I watched the film recently and it was superb. A dark-future tale which was terrifying, gripping and moving.
Usually I read the books before I watch the film. There have been a few exceptions to this, times when a film as been so inspiring that I felt compelled to seek out the book. Harry Potter was one. No Country for Old Men another; I have to thank the film for encouraging me to read the wonderful work of Cormac McCarthy. Universally I have found the book to be better than the film- deeper, richer a more filling and satisfying dish.
Hunger Games is no exception. Stephen King apparently said of the Hunger Games that it is very good but lacks maturity in parts. I agree (it's hard not to agree with King about literature) but I think the lack of maturity is acceptable because the narrative is in the first person of Katniss and she is a young girl with very limited world-experience. Have the narrative voice be most first person and naive allows us to see the world through Katniss's eyes yet at the same time recognise the difficulties she is making for herself in the wider context of the political landscape in panem,
I don't do spoilers so I won't be going into any more detail about the plot than that.
The characters are a little bit hit and miss. Haymitch and Katniss are wonderful on the heroes side. The grotesque pictures of the citizens of the capitol are disturbingly grotesques. I see them all as being people direct from Jean-Paul Gauliers' damaged imagination. The exception being Cinna who has a degree of humanity not afforded to the others. Effie is the least satisfying character, especially early on, as she is routinely exposed to the hardships of the districts yet keeps the capitol superficiality. Peeta is too good to be true in the world they find themselves in. The rationale that he always had food isn't enough for him to have risen that far above the rest morally.
President Snow is the most interesting character. He is as menacing as an literary character in recent years. His ability to menace and charm at the same time is a delight.
I think everybody should read the hunger games. They read a little like Harry Potter with teeth,