Reviews: The Hunger Games
That's right. Not bad, but underwhelming. The series has an interesting dystopian setting with much potential for a richer story but Collins smothers this potential under some very lazy, convenient storytelling. In the first book almost every time Katniss finds herself in danger she's saved by Deus ex Machina, and when faced with a problem, it is solved thanks to ass pulls and coincidences. She's sitting on a tree, surrounded by careers? There is a killer wasp's nest right above their heads. She's about to be killed by Clove? Thresh comes just in time to save her. She has to destroy the food supply? No problem, there is a minefield just waiting to be set off. And what stops her from walking straight at it without knowing? Another tribute (Foxface) strolls in just then and there to clue Katniss in. And speaking of Foxface, she is implied to be a threat, perhaps the worst one, but before she can match wits with Katniss, she's removed by yet another coincidence. Look, I know every writer does that from time to time, but HG relies on it way too much (especially for a story that already has sponsor system as the in universe Deus ex Machina). It ruins some of the books most suspenseful moments by not allowing Katniss to overcome obstacles with her smarts or skills. Even worse, the same convenient storytelling is used to save Katniss from having to make moral choices. Example: she's hiding in a tree (she does that a lot) and another tribute lights a fire nearby. Katniss worries that this fire will bring the attention of careers, who will come and possibly kill them both. Then our protagonist seriously considers killing that other tribute herself. Does she end up doing it, revealing her ruthless streak? Does she decide against it, demonstrating her conscience? Neither. The careers show up and kill Katniss's would-be-victim, sparing her the dilemma. This trend keeps up throughout the entire first book, removing any innocent, poor tributes Katniss wouldn't want to kill. Collins tries to have it both ways. She has Katniss consider taking more questionable actions to show us some supposed ambiguity, yet she wants to keep her almost completely pure so most of the dilemmas are avoided. Characters – especially protagonist's love interests – are a hair above bland and most of them are quite one-dimensional. Violence leaves the reader no less indifferent than the blasé Capitol crowd is. When people start dying, we feel nothing. We're not excited, not horrified and not sympathetic. And why should we be, when most of them are nameless Red Shirts? Rest of the series improves on some aspects (brutality of war, sophistication of of Capitol's PR manipulations, grayer morals, plot twist or two) but the Romantic Plot Tumor weights it down considerably. In my opinion, it's a nice series with some things to like but nothing to really love or hate except for the universe itself. An excellent fanfic material, but also a disappointment.
The story is quite good. I don't think it would be considered a perfect one, but it's really enjoyable. The characters are reeally interesting. Katniss, brave, kind-hearted beneath everything, and ready to do anything for the good of her family; Peeta, a warm and friendly partner, protective and artful at times; Gale, a strong-willed and even a bit tough, on the way to freedom... And many, many more come: Effie, Haymitch (hee-hee!), Cinna... and many, many others. Then the plot is a fantastic one. It's not really "hard-boiled", and at the same time not really boring. The Games are terrifying yet awesome. There are quite a few jokes to "cool down" tensions (and quite snarky narration to boot!). And when it comes to the District 13... The whole thing reminded me of the World War 1 and the Russian Revolution of 1917 — maybe, 'cause I'm from one of the post-USSR countries? :) I have to admit — there are a few problems. (Although, is there a work which hasn't these?) The punctuation bothered me a little. A few times I wanted more explanations on the motivations. The world building and a few plot elements can seem a little bit... off, unless you think about it for a while. Nevertheless, I liked the story. Not a 'super' one, but on a scale of 1-100 I can give it... about 85 (with "Catching Fire" being my favorite). P.S. I watched the films prior to reading books. Though they did more than one change in the film, it was nice. In was intriguing. It was watchable. P.P.S. Thanks for your consideration... And may the odds be ever in your favor!
Gushy review ahead.
