Before the year was over, the Bird was able to borrow the trilogy of Hunger Games books (Hunger Games, Catching Fire and The Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins and tear through them as ravenously as a miner in District 12. The Magpie's been returning to the world of fiction again, jumping from different authors, and this one was one of the better young adult series that I had the pleasure of reading (I refuse to jump on the Twilight bandwagon, sorry teen-angst vamp fans).
Throughout the year, I hopped from authors ranging from Kazuo Ishiguro (When We Were Orphans), to William Gibson (Pattern Recognition), loving each book for their own merits, but I particuarly liked this series because given its intent towards younger readers, I felt like this was a good tale to be shared by adults and teens alike about the hard life lessons of war and desperation. Collins writes with affection for her characters, so you can't help but get drawn into their struggles in a bleak future where food is scarce and to control the population and keep the district-separated colonies of people from rebelling against their Capitol overseers, brutal games are held with much fanfare, where the youth are picked at random and then forced to fight to the death, but in a televised, discomforting reality-TV manner. It's a little hard to describe the overall storyline through all three of Collins' books, but it contains messages of survival, protection of family, and the power of choice. The heroes are troubled souls and the villains aren't always what you think. The situations are more complex than a Team Edward vs Team Jacob love triangle, where in the end, all you hope for is a little bit of peace for each favorite character.
So of course because the book series is wildly popular, I hear a movie is coming out. I have no idea if it's been cast, but when I read books whose storytelling lends itself well to a cinematic style (and the action is INTENSE in these books), I'll picture actors playing out the scenes from the book in my head. These were some of the people who came to mind for some of the key characters. Clearly I don't visit the fanboy/girl message boards for these books; the superfans may already have actors in their minds, but these were the ones running around in my head, avoiding tracker jackers, enjoying lamb stew with dried plums, or humming the forbidden song about the Hanging Tree.
I envisioned Lyndsey Fonseca (pictured top right) from the Nikita television series as the reluctant rebel, Katniss Everdeen. Risking it being too on-the-nose, I couldn't help but envision a less-sparkly, more shy-smiled/Harry Potter-aged Robert Pattinson (pictured below Fonseca, not that you don't know who he is) as the sensitive and thoughtful baker's son, Peeta Mellark. Russell Crowe (pictured bottom row, second from left) plays heavy, rip-roaring drunk with such aplomb, and has the stature of an old warrior, so I saw him as the pickled, but wily ex-Tribute Haymitch Abernathy. I think Sam Neill (pictured bottom row, corner left) plays a fine villain (he was the Devil's son in Omen II, after all), so I saw him as the creepy blood-breathed President Coriolanus Snow. I pictured Gary Oldman as the creative mind behind the Games, Plutarch Heavensbee (love that name). Maybe it's too much Queer Eye rerun-watching, but I totally pictured actual hairstylist Kyan Douglas as Cinna, the stylist wielding the power of fashion to cause a rebellious uproar. I think Brad Pitt (pictured bottom row, second from right) would do well as the superstar ex-Tribute and sex symbol, Finnick Odair -- it would be fun to see dueling heartthrobs Pitt and Pattinson playing out their frustrations as characters who face the same eye-candy status. And I love Saoirse Ronan's (pictured bottom row, right corner) talent for playing such old-soul youths; she would be perfect as Katniss's younger sister Prim, who Katniss risks everything for. The characters I had the hardest time picturing in my head were probably two of the most important ones -- the soulful Rue from from District 11 and Gale Hawthorne, the potential love interest with a fiery heart. I actually have several more casting ideas, but it would kind of spoil things to list them, so I'm purposely leaving some of my actor choices out.
What about you, Hunger Games book fans -- if you could select a dream cast of actors you think would play these characters, who would you pick?
Jaunty Fine Print: images from IMDB.com