It is not everyday that I become so obsessed with a work of fiction that I lie awake into the wee hours of the morning, trying to envision just how I would picturise it, had I been directing its movie adaptation. Alright, I’m weird, but put it down to a professional hazard where I’ve worked with multiple cameras and their infinite angles for over ten years now. And even then, I know what we have in television is child’s play compared to what is employed and can be achieved in movies. In TV the most complex camera set-up I have worked with is four cameras, five maybe including a Jimmy Jib. Sigh. The very thought of working with as many as twenty cameras for a single shot makes me quake with inspiration.
Which is why I just cannot let go of the imagery that The Hunger Games trilogy has embedded in my mind. Alright, go ahead and laugh. (Yeah, I know it’s meant to be young adult fiction but thankfully my favourite author of all time, Stephen King has quelled my inhibitions on that front, as he considers ‘young adult novel’ a dumbbell term that he puts right up there with ‘jumbo shrimp’ and ‘airline food’ in the oxymoron sweepstakes… Ha ha! Could anyone put it better?) Anyway, so young adult or not, thanks to my insatiable appetite for popular fiction, I do read whatever is taking the world by storm; be it the soppy, mushy Twilight series to the riveting and brilliant Millenium Trilogy to my latest obsession: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Some of you, family and friends, will groan because you’ve already heard me go on too much about this trilogy. So I’ll keep it short.
It is brilliant. It is evocative and it is thought-provoking in a way I never imagined ‘young adult fiction’ could be. Set several hundred years in the future, it is staged in the nightmarish country of Panem, where the annual highlight is a reality TV show called the Hunger Games, in which teenagers fight each other to the death. The concept might make your stomach turn, but believe me, the treatment won’t. Because author Suzanne Collins has woven the fabric of that world so intricately that one almost begins to view the Hunger Games as par for the course, just like the audience in Panem would. And the protagonists, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are so finely etched that one cannot help but feel emotionally engaged with them. And therein lies the secret to a great work of fiction, doesn’t it? Collins’ Katniss Everdeen is even more kick-ass than Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander – believe me – because she is simply more believable. And as for the baker’s son, Peeta Mellark, well I’d like him for breakfast any day.
The trilogy moves from the adrenaline-fuelled adventurous first novel, The Hunger Games, to the somewhat sluggish second one, Catching Fire, (which I must admit seems not much more than a means to bridge the first with the utterly brilliant third) to the concluding volume, Mockingjay. It is in this intelligent, complex and unsettling third book that one can truly appreciate the allegorical quality of the entire story; one that asks questions we are all too afraid to ask.
The likes of Entertainment Weekly and MTV have listed The Hunger Games – starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth – as the most anticipated movie of 2012. Gosh, I hope it does justice to Suzanne Collins’ book. Can’t wait for 23rd March.