First off, Katniss is awesome. My favorite thing about her is that she talks like a teenage girl. The things she actually talks about aren't, she's damaged even before the book events, but she's still seventeen; she's snarky, she takes silly things to heart, easy to self-loathing, she's awkward and in the lighter moments I can see a few of my friends in her - intimidating and a force of nature, but you feel better for knowing her. This series has a talent for making you like characters almost instantly. All the better to stab you in the heart when they're broken or killed. The main boy is Peeta, who could have easily been one of those Nice Guys, the obsessed kind who you're meant to root for but just end up being skeevy, but he's warm and sweet. The other is Gale, brave, broken and protective of his surrogate sister. I loved that the boys never really hated each other, or fought for Kat's love. They were jealous, but that's understandable given the places they were forced into by the media and I was relieved when there was no Twilight-esque hissyfits. And speaking of, I'm still scratching my head as to where the Twilight comparisons came from, but then I just make myself smile by imagining Katniss flinging an arrow into Bella's eye. Speaking of the media, I never got tired of that angle. The descriptions of the clothes were gorgeous, the star-crossed romance plot given a new twist by a real love forming out something originally just for show, the cosmetic surgery comments so meaninglessly chucked around and the idea that the pretty victors are used as whores both chilled me to the bone. The morality is very dark and bleak, course it would be, but there are enough moments of sweetness or humor to make you still care. There are flaws. There is a tendency to have a page or two where a revelation will be told through exposition. The other flaw is that it can get quite anvilly with the decadence of the Capitol. Yes, we know the Capitol is rich and the districts are poor, did you have to trigger bulimia memories to get that in? To end, I'll say the fact that this is marketed to teenagers gains it a lot of points. It doesn't treat them like idiots, it carries the suspense of who you can trust. It doesn't shy away from any horror or grief, and I saw a lot of my own battles with PTSD in the narration. I'm grateful for that.
I really like it
Wow! The Hunger Games is a good series. It hates clichés (there aren't any) and there aren't any Mary Sues or Gary Stus or Marty Stus. Katniss has character flaws - thank goodness. And the characters aren't stock ones. Believe me, this is no Twilight or rip-off of anything. The writing isn't bad, and there's no idiot plot. The Hunger Games series is awesome because...the characters are relatable (Katniss), it doesn't treat it's audience like idiots, and it doesn't glamorize killing of teenagers for popularity or attention. It doesn't justify their killing; it shows the Games are wrong and how corrupt people can be. Katniss has regrets, she hates monsters like President Snow...she isn't a sociopath and she doesn't always bich and cry about everything. And she does end up losing things...she's not all 'Oh, look at meee! I end up all faymus and I am dee best!' In fact, she isn't a self centred narc at all. She hasn't got everything, she loses things that are important to her, and she's left traumatised. Peeta ends up with PTSD when the whole rebellion things is all over so... Yes. Suzanne Collins has bright ideas and is a good writer. She knows teens aren't walking dictionaries and doesn't attempt to manipulate our emotions (John Green, can you hear me?); when certain people die we are like 'Nooo!' and it actually makes sad, instead of the book purposely trying hard to make us weep. She deals with subjects and topics that are...but still, she tells it how it 'is' and doesn't... The characters are realistic people and they are not stereotypes. Some characters were exploited in different ways, emotionally, mentally, etc. So yeah. There is suspense and there are happy moments as well as sad ones. There is action. There are surprising things. There is Fridge Horror and there isn't Fridge Logic. There there is Fridge Brilliance! You end up feeling sorry for Katniss and in the epilogue you feel happy for Katniss. I like The Hunger Games. It's awesome. Good dystopian novels.
I wish this WAS a Battle Royale rip-off
Feels a lot more like a Harry Potter fan-fic with some Twilight-esque romance thrown in for good measure. I’d say a Battle Royale rip-off would have been more ideal, and I'm not even a particularly big fan of Battle Royale in the first place. The first Hunger Games had 24 participants, of which we only know of Katniss and Peeta. The rest can be summed up as being either a bunch of obviously evil psychopaths, or expendable good guys for the former to prey on. Most of them don’t even have names and are killed off immediately anyway so they clearly don’t even matter. The entire premise hinges on the fact that Katniss needs to kill or be killed in order to survive, which means to kill whether you’d like to or not. None of this actually comes into play since all the “good guys” are killed by someone else. The only ones that are killed by Katniss are the evil psychos whom lack any semblance of humanity, and are obviously only written that way to justify the fact that Katniss kills them. Collins doesn’t have the guts to force Katniss into a situation where she’d be forced to kill a character like Rue for instance, therefore she contrives the story in such a way that such situations never arise. Even when it seems like she and Peeta have to kill each other after all, it doesn't last because the capitol immediately takes it back because of some ass-pull rebellion mumbo jumbo that makes no sense and proceeds to become a plot tumor that hijacks the entire rest of the series. The biggest problem I have with this series is that it lacks structure and that it doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be. Collins chooses seemingly arbitrarily, to write about whatever the hell she wants to, paying no thought to how it fits within the context of her story, or what she’s trying to convey overall. If this is supposed to be a dark story about needless murder and suffering, then what is up with the colorful townspeople and the mary sue-ish names of the characters? Is that supposed to be whimsical or what? Is the whole “kids killing each other for entertainment” not enough to work with for a premise? Is that why she feels the need to instead turn the whole thing into a dumbed down Star Wars vs 1984? I suspect she didn’t even have the whole “rise against the capitol” side of the story thought out until after she finished the first book, but hey, that’s just my speculation.
