Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Posted October 6, 2013 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 15 Comments

Book Review: The Hunger Games trilogy
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Library

Hey, I read The Hunger Games trilogy! Okay, by “read,” I mean, “partially read but mostly listened to on audiobook.” I know I’m totally behind the curve on this, but can I be a massive hipster and brag that I read the first book before it was popular? No?

Well anyway, I read the first book maybe a year after it came out, when I was on summer vacation after my first year of college. I enjoyed it but not enough to go out of my way to read the next two books when they came out. And then, a few years later, everyone went batshit over the series, and I was just too cool to jump on the trend. (Like I said, hipster.) Also, there were other things I wanted to read, you know?

Jump forward to a year ago, when I was new college grad living at home while looking for a job back in Buffalo, where I went to college and where my boyfriend lived. It’s a little over two hours from my hometown, and I was driving back and forth a lot to visit Tom and to go on interviews. I started listening to audiobooks to make the driving time go faster, and it also gave me an opportunity to “read” books I was interested in, but not interested enough to spend my regular reading time on. Cue The Hunger Games. I enjoyed the first book and figured I might as well complete the series on audio. I actually listened to the whole trilogy so I could refresh my memory on what happened in the first book. So over a few months, while driving, walking my dog, and knitting up a storm, I listened to The Hunger Games trilogy. And I think it’s finally time to share my thoughts.

(Warning: Since I’m talking about the whole series, there will be spoilers.)

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Suzanne CollinsI’m not really going to go into much detail about this book; I’m sure you’ve all read it or seen the movie, or you know what it’s about from hearing everyone talk about it. Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place as tribute in the Hunger Games, children violently murder each other, Katniss is a bad-ass with a bow and arrow, there’s some romance with Peeta (her fellow tribute from Disctrict 12), and finally she and Peeta manage to pull one over on the Capitol and both make it out of the arena alive. Whew, how’s that for a whirlwind synopsis?

Things I liked about this book: I loved seeing Katniss as a strong heroine. She can wield a bow like whoa, she has mad survival skills, and she is a great example of how girls can be strong and tough and independent.

Things I didn’t like about this book: As I wrote in my Top Ten Book Turn-offs post, for me to love a dystopian novel, it needs to feel realistic. It has to make a point about our society, and I should believe that this situation could actually happen. For me, The Hunger Games failed on that count. I picked this book up hoping for a world in which our society’s lust for reality TV has progressed to a new level, in which everyone is watching children kill each other for fun; however, this book doesn’t go there at all; it’s just a very small group of people who enjoy watching this spectacle, and they are powerful, wealthy, and ridiculous; they are not the everyman who loves watching things like Fear Factor and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. They created the Hunger Games as punishment, as a method of keeping the districts subdued. I was hoping for some kind of social commentary, and it wasn’t really there — or, at least, not as much as I wanted it to be.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire Suzanne CollinsAfter winning The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta go on a tour of all the districts, making appearances and attending events. However, their presence has a startling effect on the districts. They begin seeing signs of unrest and rebellion against the Capitol.

The next Hunger Games rolls around and this year it’s the Quarter Quell, a game with extra-special rules. GASP, Katniss and Peeta find themselves in the arena again, this time with past winners of the games. Craziness ensues, including a coup to escape, and once again, Katniss survives.

Things I liked: I enjoyed watching Katniss and the gang try to solve the riddle of this year’s arena. The characters in this book were really interesting and varied, which I liked a lot.

Things I didn’t like: The love triangle that was forming between Gale (Katniss’ best friend and fellow hunter from District 12), Katniss, and Peeta develops more in this book. I hate love triangles. Why is it necessary in this book? Can’t we have a strong female lead who ISN’T torn over which boy to choose? I mean, really.

Mockingjay

Mockingjay Suzanne CollinsKatniss is rescued from the arena and taken to District 13, a district everyone thought had been destroyed in the uprising 75 years ago. Turns out the people of District 13 had just gone underground and come to an arrangement with the Capitol; if the Capitol left them alone, District 13 wouldn’t nuke them all.

