The Hunger games Trilogy is composed of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. It’s written by Suzanne Collins.
In late December, I saw a few trailers for The Hunger Games movie. It looked interesting, I showed the trailer to my wife, and she bought the first book for her birthday shopping spree. Being a mean husband, I read it before she did. I immediately wanted the next two.
It’s an almost standard Post Apocalyptic Utopian Science Fiction. Set in a not so distant future where humanity has almost destroyed itself. You can easily see influences from multiple sources in her books. A little Greek myth, a little fantasy, and a strong dose of war fiction.
I decided to review the series as a whole since it felt more like one large book rather than three and I would be saying the same in all of the reviews anyways.
There is a multitude of characters throughout the three books. Each with varying importance but the author gives you the impression that they have fully fleshed out backstories. Not only do you feel each character has their whole life written out, the author makes you wish you could follow them and see their stories.
That’s not to say that the main character, Katniss Everdeen, ever gets boring. She’s a strong but young girl thrown from one duplicitous situation to another. If there’s any criticism about Katniss, it’s that she’s too real. She’s not a hero, she’s just a girl. When Harry Potter, or Frodo would complain and bitch but keep going, Katniss breaks down and cries.
As much as I wanted Katniss to get up, grab a bow, and shoot everything evil, it was a nice change to have a character that was genuinely traumatized by the crap she’s survived. Possibly the most intense part of the series was being right there with her and feeling every single moment. There were times I put down the book and wanted to cry but never did I want to stop reading.
The secondary characters are all as engrossing and as much as I enjoyed the epilogue. I could have used another hundred pages telling me what happened to each minor character.
I give the series a 5 out of 5 for characters. When I wish I could know what happened to a character mentioned only once or twice in a book, I have to acknowledge the authors skill.
I have to start out by giving Suzanne Collins credit for writing in the First Person Present Tense. First person is hard enough when written in the past tense but written in the present tense it’s extremely challenging.(Remember all this is my opinion based off of my experience writing.)
One of the great advantages of the first person present tense is tension. If someone is speaking in the past tense then you can assume they are still alive but with the present tense, there’s more urgency and fear.
In order to allow the reader to make their own conclusions Collins let’s Katniss describe an event and then later draw conclusions. This often leads to the reader knowing something way before the protagonist has even considered it.
As far as story structure goes the books, and the series, follow a three act formula. I think this forces Collins to force the story into the mould. There are parts that drag a little and some that seem rushed in order to fit into the three acts.
Another criticism would be how rushed some of her actions scenes feel. There is one extremely important action scene at the end of the last book, which takes up two or three lines. The scene is so shocking that I had to reread it several time before I understood it.
For writing style, I give the series a 3 out of 5. It’s very good but has some structure weaknesses.
I’ve heard every comparison about this series with other arena-style books or movies. They’re full of it. This has a lot more in common with Utopian/dystopian fiction. I see a little Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, etc. It also has many similarities to a standard hero’s journey. Despite the protagonist not being a true hero.
I keep asking myself was this a good story? And my answer is both yes and no. If your definition of a good story is something that both touches you and scars you for life, than yes. If your definition of a good story is something that touches you and makes you happy, than no.
This is a poignant and heartwrenching series that will stick with you long after you’ve read it.
I give it a 4 out of 5 for story.
As much as I wanted to keep reading this series, I can’t call it fun. It’s painful, sad, shocking, and depressing.
I posted that I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry after finishing it and I think many people reading it would agree.
This category’s score reflects my joy while reading. I really like being happy when I finish a book for this reason I give it a 2 out of 5 for fun. I would give it a 1 but the pain is essential to the story and not just there for its own sake.
It’s a great series that I admire the style and story but will most likely never read again.
I’d only recommend reading it to someone who is emotionally stable and with the warning that it will twist your heart and rip it out of your chest.
Overall, like I’ve said, great but it’s score is low from my emphasis on fun. I give it a 70%