Phenomenal. Simply phenomenal.
Suzanne Collins is one of the best authors I've ever come across. I didn't expect it to be this good - something so violence-oriented wasn't something I anticipated enjoying at the time I read it - but Collins pulled it off like almost no one else. The negatives:
- Collins used to be a writer for younger kids, and her writing for teenagers gets a bit strained at times, particularly in Catching Fire.
- The first half of Catching Fire was boring as fuck.
- Collins is fantastic at pacing.
- Her thematics are very effective.
- She's wonderful at showing violence in a way that you can't possibly root for, that makes it clear how truly horrible it is.
- Mockingjay was probably the best anti-war message I've ever seen.
- Katniss was a compelling narrator, and Collins did a great job of capturing her voice.
- All the side characters were just as compelling.
- There are some contradictions in the worldbuilding, but once you can get passed them or see why they were done, the world felt cohesive and logical.
- The writing was almost never awkward and always effective.
- Collins did a fantastic job of capturing the psychology of her characters.
- The plots are genuinely unpredictable and surprising.
Pretty Good Series, better than most I've read
WARNING, SPOILERS!!! This, okay let me say this for the series, it's greatest strength is probably it's adherence to the sad facts of life and war. The thing I like the most is that it is so realistic in the way of how it handles the characters reactions of all the trauma they go through. The books refuse to find some half-baked excuse for them leaving it all behind, it stays with them and scars them terribly. Katniss's motivation is her little sister Prim and while Prim isn't really developed at all beyond being the thing that mainly propels Katniss to make all the sacrifices she does, I think it works okay. Peeta is a rather nice character too. His devotion to Katniss is rather sweet and ironically enough, he really is a star-crossed lover who's been head-over-heels for Katniss since he first met her. He's very loyal to her even when he realizes that Katniss may not return his feelings. Another well portrayed fact is that Katniss literally has no idea what to do about Peeta and his feelings. Gale, I'll give Collin's credit is at least engaging enough to where the romance arc can play out with him as the rival to Peeta. I know some people don't like the constant romantic focus, but this series did a good enough job portraying how neither Gale nor Peeta were necessarily bad choices that it made me flip flop on who I wanted Katniss to end up with, that's the first time it's happened to this degree that I can remember. Last of all, the ending and my lord do I love this ending. Ironically, I love it because it is so bittersweet. All of Katniss's attempts to lead are brought to naught. Her attempt to be a covert assassin a la James Bond or something ends in tragic failure and her sister dies right in front of her. And the story after that wraps it up perfectly. Katniss is horribly scarred from her experiences and pretty much doesn't even care about her life anymore she's so broken. But eventually she and Peeta get back together (not quickly, it takes them months probably years) and she manages to lead a happy enough life even conquering her fear of having kids. This ending shows that what she's done and had done to her never really leaves and it haunts her for the rest of her life (Peeta too). It is so bittersweet and so perfectly executed that I can't help but love it. "May the odds ever be in your favor!"
Flawed, but interesting
I like this series, but I almost started hating it after the hype over the movie began. I felt like everyone was gushing about how wonderful a couple Katniss and Peeta make, how much of a strong heroine Katniss is, and how beautiful Finnick and Annie are together. I don't agree with any of this. If Peeta and Katniss were gender switched, both characters would be much less likable. A boy who is brooding and angsty, yet very capable in battle, who gets together with a girl who cares about nothing but the boy? Sound familiar? Katniss in particular is a hard character to like. You know that she's supposed to be tough, but she comes across as a little whiny at times, and her only truly heroic moment was volunteering for Prim in the first book. Everything else she does is motivated by either selfishness or revenge, and by the last book, she's driven completely insane with PTSD. Not the most heroic of characters. Her narration is especially annoying. It's melodramatic and full of angst, but there isn't much substance to it, and you can never tell what she's really thinking, which makes some of the plot twists in Mockingjay seem out of place. However, if you look past all of this, it's a great series. I love how the books increase in scale and ambition with each successive book. The first is pretty black and white, the second gets more complex with the character backstories, and the third goes all out with Grey And Grey Morality and turns the series into a cautionary tale of sorts. I love Gale in particular. He starts out as a very bitter character who would do anything for freedom and develops into a very morally interesting character in Mockingjay, where he's willing to commit atrocities in order to win the war. Then there's the Capitol, which I love, and District Thirteen, which I also love. Overall, if you can get past the Fan Dumb and the writing style, it's quite enjoyable, if extremely dark and cynical.