A full on-revolution has sprung up against the Capitol, and District 13 is leading the charge. Katniss, the Mockingjay, becomes the figurehead of the resistance and is eager to rush into battle. Mostly, this book is a lot of war and more of Katniss trying to decide which boy she loves — Gale, who is with her and working on the war effort, or Peeta, who is, for a time, a captive of the Capitol and horribly brainwashed into becoming a totally different person?

Things I liked: Really, not that much. I was just mostly annoyed with everyone for most of this book. I can’t really be more detailed because I listened to this book last winter. Sorry guys.

Things I didn’t like: Can I complain more about the love triangle? YOU’RE AT WAR, BOY TROUBLES SHOULD BE THE LAST THING ON YOUR MIND. Also, I just really hate the “oh no, two boys are fighting over me, whatever shall I do” thing. Poor you. But how about you focus on this war thing, and the boy stuff will work itself out.

To sum up:

  • These books are addicting; as annoyed as I got with the plot and the characters at times, I couldn’t stop listening. I knit an entire scarf in a day because I had to keep listening to these stupid books. So even though I didn’t particularly love them, I was definitely pulled in.
  • Kick-ass female hero: good.
  • Love triangles that bring said kick-ass female hero down to a swooning helpless girl who can’t make up her mind: bad.

And there you have it: I’m glad I got to see what the fuss was about, and these books were a good way of filling empty time, but I’m glad I didn’t spend my actual reading time on them.

  • I’m glad I could read these vicariously through you. Hahaha! I have no desire to read them. I know lots of people love these books, but I just can’t get myself interested enough. Great review.

    • Hah, glad to be of service! I don’t think you’re missing out on anything.

  • It counts as reading even if you listen! I listened to books 2 & 3 the first time I read them!

  • You can count reading the first one as massive hipsterness! I do. I even had a Hunger Games Tshirt a friend brought me from a bookstore in her home town. So when all of my students were going crazy over the movie, I would tell them my shirt was better…it existed before the movie was even an idea! Lol

    I agree about the last book – not much at all to like about it. About the middle on, I felt like the author decided to hurry up and wrap it up.

  • I’m with you about the love triangles! I really enjoyed these books, but I found the love triangle incredibly frustrating.

    • I just felt like Suzanne Collins thought YA needs to have romance, so she tossed it in even though it was completely unnecessary.

  • Isi

    Can you believe I still haven’t read them? I always say I want to, but then the time comes and I pick up another book. I would like to read at least the first one, to see how they are, and then, perhaps, watch the film.
    Audiobooks are a great option for what you needed; I’m rereading a lot thanks to audiobooks 🙂

    • I don’t think you’re missing much, but by all means read the first book! I really enjoyed that one for the most part, and the movie is pretty good!

      I haven’t done much re-reading on audiobooks — just Bossypants and Harry Potter — but it seems like it would be great for that!

  • I was also extremely late to the Hunger Games bandwagon. Feel your pain about the whiny teenager with too many boys after her, but really did love it. My thoughts on the trilogy are here: http://aliterarymind.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/the-hunger-games-trilogy-by-suzanne-collins/

  • I avoided this trilogy for a long time because I thought it had to do with vampires. Hungry vampires. Because my students were talking about it around the same time they were raving about Twilight. hahaha 🙂 I was definitely pulled in to the trilogy, too, even though I wouldn’t call them “great” dystopian novels. But sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the story and not have to think too much.

    • Haha that is a wonderful confusion! Next thing we know, there WILL be a dystopian novel about hungry vampires. Ooh, or maybe vampires could be a metaphor for the people in the Capitol? Haha.

  • I totally agree with your “To sum up” although I only read the first two books (I got annoyed too). Now, I won’t be seeing the movies because somehow I can’t stand Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t understand how anyone imagined her as Agnes for the Burial Rites adaptation… I find her vulgar, over-reacting and trying to be funny when she only inspires a pat on her back.

    • There’s going to be a Burial Rites adaptation?! I like Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook is SO GOOD), but I can’t see her as Agnes, either.

  • river simons

    These books were so amazing. I am a huge fan of both the movies and
    books and I am proud to say these were possibly the best books I have
    read. Once you begin you can never stop. I have read the books so many
    times I have lost track. If you haven’t read these or are in need of a
    book I highly recommend them. Enjoy.
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