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Tag: Suzanne Collins (21-30 of 32)

'Hunger Games': Is Rue black? And should race matter when you're casting the movie?

Hunter-Games-Willow-ChloeImage Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images; Michael Kovac/Wire Record 20862974So far, most early Hunger Games casting predictions have focused on Katniss Everdeen (see the Great Kaya/Lyndsy Debate) and the boys who love her. But what about Rue? The youngest tribute (12 years old) in the 74th Hunger Games, Rue would be a difficult role for any pre-teen actress. Adding some complexity: the fact that Rue is clearly described as having “satiny brown skin” on page 98. Don’t worry if you didn’t know that Rue and her fellow District 11 tribute Thresh were black. I didn’t either after my first read. (Like most people, I raced through the book in about three seconds.) But now that it’s time to cast the movie, we should ask: How important is it that Rue be played by an African American actress?

You could argue that, in Panem, race matters much less than which district you’re from. It wouldn’t radically alter the structure of THG if Rue were played by, say, Chloe Moretz. But it feels like there should be some color in this movie, if only to avoid something like the color-bleached Last Airbender or the caucasiafied Earthsea. And there’s arguably a deeper level of meaning to Rue’s ethnicity: one commenter on Keith Staskiewicz’s recent post argued that District 11, where citizens work all day in the fields and live in fear of the Peacekeepers, explicitly references plantation life in antebellum South.

What do you think, Shelf Lifers? Would you be offended if they didn’t cast a black actress for Rue? Doesn’t bigscreen sci-fi/fantasy just need more non-white actors on principle? Do you agree with our choice of Willow Smith for the part, or have the fates decreed that Chloe Moretz absolutely must have a role in this franchise?

'The Hunger Games': How reality TV explains the YA sensation

hunger-gamesImage Credit: CBS/Landov; FoxThe Hunger Games is an incisive satire of reality television shows. It’s easy to compare Suzanne Collins’ series to earlier “totalitarian government/media bloodsport” stories like The Running Man and Battle Royale. But there’s a key difference. In those earlier most-dangerous-game stories, the bloodsports were essentially ghoulish game shows (the film version of Running Man made this explicit by casting Family Feud host Richard Dawson the villain.) But The Hunger Games was written in a very different media context. Collins has discussed how the initial spur for the series came when she was channel-flipping between war coverage and reality TV. Just consider how effectively Collins weaves so many reality TV tropes into her story:

The Makeover: One of the great running subplots on American Idol is the steady Hollywood-ization of the contestants over the course of a season. Remember when Clay Aiken had glasses? Or when Adam Lambert didn’t wear guyliner? Practically the first third of Games focuses on a similar makeover process, including a full-body wax.

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Why 'The Hunger Games' isn't the new 'Twilight'

It’s Twilight all over again.

How many times have I heard that in the two years since The Hunger Games came out? Too many too count. And I have to say, it continues to baffle me: These novels could not be more different. Stephenie Meyer’s is more of a traditional romance (populated, I grant you, by some pretty untraditional characters); while Suzanne Collins’ is a tale of war and survival.

Is it that both books star unforgettable women? I suppose you could say that in the most sweeping and general sense, Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan are alike: Both have cores of steel. They know what they want, and they aren’t going to back down. But for me, any similarity ends there.

Forged by famine, disease, and unbelievable hardship, Katniss, 16, regularly slips beneath the electrified barbed wire fence to hunt and forage for her her family–a crime punishable by death. She’s not interested in romance. She’s not big on forgiveness (even when it comes to her own mother). And when her younger sister, Primrose, is selected by lottery to participate in the barbaric murder ritual called The Hunger Games, Katniss steps in and takes her place. Bella, on the other hand, has known sadness but not poverty or want.  Arriving in Forks to live with her dad, knowing no one, she’s the shy girl, the outcast, who’s suddenly plucked from obscurity by the ravishingly handsome Edward Cullen. Hers is the stuff of classic fairy tales; she’s a princess who must be rescued, time and time again, by her one of her two prince charmings, either the vampire or the werewolf. Frankly, compared to Katniss, Bella is simply the more passive character: For the most part, things happen to her. Katniss, on the other hand, copes with disaster by strategizing–and bulldozing–her way through the situation. Does she ever need to be rescued? Absolutely. But  she also rescues Peeta–a real or feigned love interest?–more than once along the way.