Disclaimer: This review pertains only to the first book, and not to the whole trilogy. I haven't read the rest, and I don't plan to. The Hunger Games is a deeply flawed book with a few redeeming qualities. The story seems engaging. The world is interesting. The characters could be in other hands. Collins turns otherwise interesting material dull, and exciting into boring. The present-tense is awkward at first, but you get over that. Unfortunately it's also sloppy and just plain bad. When a battle-scene seems as serene as a sunset you need to speed things up, get my blood pumping. When a character dies I need to feel some emotion. I didn't. Collins' abilities are fine for television – I actually liked the movie, not that it was anything special. The general story is good, but Collins doesn't have the skill to keep it up. One of her worst faults is her inability to show instead of tell, and she has none of the qualities that allowed Tolkien to pull it off: she is not groundbreaking or masterful, and she wrote this four years ago, not sixty. Please don't try to defend the style as “the point of view of a teenage girl.” They tried that with Twilight. It's bad writing. Get over it. I have to talk about the love-triangle. Cliché and boring. I really want to see something else by now. This was standard, and Collins' characters didn't help. Peeta seems to exist just to love Katniss. Katniss is whiny and annoying. Gale has all the personality of a two-by-four, putting him in the top ten percentile in this book. You know who's interesting? Haymitch. Cinna wasn't too bad. Primrose seemed like a classic Mary Sue, as did the mayor's girl – whatever her name was. One thing that did shine was the justified use of Deus-ex-Machina. The setup of the games justified it as little else would. It still felt boringly convenient and destroyed tension but it was fresh, which is nice. Not fresh? The book in general. There's nothing too new here. A female archer protagonist goes up against all odds in order to save a damsel in distress and somehow succeeds while sticking it to the man all at once – yay. Am I too critical? Probably. That doesn't make this book worth all the drool it's inducing. Out of ten I'd call it a five. It's not particularly bad, but it's not very good either.
Suzanne Collins' exceedingly fine sci-fi
With an almost literally heart-stopping punch right at the end, these three books are a good example of how sophisticated childrens' literature has got - so much so that I didn't even realise it was for kids until I saw my copies were published by Scholastic. I'm in my thirties and much adult fiction isn't this intense. The story is an exciting, detailed exploration of the psyche of an inhuman totalitarian regime that resembles and essentially explores H G Wells' Time Machine division of humanity into a decadent aristocracy and toiling masses. Katniss Everdeen is the daughter of a miner in the sinister 'District 12', part of a downtrodden community of helots subject to punishing conditions. Learning to struggle against the elements and against the regime in her home, she transfers those skills to the 'Arena' during the sadistic 'Hunger Games', alongside her contemporary Peeta Mellark, after her little sister Prim is chosen and she substitutes herself instead. She becomes a symbol of resistance for refusing to play the game required of her. The characters are satisfying, the events credible, and the consequences of their actions are clear. For a children's series, Collins believes her young readers are able to cope with some very dark themes, and the love triangle constructed over the course of the three books is convincingly rocky, and resolved in quite a surprising way. She also deals well with her characters' psyches; she doesn't make people change their minds or accept events without good reason. Katniss' eventual trauma feels real, and the unexpected climax works to show how political conditions can become internalised to such a degree that even in victory she feels she has been defeated. Collins' world has some sketchiness about it, but this is something she doesn't really have to worry about. As a writer who can drag her readers in, pummel them into shape and spit them back out again three books later, any minor flaws do not spoil the books, and most crucially, she sets up a world like that of Harry Potter or Discworld in which there could be many more stories written about peripheral characters, other protagonists and other events in the wars, Games and rebellion that periodically rock Panem. There are publications out there which expand on Panem - and I look forward to some good fanfic.
