I’ll openly admit that I’m one of those “the book was better” people. I tore through all of The Hunger Games books as soon as they were released and loved the story. Although I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence‘s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen and loved seeing the action scenes play out before my eyes, I have to say it again: the books were better. In fact, I was disappointed by the movies in a lot of ways.
One of the biggest factors I missed in the films were characters that were completely left out. These scrapped characters may not have been leading players like Katniss, Peeta, or Gale, but their parts led to complexities that made the books far more interesting than the movies. Check out some of the forgotten book characters of Panem below.
1. Madge Undersee
Madge was the daughter of the mayor of District 12 and Katniss’ friend from school. In the books, it was she who gave Katniss the iconic Mockingjay pin before she went to the Hunger Games – not Prim. I’ll admit that Prim giving Katniss the pin carried more weight. However, Madge came into play later in the series when Katniss gets her first hint of the rebellion happening from the mayor’s television while visiting Madge’s house (their TV had access to more news channels). She may have been a minor player, but it was definitely nice to see Katniss have a female friend. Madge also offered a different perspective on lifestyles in the districts – she didn’t have as high a risk of entering the Hunger Games because her father was wealthy, meaning she didn’t have to put in her name extra times to receive tesserae (extra food).
2. Maysilee Donner
Maysilee was totally absent in the film but played a major role in Haymitch’s backstory. As we know, Haymitch was a tribute in the 50th Hunger Games. In the Catching Fire book, Katniss and Peeta come across footage of Haymitch as a teen competing in the second Quarter Quell as they prepare for the third Quarter Quell. Maysilee was the other District 12 tribute, and she formed an alliance with Haymitch. To make things even more interesting, Maysilee was the best friend of Katniss’ mother, the aunt of Madge, and the original owner of the Mockingjay pin.
To be honest, the flashback to Haymitch competing in his Hunger Games was one of the most intriguing parts in the books that I so wish they had included in the books. I won’t spoil what happens to her, but she’s definitely a big part in rounding out Haymitch’s character.
3, 4 & 5. Octavia, Flavius, and Venia
These three colorful characters made up Katniss’ glam squad, backing up Cinna when it came to making Katniss camera-ready in the Capitol. Although Cinna’s relationship with Katniss was definitely the point of focus, the prep team helped paint a picture of what was considered “beautiful” in the Capitol and provided extra support for Katniss. In Catching Fire, the prep teams of each tribute met a tragic fate after President Snow ordered them to be killed following the tributes holding hands after the interviews. Peeta’s prep team was even executed on live TV while he was watching. Luckily, Octavia, Flavius, and Venia were saved by the rebels.
6. Lavinia, The Avox Girl
During her training period in the Capitol, Katniss notices a redheaded Avox, which is a person who has had their tongue cut out for punishment, named Lavinia. Katniss remembers seeing the girl in the forest surrounding District 12 while she was hunting with Gale. The Avox was with another boy, and they seemed to be escaping from the Capitol. The boy was killed by a harpoon to the chest while the girl was caught in a net dropped from a hovercraft.
In the films, Avoxes were introduced through Pollux, one of Katniss’ cameramen in Mockingjay.
7 & 8. Bonnie and Twill
In Catching Fire, Katniss meets two women named Bonnie and Twill in the woods outside District 12. They had escaped District 8 during an uprising that killed their families and were headed to District 13, which they believed to still be in existence and home to people who support the rebellion against the Capitol. Their fates are never fully disclosed, but Bonnie and Twill were the first indication that District 13 might not be gone. It also makes Katniss consider running away to find District 13 when she learns she’ll have to return to the Hunger Games.
Apparently these two characters were removed from the movie adaptation because filmmakers did not want to spoil the plot of Mockingjay for those who hadn’t read the books.
Filming on The Hunger Games may be wrapped, but fans can delve deeper into Panem, character’s backstories, and cut scenes by reading (or re-reading) the books!