I read The Hunger Games trilogy a few months ago (the exact date eludes me). It’s well worth reading especially if you want a future take on what gladiator games in a post-apocalyptic United States might look like. There was little if anything bad I could say about it.
Warning: There may be a one or three spoilers below.
What Did I Think Was Great?
This is a story about a girl who takes the place of her sister in a barbaric survival game and ends up becoming the symbol of a revolution against an oppressive government. That’s the story in a nutshell and I was glad it wasn’t another orphan-to-hero story that I often read about.
The main character Katniss is definitely a family girl.
There was strong character development throughout the story as you learn about Katniss Everdeen, a hunter like her father. Her family is just barely scraping by and when the next Reaping comes, Katniss’ sister gets the big ticket to a likely death.
After Katniss takes Prim’s place, we keep learning about Gale, Peeta and others who come from her district including Haymitch Abernathy. Eventually you get a kind of love triangle of sorts between Gale, Peeta and Katniss. The other minor characters from the other districts are also fascinating in terms of their past, their skills and their motivations.
Another great thing I liked was the story development around the Districts. You learn by the end of Catching Fire that there were thirteen districts not twelve and that they may have been the cause of the first war with the Capitol.
Collins touches on issues of extreme poverty, segregation and war in this post-apocalyptic kind of scenario (well, more of a dystopia). It kind of reminded me of Bethesda’s Fallout series yet Fallout is not like this story at all.
For young adult fiction there’s plenty of solid, fatal violence and death. You’ll be amazed at how clever Katniss has to be to survive and of course sometimes it all came down to luck… and good allies. There was a lot of back room dealing thanks to Haymitch.
It reminded me of game theory. There could only be one winner but you need to work with people to reach the end. The nearer you got to the prize the more likely your “friends” would turn on you.
There were also plenty of twists and turns regarding the truth. Was District 13 really as nice as they claimed to be? Was Katniss really helping the wrong people too?
You’ll have to read to find out.
The other thing I thought about as I read the series was “gaming in real life”. I mean the Capitol was using the Hunger Games as a way to keep the districts at each other’s throats so they wouldn’t rebel but it was also a form of entertainment. It’s like modern sports today.
Like the Roman arena games, it was the use of violence to keep the masses under control. It was a kind of catharsis or living through the people killing each other in the arena.
It’s also like reality TV shows of today and maybe this “gaming” theme made this story quite relatable. I mean everyone’s heard of Survivor even if they never watched it.
What Did I Think Was Weak?
To be honest there wasn’t much I found that I could dislike about the series. Granted, turning the final battle into a kind of deadly game seemed a bit far fetched but then again it was a last ditch defence so I kind of forgave that. Can you turn war into a real game?
Maybe if they were fighting with drones, which no side was using. For all their hovercrafts and crazy killing technology they didn’t have combat drones? They opted for genetically warped monsters?
(Which I might add weren’t used in the war with District 13 and the other districts…)
Well, it’s fiction so I overlooked that thought.
The only major gripe that I had was that by the final book, Katniss saw less serious action (and clever use of her skills) than in either of the first two books. It was less “survival against really bad odds” to “overthrow the Capitol and be a mascot”.
She and several other characters including Haymitch also didn’t seem to be “all there”. Past deaths in book two and the eventual death of Katniss’ sister really broke her. Her final all consuming thought was getting even with President Snow.
Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy is worth a read. I personally found the first two books to be more exciting than the third but the third did wrap up the whole mystery around District 13. Unlike J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series (to be reviewed sometime in the future), I found it very easy to get into.
This series is more mature than most young adult fiction I’ve been studying (again Harry Potter comes to mind).