Good, But Not Great
The Hunger Games: I have mixed feelings about this story about 24 kids being forced into a Battle Royale where only one survives by a tyrannical government. It held my attention at some points, but I thought the story got a little dull when Katniss was taking care of Peeta. Interesting, but not as great as I thought it would be. Catching Fire: I think this one is the best of the series. It has Wham Line after Wham Line, and even though we didn't get to see Katniss as a mentor, the twist of the Quarter Quell and the new characters made up for it. The Quarter Quell ended up being much more interesting than the Hunger Games of the first book. Although I was disappointed that Peeta was made to be The Load again. Was it really necessary to make him walk into a force field? Mockingjay: This book had two serious flaws. The first was that the whole propaganda thing was rather useless considering that almost all the districts had already started revolting. The second was that the assassination mission was useless and a Shoot The Shaggy Dog story that ended up with characters dead with nothing to show for it. It did almost nothing to advance the story. (And Finnick, what are you doing on the battlefield? Get back to your wife, you idiot!) All in all, Katniss doesn't really do anything important until the very end. As for the Love Triangle, it wasn't bad, but there wasn't really any perceivable reason behind it. I liked Katniss as a character, but she didn't appeal to me at all as a Love Interest, and by the time the story ended, I wasn't that convinced that she was actually in love. And while it may be because the books are written from Katniss' perspective, not revealing the reasons behind why Peeta and Gale are in love with her detracted from the credibility of the love story. (No, Peeta, the mockingjays stop when she sings may be a valid reason for liking a girl at the age of five, but not being in love with her at seventeen.)
Tragic and Heartbreaking, But Suspenseful
Okay, being that it's 2012 (the time this review was written), everyone knows the plot of The Hunger Games - 24 teenagers go into an arena in the nation of Panem (which was once America) and they have to kill each other until one person is left. And this is broadcast on national T.V. But, on the Reaping Day of the 74th Hunger Games, our heroine Katniss Everdeen volunteers for her sister, Prim, who is only twelve. To be honest, I didn't really want to get into the Hunger Games trilogy. But, as steam for the movie picked up, I became more intrested in it. Then, I won the book trilogy at a raffle at school, and so I read the books, finishing the entire trilogy in a week (since it was around the beginning of spring break when I read it). Needless to say, I fell in love with them, and I couldn't put the books down. Here's what I have to say about the books: The Hunger Games: For the first book, it was pretty good, especially after Rue dies and things get really intense. However, my only problem with this book is that Katniss' quest for water was way too long. I didn't like that scene. Catching Fire: This one's my favorite in the trilogy for some reason. Not only do things get really serious in Panem, this book brings in some of my favorite characters (Beetee, Wiress, Johanna, and, of course, Finnick). Mockingjay: Oh, Dear Lord. This is what happens when the Anamorphic Personifications of Tearjerker, Despair Event Horizon, and It Got Worse got together and wrote a book. Even though it had my favorite scene in the series (Finnick and Annie's wedding), it was the most depressing book in the series. I cried for fifteen minutes straight after reading the Bittersweet Ending, and I was depressed for the rest of the day. Thankfully, One Piece remedied any sadness I had over the trilogy. The Hunger Games is not only heartwrenching and dark, but it will also stay with you forever. That's how powerful the book trilogy is.
OK, everyone say it with me: The Hunger Games has flaws. There, don't we feel better? Let's be honest, these aren't classic works of literature. The setting is colorful and dynamic, but doesn't really hold up to any logical inspection. The "muttations" (what a stupid name) in particular feel like plot devices more than actual setting elements. While the writing does improve, the first book has quite a few egregious prosaic problems, including chunky exposition and semicolon failure. Amusingly, Chapter 1 of Book 1 is by far the worst offender—of all the chapters for the editor to take a nap! It's not exactly subtle, either—themes are sometimes quite clunkily handled. Shakespeare it ain't. I still loved it. The series makes up for its not-insignificant flaws with impeccable plotting, quick pacing, and above all else, an incredibly compelling cast. Katniss may be my favorite "YA" lead ever: she's complex, tough, and eminently likable despite a whole host of character flaws. It's so refreshing to come across a heroine who is neither a passive distressed damsel, like the heroines of too many YA novels, nor a man with breasts, like the heroines of too many comic books, nor a Mary Sue, like the heroines of too many fanfictions. She's genuinely relatable, she emotes convincingly, she kicks ass without compromising femininity. The supporting cast is likewise excellently drawn, to the point that it's hard to pick out a favorite supporting character. The pacing is terrific, helped by brutally succinct prose (which, as mentioned above, drastically improves after the first chapter and again after the first book). The books are as close to un-putdownable as anything I've read, ever. This perfect pacing helps the reader to overlook some of the setting inconsistencies; after all, the characterization is the main attraction here. The plotting is swift and well-executed, and the series features the best gut-punch ending I've encountered in a good long while. I admire the author for having the conviction to write the ending that made sense, and not the one readers wanted. Bravo, really. Look, these books aren't going to change your life. They aren't masterpieces. What they are are incredibly entertaining, well-plotted stories about compelling characters in a colorful setting. They should make great movies. Read them. You'll have fun.
