When I first heard about "The Hunger Games," it was when I learned a studio was making it into a big movie. I'm not too plugged in to the young adult fiction scene. I quickly learned they were pretty popular, but I also saw a lot of comparisons with Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series.
Suffice it to say, my interest was not perked.
In recent months I've had trusted friends and co-workers tell me how good the series is, but I chose to follow my own rules here: If I can, I'll always choose to watch the movie first before reading the book.
Because we all know the movie is rarely better than the book. There have only been a few exceptions to the rule. One happens to be among my favorites: David Fincher's "Fight Club," based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Even the author has conceded that the movie is better than his book.
So I find that if I watch the movie first I'm rarely disappointed. I have no standard with which to measure it other than its own merits. A movie shouldn't have to live up to a book because they're completely different mediums. The sign of a truly good movie is whether it holds up on its own.
Since movies have to leave out or even sometimes change portions of the source material, I find reading the book after seeing the movie no less satisfying because there's still more meat there. There's nothing missing, usually. It's just extra.
I personally found "The Hunger Games" to be completely engrossing, even though I'm told that "there's so much more of (fill in the blank here) in the book." I don't have any of those problems with the film because I went in with no expectations.
The opposite thing happened with Steig Larsson's "Millennium" series. I had read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" before seeing both the Swedish and American versions of the film, and left both movies somewhat disappointed. I won't make that mistake again with the last two books in that series.
Have you had similar experiences? And can you think of any movies that were better than the books on which they're based?