That brings me to the love triangle issue. Could it be that people compare the two books because their heroines must choose between two men? Again, I don’t find this valid. Bella, it seems to me, never wavers in her love for Edward, despite Jacob’s devotion. In contrast,  I’m left with the feeling that Katniss may very well not know what love is at all. She may have been too badly damaged by war, by deprivation, by emotional and physical torture to ever be able to love fully and normally. Whatever she feels for Peeta or for Gale, it isn’t the headlong devotion Bella has for Edward.  More importantly, the question of whom Katniss will end up with isn’t what drives the narrative.  In other words, the question isn’t, Which one will she marry? The question is, Will she live until the end of the book?

So weigh in, Shelf Lifers. Do you think Twilight and The Hunger Games tread the same territory?

'The Hunger Games': Celebrities tweet their love

Hunger-Games-trilogy-tweetsImage Credit: Bob Charlotte/PR Photos (2); Jason Kempin/Getty ImagesA few weeks ago, Kristen Bell professed her love for Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy on Twitter. But it seems she’s not the only celeb to give The Hunger Games love in 140 characters or less. Here’s a sample of other celebs who can’t get enough of the books:

Elizabeth Banks: (actress, most recently seen on 30 Rock as Avery Jessup)

  • “MOCKINGJAY!!! Clearing three days of my life to devour this book. 3rd in Hunger Games trilogy. Read these!”

John Gallagher Jr.: (actor, Broadway star of American Idiot)

  • I just finished The Hunger Games and must IMMEDIATELY get to a book store to procure the second entry! Now reading… http://twitpic.com/2cbf0s
  • 1st copy fresh from a just opened shipment box. Thanks Book Court! http://twitpic.com/2ef1nf
  • Finished Catching Fire of the Hunger Games trilogy. Don’t know how most fans of the series waited a whole year for 3rd book.
  • It’s release day for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins! Get your copy today! No I’m not working for the PR team. Just a really big fan/dork.
  • Had to put down Janis Ian for this. 100 pages in. It’s a nail biter! http://twitpic.com/2ipxyz
  • Just landed in LA. I spied several castmates reading The Hunger Games on the plane. It’s spreading!

Jodelle Ferland: (actress, most recently seen in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as Bree)

  • @ZoeyActress Have I read them? Like 5 times! haha Im totally obsessed with them they are AMAZING! Being Katniss would be a dream come true=)
  • Hm….wonder where I could get a bow and arrows…I think I know who I wanna be for Halloween ;)
  • @JoMarie15 I was Gale before…but then I was converted to Peeta after Mockingjay! (gale was a bit of a jerk in it)
  • I got the Mockingjay pin! =) http://twitpic.com/2nl5y4
  • BTW I got my Mockingjay pin at Borders while I was at the airport (it’s US only store) & it’s actually a keychain, gonna turn it into a pin!

Melinda Doolittle:

  • “@SpunkyC 3rd installment of The Hunger Games series!” and “@gavincreel If you like fiction, you should read The Hunger Games! :-)”

And if showing love via Twitter isn’t enough, CBS Style named the trilogy one of this fall’s must-haves to carry around. And at a recent trip to a bookstore, President Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia picked up titles from the trilogy.

Have you read The Hunger Games? And do you know of other celebrities who enjoy the books? Let me know in the comments below.

EW Shelf Life Book Club: 'Mockingjay'

Like many of you, I’ve finished Mockingjay–tearing through it at top speed, just as I did The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. And I have to say that although I loved it, and thought it brought the whole trilogy to a perfect end, I know not everyone does. That’s what this book club will be about–not so much reviewing a particular book, but hashing it out, talking about things we liked and didn’t like, speculating on what an author really meant by a certain plot twist or development. I’m curious to know what all of you think.

