The Hunger Games Trilogy

Genre: YA Dystopian

Here I am to review The Hunger Games Trilogy, about a decade behind everyone else! 😉 In my defense, I was like nine or ten when the first book came out.

OKAY. There’s a lot to unwrap in this review. I technically read The Hunger Games back in 2018, after buying it circa 2016/2017. I could not get into the first book for the life of me, but I told myself I needed to push through because these books have shaped society and culture and YA readers. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year (2020) that I managed to get through the other two books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. And guys, I was pleasantly surprised. On that note, I’ll hop right in…

THE HUNGER GAMES

“In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”

Like I mentioned above, this book was a struggle to get through. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I despised Katniss, and I feel like that’s the reason it took me so long. The world was intriguing, the arena more so. But Katniss was the literal bane of my existence. She was stale and coarse, and I did not connect with her at all. But I told myself I needed to keep pushing through, and even though it took me awhile, I did. Really, once Katniss and Peeta joined as a team again, that’s when I felt like things really picked up for me. Peeta is my favorite character, I’m not going to lie, and he provided a NEEDED relief to Katniss’ stale personality.

In the end, I did give this book 4-stars and I decided I was going to eventually read the rest of the series. 4-stars because of the world, and for Peeta, and for Suzanne Collins cracking open the dystopian genre once more so authors like me could come along down the road and have a foundation to build on. I do owe her much for that.

CATCHING FIRE

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.”

Here’s where my Hunger Games reading story takes a massive turn. I actually started Catching Fire THREE separate times before I got through it. And I always stopped in the same exact spot. At the time of reading this book, one of the things that stuck out like a sore thumb was Katniss’ utter disability to have a conversation with either Gale or Peeta about her feelings. Each time I tried reading this book, I could not get past the fact that all of the characters were acting like toddlers — not talking through their problems, throwing tantrums when they didn’t get their way. At the time, I was in a long distance relationship with my now-husband, and I just remember feeling so fed up with how the characters were acting. “I’m in a long distance relationship and I’m actually making it work,” I thought. “And yet three characters who see each other every single day can’t carry on a normal, mature conversation???”

In truth, it almost ruined my entire Hunger Games reading experience, and I had all but decided I wasn’t going to finish. Cue me watching the movies with my husband in 2019 and deciding that I loved the movies so much that I was willing to give the books another try…

I knew my frustrations were with the first half of Catching Fire; that’s always where I stopped reading. So I decided to just skip that part and get right to where Peeta and Katniss get back to the Capitol for the Quarter Quell. And THIS is where I was pleasantly surprised, friends — I absolutely DEVOURED the last half of this book! Once they were in the Capitol, the action picked up, the characters started acting more human and realistic (even Katniss!), and the arena definitely became my favorite. Also, Finnick is kind of swoon-worthy. I read the last half of this book within a couple of days, max!

Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end since I watched the movies, the end of Catching Fire still gave me chills and solidified my decision to finish reading the series. 3.5-stars, and the reason the rating is lower than book one is simply because I still can’t deal with the first half of the book. Sorry, guys.

MOCKINGJAY

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.”

Truth be told, I was really nervous going into this book, because the Mockingjay movies are my favorite of the trilogy. I wanted the book to be just as good.

I read this book much slower than Catching Fire, and there were equally parts that I enjoyed and parts where I wanted to bang my head on the wall. Once the action started, this book was really good and held my interest. But the keyword there is “once.” The beginning was horribly slow and kind of dull. It definitely makes sense that Katniss is depressed and has PTSD from everything she’s been put through, and I appreciate Collins for incorporating that. But I, personally, didn’t feel like it was done well. (That being said, it feels so much more raw and emotional in the movie than in the book, so maybe that’s where I’m coming from?) I really, really enjoyed seeing Katniss figure out her relationship with the other remaining victors and with Peeta. It really wasn’t until this book that Katniss started to feel human for me while reading, so it was a welcome relief from her coarse attitude in the first two books.

All of that said, there were two major issues I had with the conclusion of The Hunger Games Trilogy: 1) the needless character deaths. I won’t spoil them if you haven’t read the series yet, but I’m a firm believer that if a character must die, it needs to be for a reason, whether that’s to spur the plot along or help with a character arc or what have you. Simply, there needs to be a good reason. And there wasn’t. The deaths were included for shock effect, or even for the “this is war so of course there will be casualties” mindset. It was very discouraging. 2) The ending chapter. I was a little disappointed with the ending, to be honest; but I was also disappointed with the same ending in the movie as well. I can’t really tell you why, because it’s bittersweet and I LOVE bittersweet endings. But it just felt unfinished. Maybe it’s because we never really know what happens to the other characters that survive, or perhaps it’s because it’s more in summary form.

3.5-stars to round out the last book in this series.

I know there’s a lot of conflicting views here with this series… We’re all entitled to our own opinions, and I’m not looking to pick any fights. For an example, my mom LOVES this book series and the movies! The books just ended up not really being “my thing.” *shrugs*

All of that said, I am very, very glad that I decided to read through them. There’s a lot more references that I can get now, and I can connect with other readers who have read this series. In the meantime, I’m afraid we’ll all just have to deal with the fact that I’m “that person” who enjoys the movies 100x better than the books. *laughs*

Have you read The Hunger Games? Who was your favorite and least favorite character? Your favorite and least favorite book in the series?

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