... Dare I say... perfect? (not a gush review)
Flaws... These books don't really have any. Even though they bring up a classic (and all but cliche) love triangle, one of my most hated tropes, the childhood friend love interest, Suzanne Collins does it right. The Love interests are very balanced, and so it's not like one was just there to distract from the other. I kept switching my preference with Katniss until the end and I was satisfied with the result. The action is shocking at first, not making the hero a goody two-shoes. The story is well paced and has some great wham lines at the end of every other chapter. They don't take the focus away from the main character to focus on some other less important sub plots. What I'm saying is that it does everything right. It's "perfect". But that doesn't make it my favorite book ever. It was good, but it lacks a certain soul... as if a machine had written it. It's very good, and great for reaching a large audience, but don't expect it to be the best book you have ever read. That's what the hype wants us to think. The best books have little flaws, and a smaller market at which it's directed. And when you fall into that market, you will love it more than anything else because it caters to you. The Hunger Games isn't directed at anyone... But it's definitely a must read for anyone. Oh, and it's kind of unpredictable, and anyone can die.
I really enjoyed it
Well, title says it all. So I'd like to say why I enjoyed it. This series made a good choice at being marketed at teens. When people talk about teenage-oriented books nowadays, they tend to think of Twilight, which leads to comparisons with books like this. People say the Hunger Games is similar because it has a Love Triangle and a female protagonist. The problem with this is that the few elements it has in common are done right in the Hunger Games. This isn't going to be a rant about Twilight comparisons, but I'd just like to say that Katniss is a great heroine. The first person exposition does a good job at talking about her past, her relationships with other characters, and her hostile opinions on the government. And she has understandable problems such as being offended at being used as a pawn to overthrow the Capitol. I thought Peeta and Gale were great. Gale is an older childhood friend who has a dark side of using violence to succeed in the more important goal, but is still a good person. Peeta is the Nice Guy who helped Katniss without needing to be thanked, and has a way with words to make up for lackluster fighting abilities. At different points of the story, I wanted a different one of them to win while still liking the other. The Capitol is friggin' AWESOME. Just everything about them is so evil: how they live glamorous lives with insane fashions in a vibrant, technologically advanced city while their districts live working for them in the poor towns, and how they actually make out the Hunger Games to be a sporting competition. I just thought that was amazing, and for some reason I had a lot of fun picturing the ways their city was being destroyed in the third book. My personal favorite part of this book, as well as why it was recommended to me, is the suspense. Even in the parts of the second book where we don't know much about the rebellion, I'm always wondering what will happen next. The chapters often end in vaguely worded cliffhangers, which stops you from putting them down at the end of the chapter. The book was wise to take the teen audience seriously. Being a part of them, the concepts of violence and the Black And Gray Morality weren't foreign to me, and I was glad to have read a book involving it targeted at my age group. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who likes these genres. It's a good read.
Book 3: Rereview
Book 3 is where things finally happen. No more Hunger Games, instead war. All the side entertainments of tactics and games are stripped away and we look in to the heart of The Hunger Games. I've recently reread all of them, and to my surprise the experience is as enjoyable the first, but in a different way and there is time to notice more and think about more, like how the genius of having a winner is that it forces the people at home to watch every step, hoping that their person might make it home and that all the others die, else their community and maybe humanity. There are two failures in book 3 though. The first is that after a while it becomes tiring the way Katniss has such a gift for photo-op moments of humanity. In the first two it was natural and unexpected, here the fact that they turn on cameras and see her do it makes it hard to agree, even if it Katniss is that sort of person. Secondly, a good part of the end involves a lot of people dying on a messy and ill-defined mission. People die in war, often without point and it's horrible and confusing, but all the way through the Hunger Games has made us confront unpleasant aspect after unpleasant aspect about humanity (which given that on a practical level we haven't physically evolved past everything we've done in the past, so in a destroyed culture and the wrong education most of the events seem verifiably plausible) and I think this is maybe too much trauma, one step too far. The third(and second) book is a dicator on the seat of dethroning doing everything he can to break the mind of a little girl, it's interesting and horrific but we need some good things to survive the reading. But in the end it pays off, in a messy sad horrible way, with scars that are never truly gone. There are some huge character points here which validate everything that comes before, big big events happen which throws a lot of things into a different light and they were all brave moves. But in the end it's resolved and it shows us things about ourselves. It gives a reason for not taking 'kill one person to save two' to it's ultimate extreme. And on the second reading, I realise in one completely brilliant final paragraph it finally even explains why we should ever put ourselves through reading the Hunger Games. And that was worth re-writing this review for.
