some foreign land, fighting all sorts of beasties in a tropical jungle while a war rages on and –

And then I saw this cover.

And then I had to decide whether or not I was allowed to get annoyed at someone for writing a picture book.

The new story, which is illustrated by Jame Proimos, is autobiographical, detailing Collins’ own experience as a child while her father was in fighting in Vietnam. She offered her inspiration for the story: Continue reading

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[Small Chirp] Making an Impression: Beauty in The Hunger Games

First off, I cannot give Suzanne Collins enough kudos for creating Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the Hunger Games trilogy. It’s like the woman went to Mary Sue Academy and made a point of reversing everything. Katniss is strong, interesting, and flawed all over the place: she’s not particularly friendly or charming, resists being thrust into place as a political symbol, is uncomfortable with guys liking her, and (gasp) isn’t even particularly pretty. Just about the only thing going for her is she’s not clumsy, right?

I kid, I kid. Katniss is gutsy and devoted and actually takes the time to think about whether what she does is justified or justifiable, and I love her.

What I was curious about, though, was how the filmmakers would treat the issue of beauty–and lack of it–in their adaptation.The books make a special point of paying attention to appearance. The superficiality of the Capitol comes out through outlandish fashion and extravagant food, and the brutality of the Games is even creepier in light of it. And of course, as I mentioned, the fact that neither Katniss nor Peeta is gorgeous is incredibly refreshing in the piles of books about pretty girls and their attractive crushes.  I tend to be out of the loop on trailers and such, so the only image I had of Jennifer Lawrence and the other actors going in was a movie poster I saw that was all moody and cheekbone-y. Great, I thought. It’s going to be The Help all over again, where the costumers for Emma Stone read “uncontrollable frizz” and decide to go with “flawless corkscrew curls that I would kill to have.” Continue reading

[ Book Watching ] The Hunger Games, from Book to Movie

Warning: This review will contain spoilers for both the book and movie versions of The Hunger Games.

One of the greatest challenges of taking a story from book to screen is figuring out what to change. A movie’s narrative needs to stand on its own, working under the assumption that there will be people in the audience who have not read the source material.

In recent years, we’ve seen this done to varying degrees of success. Atonement is a great example of an adaption done right: the end of the movie is completely different than that of the book (for good reason), but the endings had the same thematic feel and impact. And early this March, our Pirate Canary told us about the successful plot-pruning and adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Safran Foer.

Of course, then there are the oft-maligned Harry Potter adaptations (past about movie four), in which one too many subplots were left on the editing room floor and the narrative started to get shaky for anyone who wasn’t familiar with the books.

And then we have The Hunger Games, undoubtedly the most-anticipated movie so far in 2012. Would it succeed in capturing the harrowing, break-neck pace of Suzanne Collins’ blockbuster books? Or would it fall victim to too much cut, too little left? Continue reading

[ Book Review ] Hungry for More Collins?

Gregor the Overlander

by Suzanne Collins

I think what surprises me the most in the wake of the Hunger Games fever is how little is ever said about Suzanne Collins’ other series, Gregor the Overlander. I realize that there is a fairly big gap between the two series as far as target demographic goes (Gregor is firmly in the Middle Reader area while Hunger Games is about as Adult as Young Adult gets), but the themes of the two series are so closely tied that the lack of comparison to–or even mention of–Gregor is strange. So let’s change that right now with a proclamation:

If you liked Hunger Games, you’ll love Gregor the Overlander.

Gregor is a five-book series that follows the titular character as he faces the wild and violent world of the Underland, a huge civilization under New York City, filled with transparent-skinned humans and talking rats, bats and spiders. Gregor finds himself at the center of a prophecy that names him as the Warrior of the Underland, the one sent to save the humans from the wrath of the mighty rat monster, Bane.

Just one problem: Gregor wants absolutely nothing to do with fighting of any kind. He doesn’t even want to contemplate that he might be a killing machine. But time and time again, he’s thrown back into the battle, sacrificing pacifiscism for the sake of saving his family and friends. Continue reading

[ Small Chirp ] Katniss: Heroine or Anti-hero?

I’ve heard it bandied about that Katniss, the main character and narrator of The Hunger Games, is no heroine. In fact, some sources claim that she is an anti-heroine. This vexes me. I don’t pretend Katniss is above reproach, but I know that she’s a hero–better yet, she’s the hero for her world and people. She’s their only viable option.

“Wait, there are options?” you ask… Yep. There’s a triumvirate of viable characters just waiting to be the hero: Peeta, Gale, and Katniss.

Peeta:

For purists who are looking at for the “Shining White Knight” as their hero du jour, there is Peeta. He is merciful, kind, humane and always does the right thing – regardless of the consequences. Even after Peeta is captured and imprisoned, when he has an opportunity to warn the rebels (and Katniss) of an impending attack, he does so. He is beaten and tortured as a result, but despite the consequences, he took the moment to do the right thing. See that bloody pulp on the ground? There’s your classic hero. Continue reading

[ Small Chirp ] Hunger Games Goes Viral

About a month ago, a curious website popped up on the web: http://www.thecapitol.pn. And my Hunger Games senses went all a tingle.

The strange domain name could only mean one thing: with the dot-pn in the address, Panem, the Hunger Games world, has gone viral.

At that time, the site was fairly basic. It encouraged visitors to sign up for their District Identification cards. I thought perhaps it would be a sorting game ala the Harry Potter Sorting Hat, but it was far simpler: Log in to Twitter or Facebook and receive a random district assignment. And wait for further instructions.

I had honestly forgotten about the site until I received an email last night telling me that District 9’s identification cards had been processed. That particular district placement had been a bit of a bummer; no one knew anything about District 9. I was in no-man’s land. But as it was one of the first districts to gain access to the full site, then I couldn’t complain that much.

Continue reading