So, with that in mind, here’s where I’m at, a few days after finishing Mockingjay. (Anyone who hasn’t finished the book, STOP HERE! There are SPOILERS below.)

There’s a lot out there in the media about the violence and brutality of the book. Sheryl Cotleur, who works for a California bookstore, wrote in an op-ed piece, “It seems to me [the books] go beyond the usual mayhem….Now we have not only children killing children, we have electrocution, drowning, burning, stabbing, being injected by virulent venom and more torture than I can recall in any young adult novel I’ve ever read.” For her part, Collins told Library Journal recently, “One of the reasons it’s important for me to write about war is I really think that the concept of war, the specifics of war, the nature of war, the ethical ambiguities of war are introduced too late to children. I think they can hear them, understand them, know about them, at a much younger age without being scared to death by the stories. It’s not comfortable for us to talk about, so we generally don’t talk about these issues with our kids. But I feel that if the whole concept of war were introduced to kids at an earlier age, we would have better dialogues going on about it, and we would have a fuller understanding.” She also says that she hopes readers will come away from the books with “questions about how elements of the books might be relevant in their own lives. And, if they’re disturbing, what they might do about them.” For my part, I think that yes, the brutality is graphic–it occasionally made me flinch–but I also think Collins would not have been able to make her point about the futility of war unless she described it honestly. And real war isn’t  guts and glory. It’s unspeakably horrible. People (often people you love) go out and kill other people.

So: your thoughts on the violence? Too much for the book? Were you ever bothered by Katniss’ ability to kill ruthlessly? How did you feel about the combat scenes?

I’m reading a lot–mostly on various blogs–about the outcome of the Katniss/Peeta/Gale love triangle. Some readers seem incredibly disappointed that Katniss ended up with Peeta, not Gale, and they think the book ended with a whimper. When I first read it, I thought it was a little flat. But it’s grown on me. For one thing, it’s realistic. In war, even the “winners” don’t really win; they’ve sacrificed so much and seen so much and lost so much. Both Katniss and Peeta are injured (both physically and emotionally) and worn down. In retrospect, Katniss’ quiet resignation in the final pages seems fitting to me. But let’s hear it: Who thought she should have ended up with Gale? Why? What did you all think of the ending itself?

Finally, taking the trilogy as a whole, I’m left not just with Collins’ powerful anti-war message but with an indelible image of Katniss in my head. I honestly think she’s a fictional character for the ages, that these books are going to be around for a long, long, time. You?

Cast your vote: Who should play Katniss (and Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and Effie) in 'The Hunger Games'?

ronan-lovato-dobrev-watsonImage Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos; David Gabber/PR PhotosWhen we asked last week who’d make the perfect Katniss, we got inundated with responses. What’s more, lots of you cast the rest of the books as well. As for myself, I’m still dithering over Katniss since it’s the most critical role (and the one that would be easiest to screw up–get Katniss wrong and none of the movies will work). In my mind’s eye she’s like a young Lisbeth Salander, wiry, dark, and fierce.  Maybe Saoirse Ronan with dark hair? I’m less conflicted when it comes to Peeta (Lucas Till) and Gale (Drew Roy). But I have no idea how to choose among the actors suggested for Haymitch and Effie. In their own way, each one seems pitch-perfect.

So, Hunger Games fans, cast your votes! We’ll put up our results later in the week.

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Kristen Bell professes her love of the 'Hunger Games' trilogy on Twitter

Mockingjay-Kristen-BellImage Credit: Glenn Harris/PR PhotosKristen Bell is drooling and sweating (her words, not mine) over Mockingjay, the third and final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Bell has taken to her verified Twitter account (@IMKristenBell) to profess her love for the novels. “not just ‘a’ hunger games fan. THE hunger games fan. read both books twice & am silently salivating for the 3rd” she tweeted last week. Well, Kristen, ask and you shall receive. Yesterday, she posted a picture of the book, saying “it’s here.”

