I’ve thought and thought about how I wanted to talk about The Hunger Games trilogy, and I just can’t seem to settle on anything over than going over them as a set. I don’t want to review each book separately, exactly… but I instead want to talk about each as a part of the entire, emotional-distress-triggering story that Suzanne Collins wrote. So here we are.
Like nearly everyone else in 2012, I saw the first Hunger Games movie when it came out. It was fine, but I never got pulled into the trilogy and I never watched the following three movie adaptions (if you’re a fan then you probably know that they took the Twilight route and made the last book into two movies). My sister, however, became intrigued by the book series and read them all. Over and over again. For like a year.
Still, I never committed to them until now and I have an insane amount of mixed feelings. Let’s talk about them.
I won’t be adding the synopsis and additional info for each, just because this post could likely be it’s own novel honestly, but the titles will be linked back to their Goodreads pages if you’d like to check them out further. Also, I may ramble a bit as I’m not following the usual review format since I’m talking about all three books at once, so please just bare with me. Also, please prepare for spoilers from all three books.
I loved this story. All of it. From the very first book, Suzanne Collins pulled me into this terrifying dystopian world that her (seriously imaginative) mind created and I couldn’t get out of it.
The Hunger Games was the perfect first book. Before going into it, I was a little worried about the narrative. On screen, Katniss is very guarded and her mind is hard to penetrate. I was worried that this reflected from the book and that I would find it hard to get a hold on who she really was. However, this was not the case. Very early on I noted that the writing was really simple but good. It wasn’t hard to understand and while Katniss is definitely still a slow-to-trust person on the outside, her inner person was relatable and fun for the narrative. Sure, she’s not always entirely likable, but I tend to be pulled more to these type of main characters anyways.
The first book really sets the precedent for what readers are going to be taking in for the remainder of the series. Collins is very descriptive in her story telling but I found that she’s also really skilled in sharing just enough with her readers. This way there is always more to share in the following two books. All of the important characters were developed extremely well for there to be so many. I usually can be appeased with the character development of the MC, the love interest, and an extra character or two, but even Haymitch and Effie are given details that I didn’t fully expect to receive. The first installment was riveting, since it’s main focus is the action taking place in the arena.
The whole idea of the actual Hunger Games reminds me so much of the tale, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It’s quite a bit different, of course, but the premise is similar: forcing citizens to kill other citizens as a way of reminding them who truly holds the power. This story was packed full with combat, but the emotion is really what pulls you in. The undeniable connections that Katniss makes with Rue and Peeta are what appealed most to me. Honestly, besides the obvious hatred toward the capitol for making literal children take part in such a barbaric thing, I hated absolutely nothing about this story.
Now, the second book gave me some annoyances. So many people have told me that Catching Fire was their favorite, and to each it’s own, but I think it was probably my least favorite. I think that since I knew that this book was the halfway point, I expected the climax to really take off here. Instead, it felt super repetitive to me. It wasn’t the same as the first, obviously, but putting the victors back into the arena was a bit frustrating for me. Granted, the circumstances were quite different. The arena was different, the competitors were different, the amount of the book spent on the game was different. So I tried not to hold it against the story as a whole.
And since I did that, I still really liked the book, but it was very much a transitional one for me. Like… here’s how we get from point A to point B, if that makes sense. I know that the Quarter Quell forcing victors back into the arena was a huge turning point for the rebellion and I get this it was necessary. And whereas I felt like we got a lot of new information in Catching Fire, not as much happened. The book actually goes by pretty fast since Collins is attempting to get readers through an entire years worth. The beginning focuses heavily on the Victor Tour where Katniss and Peeta witness some of the uprising going on throughout the districts, and then they are thrown back into fighting for their lives. Or, each other’s lives, should I say.
My biggest issue with the book isn’t really an issue, per se, but it annoyed me. I’m not huge on love triangles. I know that some stories find use for them, and it definitely worked to explain a lot of Katniss’s motives, but I would’ve been fine if Gale really was Katniss’s cousin. I mean, I was routing for Peeta from day one, frankly. And I think that Katniss could’ve still wanted to protect Gale even without him having to be a possible love interest. The love triangle didn’t ruin the story for me, of course, but I could’ve gone without it.
Now… Mockingjay absolutely messed me up. I was unprepared. This was definitely my favorite book out of the whole series. I feel like it offered the most, truly. I think finally transitioning into the actual war was made it my favorite. Everything going on with the fighting, the loss, the emotions, etc. felt like finally getting a glass of water after you’ve been dehydrated for too long. We all knew it was coming but it had merely been building up to war in the past two books. In Mockingjay, readers finally get to see what’s really going down.
I think that the most fun part about finally getting some insight into the actual rebellion is getting to learn everything that’s been hidden from Katniss up to that point. For instance, figuring out who was on the rebellion’s side in the capitol the entire time and who’s truly an evil person. It’s also interesting to learn about District 13 since in books one and two we knew so little, and what we did know was false.
What was hard about this book, however, was that Katniss has become so broken down after all that has happened to her that you begin to feel sad yourself. I mean, how could you not!? For such a big chunk of the book Katniss hates and blames herself for everything that has gone wrong when she’s really only been used as a pawn. District 13 might come off as trying to help the other districts but I think the president’s motives were much more selfish. They just had to wait for the right time, when the other districts had reached their limits for what they would put up with from the capitol, so that they had the perfect opportunity to take control.
On that note, it makes me sad to know that readers will never get any further insight into what happened to the districts under the new rulings. With the mention of yet another Hunger Games (UHM KATNISS DID YOU SERIOUSLY AGREE TO TORTURE OTHER CHILDREN AFTER ALL YOU’VE BEEN THROUGH!?!?!), I get the feeling that the rebellion will bring on less change than was hoped for. I’m glad to see the District 13 president go (finally, Katniss, you do something that makes sense), but I wish Suzanne Collins would’ve included a little more about how things are run after the capitol was taken over.
The plot line with Peeta wasn’t one that I was expecting, but it was really interesting. Being a part of hashtag team Peeta means that I was rather saddened by the course of their relationship this time around, but I’m so glad that Peeta and Katniss make their way back to each other. However, I would’ve liked some closure with the Gale situation (you made us read three books worth of a love triangle but couldn’t give us some closure??).
My BIGGEST issue with this book was the death of Prim. Was that really necessary!? I guess it’s some kind of sad irony that Katniss got where she was because she was trying to save Prim but in the end it didn’t matter anyway. It started with Prim, it ended with Prim. I get the shock factor, I really do. I just wasn’t prepared for it ):
Overall, I really loved this series. It’s such a entrancing world to be pulled in to and Katniss was the perfect character to get to read from. I’m so glad I finally took a chance and picked this series up!
If you stuck around this long, thank you! It really turned out to be a long post. In my defense though, there were three books… and I had a lot of thoughts.
- The Hunger Games : 4.5 stars
- Catching Fire: 4 stars
- Mockingjay: 5 stars