{Book Review} The Hunger Games Series

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA science-fiction, fantasy
Published: July 1st 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
Source: Purchased Series

Goodreads Summary:

The Hunger Games – Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

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.

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

Mockingjay – 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 plains – 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.

Overall Rating of this Series – 3 out of 5 Stars

My Review:

So, as a series in general, The Hunger Games really did not capture me. It definitely had its thrills and chills, but I felt that the plot was pretty flat, especially in the first novel. And Katniss was really a disappointment to me. There was no real growth to her character, even after all she experienced and all the horrors she faced. To me, she was very self-absorbed. I could hardly stand being inside her head, but I couldn’t escape either. Now, Katniss did seem to get better in Catching Fire. She was actually beginning to grow, and finally putting someone else (other than her sister) before her own needs. But once I started reading Mockingjay, it was like she’d reverted back to the Katniss that started in the series, basically just doing anything to survive. Even her relationships seemed like they were convenient only if it benefited her needs.

Fortunately there were many other great characters to make the series intriguing, like Haymitch. He was a fun guy to read about, and amazingly insightful. But the one character that kept me going throughout the series was Peeta. He was truly the heart of the book, in my opinion. The one character who was willing to fight when all seemed lost. The one willing to sacrifice the most for someone other than himself. However, with all the grief he put up with, I wondered at times why he even bothered protecting Katniss.

As for Gale, I’m not really sure his role in the Hunger Game love-triangle. He was barely in the series except in flashbacks and the final novel, Mockingjay. I understood his and Katniss’s friendship. In fact, I thought they were wonderfully paired as hunting partners. Their similar stories and interests were a great foundation. Yet I felt putting him into the love-triangle with Katniss and Peeta was a bit of a long shot considering how little focus his character received.

I think the greatest disappointment of the series was the final novel, Mockingjay. It had great potential in the beginning after what Catching Fire had built up. Finally there was a rebellion, a potential rescue, and an on-coming war. But by the time I reached the middle of the book, I lost interest. And though I like see a character being pushed to breaking point to see their true strength, this novel took things way too far, especially with Katniss and Peeta. It just seemed off.

To sum up, I found myself unsatisfied by the series. If I was going to use a metaphor, I would say reading The Hunger Games is basically like rolling a boulder up a mountain. The beginning is flat meadow with maybe a few rolling foot hills every once in a while. Then in the second book, you begin to climb the mountain with anticipation. You become hopeful there will actually be more to the thrills. But you find when you’re about to reach the pinnacle, you end up tumbling back to the same place where you started.

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