If you haven't read book 1, please go back to the first step and repeat. There is no point starting here. Else, carry on... Book 2 is interesting. The battle was over, the heroine is alive, the love interest had declared his love and sacrificed himself countless times for her. She even saved him a few times and found herself falling in love. The Plucky Young Things have defied the evil regime. Except it's not as simple as that is it? The first part of the book is explaining how despite all this, the girl can't ignore the other person in her life before the love interest, she can't defy a regime and remain unpunished, although the games are over she's still fighting for her life. We begin to see that Katniss' attempt to stay alive has began to disgruntle people, suggest that maybe it isn't right they should live as slaves only to be forced to celebrate as their children die. But Katniss is survivor and she still isn't interested than this, any problem she will still only boil down to the small bit of innocence she can see and protect, her sister. So whilst her family could be taken away any minute she'll play ball and do anything she can, just like in the first book. But then comes the second reveal, it isn't enough, she hasn't suffered enough and she will have to enter the Hunger Games again. This is where the book excels. We've seen the hunger games now, we've seen what they do and the affect they've already had on her. There is real dread as you realise she's got to go back. And the book capitalises on it and makes you fear with every page that this is where she goes back in. It's also fulfilling our desire to see familiar faces again and learn more about the questions the first book asked. This is top-quality story-telling. The Hunger Games themselves feel about weaker this time round. We've seen this before, what's more the situation has changed, people know this is wrong, so there is less urge to see Katniss survive and more to see the killing stop, the Hunger Games stop. But a slight weakness in the end can't stop the tension that the start was created and we just realise that even more that the Hunger Games aren't a bedtime story and we're going to have see something special if we want Katniss' world to improve. It practically ends on a cliff-hanger and by now you should have no choice but to go onto the end.
Book 1: Battle Royale with Children
...so um, just plain old Battle Royale I guess? 1.When you buy into these books, you are committing, there will be nothing close to a resolution until book 3. All or nothing 2. These books are brutal, do not expect the soft-cushions of narrative. Do not expect a protagonist designed to make you feel good. Do not expect a symmetric simple fluffy happily ever after. This is not that sort of author. The main character is frosty and has never trusted anything in her life and this isn't some lovely arc to teach you to be a better person, this is who she is. But despite her hostility and anger when she sees innocence she will give up everything to protect that. This is not someone you're going to like, or maybe even admire but when she comes through you will respect her for what she has done. The story is about every teenager being forced to enter themselves into a chance of having to fight each other to the death in an annual survivor-isn't-dead contest to reminder the remnants of humanity that there is one human city in charge and everyone elses job is just to feed it. You can ever increase the chances of being selected in exchange for food to keep your family alive. There is a lot of focus on this, and the people in all the different places. The people who protect their families, the people who give up. The people who watch the shows, create the shows or dress up the little girl in front of them every year knowing they're probably going to die. When the battle finally comes around, it detailed and believable. It's the battle of wits and action and fighting for your life that will make you pay attention and enjoy what's happening. Maybe it's too enjoyable and there is a small conflict of interest, sure what these kids are doing is terrible, but I'll be darned if it's not entertaining too. Still, this is a really good read. Not if you want simple or nice maybe, but it will keep your interest. Everyone has an agenda, everyone wants to live and you're not going away before you find out how and who.
I found the Hunger Games to be like a Mc Donalds hamburger. It seems like it's a wonderful thing, tempting you with its lush lettuce, its tangy pickles, its charred meat- but when you take a bite, it's bland. You still enjoy the taste...but it's boring. And when you carefully think about what you just eaten, you suddenly get a sinking feeling. I don't hate the Hunger Games. It was okay, as long as you just went along with it or ignored some parts. But it wasn't the greatest thing in the world either. After hearing everyone at my school gush about Katniss's manliness, her fierceness, her godliness- well, my heart almost broke when I actually read it. She sounded more like she was stoned or something. I'm sure that FIERCE has something to do with passion; stoned =/= passion. Too much telling, not enough showing. Katniss says that she's starving, but when you consider all the fridge logic of her being an excellent hunter and knowing about herbs from her late father's herb-book, you slowly realize that she actually SHOULDN'T be. She should be one of the most privileged people in the District. So...I guess the narrative is unreliable. And the romance? I didn't care too much. I just took it in stride. I like the Finnick/Annie thing though. It's a shame that it wasn't expanded. Instead, the minimized version was a bit creepy- as much as Finn sounded like he loved her, who knows if he wasn't taking advantage of her mental illness or anything? The only thing that convinced me otherwise was when ANNIE FINALLY DEBUTED NEAR THE MIDDLE OF MOCKINGJAY and showed that she was sane enough to share the feelings. But let's focus on the greater shame: the characters. Katniss is cool enough, although she doesn't live up to her hype. Peeta seems sweet, and his manipulative side is awesome- although him being paraded as a saint annoyed me (again, too much telling and not enough showing). The side characters had so much potential to be interesting, but they were not expanded enough. Foxface, for example? I'd love to see more insight into her character. Annie? There's got to be more to her other than being the Ophelia. Haymitch? Effie? The other victors? How else did the Capitol influence them? The books are great with drama and scenes- but its details/foundation suck. It tries too hard to be edgy, when it's just average.
