Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
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I started noticing all the hype about The Hunger Games Trilogy a few months ago. I’ve never been one to jump at the latest and greatest fictional masterpiece (mostly because I rarely read secular fiction), but after I found out about the movie coming out this spring, I thought I should read the books and see what it was all about. After all, there haven’t been many times I’ve read the books before seeing the movies. So, after a very long wait (I think I was somewhere close to 20 on the waiting list), I finally got The Hunger Games from our local library. It seems I’m almost always pleasantly surprised when I have low expectations (although, thinking about it, “pleasant” isn’t the most ideal word to mix with this trilogy). Here are my thoughts on each of the books.
The Hunger Games was certainly interesting, if a bit disturbing since it involves children forced to fight to the death in a gladiatorial type of game for the amusement of those in the Capitol. Considering this, I thought the story was told well. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever read that is in first person. This took some getting used to for me, but it really worked well, especially in the following two books. This was probably my second favorite book of the series. It set everything up well, and was quite fascinating in a morbid sort of way. I wasn’t sure if I truly liked Katniss or Peeta, the two main characters of the story, although I could sympathize with them. I did, however, love Gale for what little he was in the story. All in all, a good book that I’d probably like even better reading it a second time now that I’ve read the whole trilogy.
Catching Fire was my favorite book of the trilogy. The growth of the plot was excellent. I could hardly put this book down. The characters really grew on me in this book. I found I cared much more about Katniss and Peeta, and I was delighted that Gale had a much bigger role. The direction the plot took about halfway through was completely unexpected. I’m sure my eyes got really big at that point. Definitely the best book of the series, in my opinion.
Mockingjay, the conclusion of the trilogy was just plain intense. It was a lot darker than the first two. By this point in the trilogy, we’re talking about full-out war. It was difficult because, by this time, you really became attached to certain characters and casualties are mounting. You never know when you’re going to turn a page and find out someone you’ve come to love has been killed. I read this book just about as fast as Catching Fire. With so much going on and wanting to know how this whole, huge thing is going to be resolved, it’s hard to stop reading. I thought the progression of things was natural and believable, but I will say this was probably my least favorite of the trilogy because it was so dark. The ending was fairly satisfying. It certainly wasn’t a series where you could expect a perfect happily ever after. The characters were far too scarred for that. There were a few things that irked me and character storylines I wish could have been tied up better, but I can live with it.
Overall, The Hunger Games Trilogy was a fascinating read. It probably had some of the most real characters I’ve ever followed in a book. Suzanne Collins wrote it in such a way that you were dragged right into the emotion with the characters, horrified, just as they were, with the atrocities around them. I think the most disturbing part about the whole series was how, in the world we live in now, it didn’t seem too far fetched. Another thing I became very aware of, being a Christian and hardly ever reading secular fiction, was the overall hopelessness of the story. There isn’t the slightest mention of God throughout the book, so when everything was crumbling and being destroyed, what did any of these characters really have to hold on to? It’s a sobering thing to think of having no God to trust in to take care of you no matter what happens.
Would I recommend these books? Well…yes and no. The story is good and exciting and relatively clean, but I would not recommend them to anyone who is really sensitive to reading pretty in depth accounts of death, killing, and torture. Some parts of the books are extremely depressing and very intense. But I can’t say don’t read them, especially if you plan on seeing the movies.