It was quite some time ago since I have finished reading the entire Hunger Games trilogy. Overall, I have enjoyed the book series immensely. It was one of those books I could not put down. Any time I wasn’t reading it, I became eager to read the next part as soon as I wasn’t at work or doing something else. The series also left me thinking about a lot of things, including how it ended. I will be reviewing the book series as a whole with as little spoilers as possible, and maybe follow it up with future analysis posts on characters and themes.
If any of you aren’t aware of the book series or the film it is based on by now, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins revolves around a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in a dystopian nation known as Panem, where the country has been divided into districts. The district Katniss and her family belong to is the coal mining district known as District 12.
Ever since Katniss’s father passes away from a coal mining accident and her mother becomes crippled with grief from the tragedy, Katniss takes on the role of head of the household and the supplier of their food. She takes care of her younger sister Prim and sneaks out to the woods with her childhood friend Gale Hawthorne to hunt for game in what is considered Capitol territory, the governing body of all the districts. Katniss and Gale are in similar situations where they are caring for a family they seek to protect at all costs, and dread the day where one of their names could be called to take part in the cruel and bloody sport known as the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games pit each district against each other where only one can win and return home.
When Reaping Day arrives, a day of selection for one boy and girl to represent their respective district in the games, Katniss’s worst nightmare comes true––Prim is selected to participate in the Hunger Games. In a desperate bid to save her sister, Katniss volunteers herself to take Prim’s place for the games. With Katniss replacing her sister and Peeta Mellark taking his place as the male tribute representative for District 12, so begins the two’s long and deadly journey to the games.
How do I best describe the experience of reading these three books? It’s gripping with plenty of surprises and some twists thrown in for good measure. Collins doesn’t pick favorites when it comes to who lives and dies. Just about anyone can go at any second, and it hurts even more when you get attached to any of the characters you meet.
Plenty of moral questions and dilemmas are raised when you see Katniss and the other characters struggling with who they can trust, should alliances be forged or broken, and what to do when the grim reality of doing what is necessary to come out the winner gets slapped back into your face.
The love triangle between Peeta, Katniss, and Gale tends to heat up at times, and oftentimes makes you wonder who Katniss loves most. Team Peeta or Team Gale, anyone? Her feelings for the two guys in her life leaves Katniss very confused. For a teenage girl who has to battle for the chance to survive and to keep her family safe from the Capitol’s ruthless and sadistic leader President Snow, finding the time to really sort out her feelings for Peeta and Gale is the last thing on her mind.
The first book introduces the reader to the games and how Katniss unintentionally defies everything the Capitol, the districts, and games stands for to spark a spirit of rebellion. The second book is Katniss’s attempt to quell what she had started in the first book, but the prospect of fighting back against the Capitol has unfortunately caught fire as the title of the second book Catching Fire is aptly named. And in the third and final book Mockingjay, Katniss tries to live up to being the symbol of the resistance while dealing with both sides of the divide, the Capitol and the rebellion leaders in the districts, doing everything they can to control her actions at every turn to manipulate the odds in their favor.
Collins throws a lot at her readers, and reading the book almost feels like running a never ending marathon. There are moments of quiet calm in the books, but like Katniss, we know it can’t last or it can’t be trusted.
As I have mentioned before, I really enjoyed reading this trilogy. I was captivated and swept up in the same way when I read the entire Harry Potter series. The first book in The Hunger Games trilogy is still my favorite one by far, but I did enjoy the second book just as much. The third book is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I did like where Collins took her characters in the final book, but closer to the end something fell a little flat. I do feel she rushed a good portion of the ending, and there were certain major events in the book she could have explained better or elaborated on. The last few pages felt pretty chaotic in a mad dash to tie everything together. In spite of all that, the trilogy is worth a read if you enjoy having a strong female character in the lead and want a book series that will make you chew on heavy topics such as poverty, war, and moral conflicts long after you have turned the last page in the book.
Reviewer Rating: 9.5/10