[ 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

TV Tuesdays: Supernatural, and a few books to hunt down

Every Tuesday we spotlight a current television show–and the books that you just might like if you watch it. Here are this week’s reading suggestions based on…

Supernatural:

With openings that regularly scare the bajeezus out of me, Supernatural follows the life of two brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester, who hunt supernatural beasties for a living. Even as each episode drops us into a different life-death-undeath mystery, the long-term plot trajectories pull me (and the Winchesters)  into tense stand-offs against demonic powers, soul-stealing devil deals, Armageddon-hungry angels, and ancient pagan gods.

Well into its seventh season, the show maintains a great balance of kick-butt action, character growth, development, and angst (yes!). More than that, the show isn’t afraid of flat out making light of itself in between the heavy doses of loss, disillusionment, and self-deception.

So if you watch Supernatural, here are a few books you just might wanna stock up on for the coming apocalypse: Continue reading

[Small Chirp] Nathan Fillion is a Greek God

Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) has been cast as Hermes in the upcoming Percy Jackson sequel, The Sea of Monsters. For someone who is already worshiped as a Geek God, it’s only appropriate that he should land the role of a Greek god.

Hermes is a key supporting player in the Percy Jackson series written by Rick Riordan, as well as being the pivotal point for the main source of conflict in the books. Herme’s demigod son, Luke, becomes the main villain of the series, and the father-son dynamic between Luke and Hermes is the big reason why Luke goes over to the Dark Side in the first place. (Ha, I never realized how very Star Wars that is).

Depending on how the part is written, it may actually turn into a more melancholy role than we are used to seeing from Fillion of late. After all, absentee parenting is a central theme of the books; the gods are often absent from the lives of their demigod children, when they aren’t simply negligent. No god feels that harder than Hermes as he watches his son fight for the other side. Continue reading

TV Tuesdays: You know what you watch, but what should you read?

Every Tuesday we’ll spotlight a current television show–and the books that you just might like if you watch it. Here are this week’s reading suggestions based on one of my favorites:

Fairly Legal:

I saw the second season premier a week before it hits USA Network Friday, and what can I say, the show just keeps getting better. The quirky, witty female lead, complicated family and relationship drama, a pseudo-detective element, and fast pacing has me hooked.  Kate Reed quit her job as a lawyer to become a mediator a the San Francisco law firm her late father started. Now she’s fighting the system (and her stepmother) one mediation at a time.

When it comes to books, Fairly Legal speaks to the part of me that wants to be entertained, particularly when reading to unwind into the wee hours of the morning.

Here are some of my favorite drama rom-com novels with strong female leads: Continue reading

Book Watching: How a great book became a worthy movie

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is one of the five books I would want with me on a desert island (the others being The Little Prince, any anthology of Jeeves and Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse, the Bible, and the fat poetry anthology that lives by my bed). I first read the novel during the worst semester of my college years; my life was so stressful that I read five or ten pages at a time,  barely able to take the grief and pain in Jonathan Safran Foer’s writing. But it was so good that I could not give it up, even when it sent me to bed shaking.

The story, for those who don’t know, is about Oskar Schell, a precocious, possibly autistic nine-year-old boy whose father dies in the WTC on 9/11. His father had played scavenger hunt games with him, so when Oskar finds a key hidden in an envelope labeled “Black” with his father’s things, he takes it as a clue that the last and most important hunt is still waiting for him.

He takes off on a solo mission to ask everyone in New York with the last name “Black” if they know anything about the key. Interlaced with Oskar’s journey to find his father in the boroughs of New York is the story of his grandfather, a man who’s lost both his family and the ability to speak, and his grandmother, the sister of her husband’s true love.

Jonathan Safran Foer doesn’t flinch in the face of emotion, which I find wonderful in the Age of Irony, and he also does some typographical things that feel emotionally powerful, rather than gimmicky. So you can imagine the curdled blend of hope and preemptive disappointment I carried with me into the theater to see the movie adaptation. Continue reading

[ Small Chirp ] Ender Wiggin Finally Cast

When they first announced they were going to adapt Ender’s Game into a movie, I was in high school and just finishing the book for the first time. Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece of science fiction* was the first book to truly blow my mind—and as such, I was not at all excited to see it transferred to the big screen.

That’s right. Not excited. And for one simple reason: who the hell could star as Ender Wiggin?

Ender is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. He is deeply introspective, wicked smart, and has such vast character growth throughout the novel that it is impossible not to become irreversibly connected with him.

Oh, and he’s only 8 years old.

Eight years old! What the hell kind of child star could ever pull off such gravitas—especially for the twist to end all twists at the end of the novel? At the time when the film was first announced in 2003, I remember Haley Joel Osment’s name being bandied about to star. But absolutely none of my high school friends (read: super duper nerds and Card elitists) thought that Osment—or any kid—could ever actually play Ender.

Seven years later, I assumed that the movie idea was totally dead in the water. Imagine my surprise when I got a text from one of my friends saying that Ender has finally been cast. But the surprise was quickly followed by dread. If there wasn’t a child star in 2003 that I could name who could play Ender, then there certainly wasn’t one in 2011 that I could think of…except… Continue reading