The only series I've ever read that's left me wanting another sequel.
I used to be an avid reader. I tore through Redwall in one day, and Artemis Fowl in two. I've read piles of book of the Redwall series, Lord of the Rings, the Inheritance Cycle, and more, and now I'm writing my own novel. But in all my years of avid-readerness, the Hunger Games is the first to leave me craving another sequel, or to go back and read them again. The story is rich with unexpected twists, underlying plot points, action, and certainly emotion. Collins really thought this story through when she wrote it. I found myself growing attached to the characters as the story progressed, and found many of them easy to relate to and understand. The spread of madness in the third book was excellent, and believable, followed by the deaths of characters that many other authors would not have had the heart to kill. Finnick's, especially, was unexpected. I also found myself hating President Snow more and more as the books progressed, and even without having lived in Panem my entire life, I shared Katniss' thirst for his blood. Maybe even before she, herself, did. I dont usually cry when I read books, but this series made me cry not once, but SEVEN times. I counted. I really only had four problems with this series: - First, at the beginning of the third book, Katniss was way too negative about everything and everybody for it to be realistic (or she could have been on an exceptionally long... ahem. Yeah, that hadn't occurred to me.) - Second, after Katniss made such a big deal about Gale's comment on her choice of a husband, she seemed to go with it without a second thought at the end, although the romance itself was believable enough. - Third is Snow's death. I wanted Katniss to shoot Coin, but I think she could have gone with punching Snow a few times with some "This is for X!", then pulling back, nothing the arrow and saying, "And this is for Prim," and then shooting Coin. - Fourth, and most serious, is Prim's maturing so quickly. It only got one sentence in the whole series. I would think that, if Katniss' frail and innocent sister had matured to practically her own level, completely losing her innocence, Katniss would make a bigger deal out of it than she did. But problems aside, this series- as I said before- is amazing. I recommend it to everyone. Everyone.
The first is decent...the rest is Romantic Plot Tumor personified
When I first heard about The Hunger Games, the people talking about it acted as if it were a modern classic, a dark, thrilling tale that goes to where no book would ever go, a staple of modern literature. Curious, I read the book on a whim, followed by the rest of the trilogy. The first book was actually pretty good. It is certainly dark (children sacrifices and all), it has a vivid (if somewhat incomplete) picture of the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, the action is suberbly written and genuinley riveting, and the background characters (such as Haymitch and Cinna) are likeable enough. The problem is the three main characters are utterly uininteresting Katniss, the hero, is a Mary Sue. She's not as bad as Bella, but between the Costume Porn, Angst, alternatingly narrating herself between plain but skilled to beautiful but skilled, I really felt alienated from her. Then comes her two, very forced love interests: Peeta, a guy who is so sweet, pure, dopey and naive that he almost gave me diabetes despite all the kids getting murdered around him. Then theres Gale, who is basically Katniss, but much more of an asshole (He manipulates Katniss's emotions in Catching Fire in a way to make her feel bad for faking a romance with Peeta despite the fact she had no other choice, among being bloodthirsty and emotionally distant in the third book). The love triangle between these three feels ludicrious, as both Katnissand her two "love interests" are the weakest parts in the books. The whole thing feels forced and shoddy. However, I was able to look past this, because the action was brilliant, and everything else was well-handled as well, keeping the romance somewhat in the background In the first book Sadly, Collins seems to believe that these three character's love life is more interesting than the Crapsack World and the other, more dynamic supporting characters. Catching Fire spends about half the book trying to "intensify" the love triangle, having less of the action and contemporary questions that are important to our own world. Mockingjay is just pathetic, going on and on about how Katniss is going to resolve this silly situation when theres a far more interesting nation-scale revolution going on. Read the first, stay away from the rest.