Twitter isn’t the only outlet Bell is using to talk up the books. In the September issue of SHAPE she said, “It’s a wonderfully engaging story about a young female gladiator. I read the first one in a day — it’s that good.” And she’s even trying to convince her Twitter followers that the books is a must-read: “believe it baby! 2nd time i read it aloud 2 friends & did different voices for each charachter. i am the king of the nerds!” But that’s not all. She shared her thoughts on characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark: “hmm its a hard one. peeta is so damn sweet but i wish he would stick up for himself when katniss is being a straight up biiiitch!” and “but i love katniss. shes a hardened criminal & the symbol of a rebellion. embarrassed to say i wish she would smoooch peeta more!”

What do you think? Is Bell’s love of the trilogy a bit too much or are you right there with her tweeting about how awesome the series is?

'Mockingjay,' by Suzanne Collins: Our first pick in the EW Shelf Life Book Club!

I’ve been wanting to do a book club on EW.com’s Shelf Life blog since it first launched. First, the fact that we’re here together means we share a love of books and enjoy reading and talking about them. But unlike the traditional book club forum, which requires being some place in-person at a designated time regardless of how we felt about the book, here on the Web, you can just skip (or defer) a discussion if you’re bogged down with work, family, Mad Men — or if you flat-out didn’t like what you read that week.

So how will the EW Shelf Life book club work? Each Tuesday we’ll assign a book. You’ll have a week to read it, and then we’ll meet back here the following Tuesday for a discussion — what we liked, what we didn’t, etc. We’ll pick them from a broad range of genres — thrillers, literary fiction, short stories, memoirs — and we’ll also periodically put a future selection to a vote, letting you, the readers, pick what book we tackle next. Some weeks we’ll have the selected book’s author join us, either by taking questions submitted ahead of time here on the blog, or by participating in a live chat discussion.

To kick things off, we’ll talk about Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, which went on sale this morning. It’s a smart, brainy read that straddles the teen and adult fiction worlds, laced with the kinds of issues and questions that make for lively debate. And — maybe the most important of all — it’s just a great story. So crack open your copy of Mockingjay — like you haven’t already! — and join me here next Tuesday, Aug. 31. We won’t have Suzanne Collins (though we’ll mine from an interview we recently did with her) — but there’s still plenty to talk about. And let me know: What kinds of books would you like to see here?


'Mockingjay' review: Spoiler alert!

In Mockingjay, the riveting final installment of her addictively readable postapocalyptic Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins introduces readers to District 13, the underground city that has become the headquarters of the resistance movement. At the center of the impending war with the oppressive Capitol is, of course, Katniss Everdeen, the 17-year old heroine who chooses—despite her reservations—to be the very symbol of the uprising, the Mockingjay. But becoming the face of the rebels’ video propaganda efforts doesn’t come easily, since Katniss doesn’t fully trust their motives. She’s also riddled with guilt, believing that her actions in the previous games led to the destruction of her home and the capture of her ally Peeta. Fans will be happy to hear that Mockingjay is every bit as complex and imaginative as Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Collins has kicked the brutal violence up a notch in an edge-of-your-seat plot that follows Katniss as she tries to fulfill her role, protect her mother and sister and, in the end, finally choose between her two greatest loves. B+

'Mockingjay' gets its first major review, and it's a good one

MockingjayThe third and final book in Suzanne Collins’ popular The Hunger Games series has received its first review. Susan Carpenter of the Los Angeles Times praises Mockingjay, and says that fans of the first two books “aren’t likely to be disappointed.”  Rather than just repeating the elements of her previous works, Carpenter says Collins “takes readers into new territories and an even more brutal and confusing world: one where it’s unclear what sides the characters are on, one where presumed loyalties are repeatedly stood on their head.” She concludes her review with a single word, “Wow,” so it’s safe to assume that Mockingjay’s first major appraisal is a largely positive one.

Fans of the series, does this make you even more excited for the book’s release? Is anyone planning on picking it up immediately when it comes out tomorrow at 12:01 a.m.?

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