Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hunger Games: Book vs. Movie

**Warning: This post contains spoilers about both the book and movie adaptation of The Hunger Games! Proceed with caution!**

We say it so often that it's become a cliche: "I enjoyed the movie, but the book was so much better!"

Although books and movies each have their own set of pros and cons, we can't help but be disappointed when we feel that the movie adaptation of a beloved book fails to live up to our expectations (though that rarely stops us from excitedly buying tickets to the movie anyway!).

Suzanne Collins' hit series The Hunger Games is perhaps the best loved young adult series this side of Twilight. The film adaptation of the first in the series broke records this weekend, raking in over $150 million dollars in the United States. Below, I break down the differences between the book and the movie to show each medium's advantages and disadvantages. Once again, this post is rife with spoilers!

Life in District 12

Book: Collins spends a significant portion of the first third of the book detailing the coal-rich, impoverished district that is Katniss Everdeen's home. The griminess and starvation of the majority of the residents is palpable on the page, and Collins takes her time describing Katniss' daily life: her relationship with her mother and sister, her friendship with fellow hunter Gale, her illicit trading at The Hob, and the differences between the wealthier residents of District 12 and the starving poor.

Movie: The film envisions District 12 as similar to Depression Era United States: women in plain, practical dresses, men going off the coal mine, etc. And although the film conveys the poverty of District 12, I didn't get the sense of absolute desperation that I got from the books--the fact that an illness or injury that leaves you unable to work might mean imminent starvation for your entire family. Seeing District 12 onscreen was thrilling, no doubt, but it was surely whitewashed from the horrors conjured up by Collins.

Point: Book

Katniss' Thoughts and Psychological Process

Book: The book is written from Katniss' point of view, which gives the reader plenty of insight into her thoughts and feelings. We see everything from her growing anger at The Capitol over the indignity of the Games, to her mixed feelings toward Peeta. In the book, for example, Katniss believes Peeta's romantic feelings for her are entirely a strategy for winning sponsors and thus, the Games. Her feelings toward Peeta change and evolve over the book, ranging from annoyance, to distrust, to betrayal, to affection.

Movie: The filmmakers wisely stay away from using voice overs (I am not a fan of voice overs in movies generally) to convey Katniss' thoughts. Instead, the movie focuses on action and plot points, rather than Katniss' psychological state at any given moment. This definitely takes something away from the emotional experience of reading the books and seeing Katniss transform. However, Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss in the movie, does an excellent job of conveying terror, suspicion, and in some cases, love (especially for little Rue).

Point: Book, although the film is definitely helped by Lawrence's excellent performance.

Secondary Characters

Book: Although Katniss and Peeta are the main characters, Collins' novel is filled with colorful (literally!) supporting characters, such as drunken mentor Haymitch Abernathy, perky District 12 escort Effie Trinket, and TV personality Caesar Flickerman. The supporting characters often provide comic relief in the book, and either serve as mentors and helpers to Katniss, or, in the case of the other Tributes, adversaries.

Movie: This is one area where the movie really succeeded. The supporting characters in the film adaptation are perfectly cast and light up the screen. I was especially impressed by Stanley Tucci's performance as the gregarious Caesar Flickerman and Lenny Kravitz's (yes, him!) performance as Katniss' wonderful, warm stylist Cinna. The supporting characters are excellent foils to Katniss and Peeta (who, being from District 12 and in constant danger of dying during the Games, are often introverted and grave). They bring humor, color, and fun to an otherwise (understandably) grim tale.

Point: Movie

The Actual Hunger Games 

Book: One thing the book dwells on is how hungry and thirsty Katniss is and how much time she spends looking for food during the Games. This detail is taken for granted in the film, which focuses on more exciting (and violent) action sequences. But the suffering Katniss endures during the Games is so much more intense in the books. Additionally, the descriptions of the terrifying obstacles the Gamemakers place in the Games, such as the Tracker Jacker wasps and the Muttations at the very end are so much scarier in the book than on the silver screen.

Movie: The film faithfully adapts all the major deaths and occurrences from the Hunger Games, from Rue's death to Katniss blowing up the other Tributes' food. But even on the big screen the terror and excitement I felt while reading the book was never fully replicated. This is especially true at the end when Katniss, Peeta, and Cato are chased by the Muttations. In the book, these werewolf-like creatures are genetically engineered to resemble the fallen Tributes, making the attack all the more psychologically horrifying. In the film, they're still scary, but not quite to the same extent.

Point: Book

Take away: The Hunger Games movie is a great film and is very faithful to Collins' novel. I will definitely see the second and third movies when they come out and am looking forward to seeing Katniss' budding revolutionary tendencies and love triangle with Gale and Peeta unfold on the big screen. However, there is no substitute for the power of imagination while reading a novel. On the page, everything was more intense: sadder, gorier, grimier, scarier, more emotional. While the film is entertaining and fun, Collins' dystopic novel (the first in a trilogy) is the far more satisfying pop culture snack.

Find the books at Vise Library!

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay are all available in our Juvenile Collection. Ask a librarian to help you find them!

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012-13 iRead selection

The 2012-13 iRead selection is...

(drumroll please)

Our Patchwork Nation by Dante Chinni!

The description calls it a "proactive counterargument to the blue/red divide that illuminates our country's multidimensional political spectrum." This book is a timely choice duing the Presidential election season and will help readers see that politics consists of more than being in a "red state" or "blue state".

Chinni, along with political geographer James Gimpel, has divided the nation into twelve distinct community types, such as Boom Towns and Tractor Country. The book shows the differences in Americans' shopping, voting, and behavior patterns.

Library staff hopes to be able to bring the author to campus during the Fall 2012 semester to discuss his book. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

App of the Month...iRecycle

It seems like everywhere you look businesses, schools, etc are trying to be more environmentally conscious. Even Cumberland is trying to improve its carbon footprint by placing recycle bins throughout campus. However, if you do not live on campus it can sometimes be difficult to find places to recycle. This installment of "App of the Month" helps with finding different recycling locations (wherever you are, and whatever you have to recycle!) with iRecycle!

Let's say you are wanting to find out where you can recycle all of the cereal boxes that you have collected over the semester.  To get started when you open the app your screen will look like this:

You will notice that the next screen has quite a few options available. It has everything from cars to hazardous materials to everyday household items available as options to recycle. Since cereal boxes are paper - that's what we will select.

The next page shows all of the paper categories that are available for recycling.  They are arranged alphabetically to make it easy to find.  Cereal boxes are near the top of this list (if you do not see exactly the item you are looking for, you can click a similar item).

This app will then find any location around you that allows for recycling of the item (or items!) that you are wanting to recycle.  It will show the location closest to you.

Once you select the location that is closest to you, the screen will show you a lot of information about the recycling place.  It will show their address (which is really important!), phone number, hours of operation, if there are any restrictions, etc.

This app is also great for finding articles that deal with recycling, diy crafts, etc.

If you aren't convinced that recycling paper or cereal boxes makes a difference, read some of these facts (from 
BulletRecycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
BulletIf all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
BulletIf every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
BulletIf you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you'd get about 700 of them. A busy supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket can go through over 6 million paper bags! Imagine how many supermarkets there are just in the United States!!!
BulletThe average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
BulletThe amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
BulletApproximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
BulletAmericans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
BulletThe average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
BulletIn 1993, U.S. paper recovery saved more than 90,000,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
BulletEach ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
BulletThe 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
BulletThe construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.

 There are tons of places to recycle just in the Cumberland University area, so imagine the possibilities of recycling while you are away from home.   Hopefully this app of the month helps you become more aware about how easy it is to recycle and what a difference you can make by recycling!