The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I finally got around to reading this trilogy, after hearing so much hype about it and knowing the movie would be out on video soon. I figured reading it before seeing it would be a good idea.
Set in the future, when the world we know has long been destroyed, a past rebellion has left the people of the world divided into 12 districts and the Capitol. Each district is a manufacturing region to supply the Capitol with products - coal, food, electronics, etc. The Capitol uses its power to keep these districts under their thumb, providing them with limited food supplies and other needs. Their main yearly reminder of their power is in the form of Hunger Games - pulling names of a male and female teen (between 12 and 18) in each district to fight each other to the death on live TV in order to declare a victor - simply for entertainment.
Katniss, the main character, is a very likable and strong female character from District 12. She's learned to hunt and trap by sneaking under the district fence, in order to keep her family fed and alive. When her younger sister, Prim, is named as the tribute for her area, Katniss jumps in to volunteer, knowing that it's basically a death sentence. But she is a survivor, and this is the kind of game you play to win.
The book was excellent. The author did a terrific job of making everything extremely detailed - especially the food. Also, I was pleased that despite the fact the whole story was based around violence and murder that I never found any of it gory or disturbing. The whole struggle to maintain themselves within a world of horror is an interesting premise and a terrific internal conflict. Combine that with a love story and the tangle of figuring out who you are fighting for and you have a great story premise.
I was a little disappointed by the abruptness of the end of the story - but was ok knowing that the series continued to another book. Of the 3 books, I have to say that I liked this one the best.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After the abrupt ending of book 1, I jumped right into book 2, eager to find out what happens to Katniss and Peeta - who have both managed to survive their Hunger Games, in a completely unheard of turn-of-events. Preparing to do their Victory Tour through each of the districts, Katniss is threatened by the Capitol that her actions in the arena have sparked the beginnings of a rebellion and she must use the tour as a way to bring an end to it - or the lives of those she loves are in danger.
I enjoyed this book - the continuing balance of self and expectations, the blindsiding story twists and new character introductions, the strained love story conflict, and the struggle between good and evil. However, I didn't like it as much as the first book - mainly, I think, because the story line has taken a drastic turn and the plot not quite as easy to follow. Rebellion imminent for sure, but how our characters are involved still seems vague and insignificant.
Again, the ending is abrupt, leaving me wondering why there was a cut right at that moment, but I quickly moved onto book 3 to finish off the story.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
In this final book of the series, we find Katniss in the midst of a rebellion between the districts and the capitol. It's a brutal, violent war above ground, while Katniss battles against herself and the horrors she's witnessed over the last year during the Games. With Peeta captured and Katniss broken, the leaders of the rebellion look for a way to keep the rebels encouraged and moving forward. Finally, Katniss agrees to become the face of the rebellion - the mockingjay.
This book was the most violent of the three, despite the Hunger Games themselves. Characters we have grown to love have gory deaths. There's torture, assassination, war, booby trapped streets, underground attack teams, murder of innocent civilians - it's much more intense than ever before.
I found this book hard to follow and read. It was disjointed, probably in response to Katniss' mental state, and much more confusing to know what was going on. Characters are thrown in and we are supposed to know who is doing what, when, and how they are part of the game.
The ending was the most disappointing of all. I felt cheated that it didn't resolve as planned, that the solution wasn't a simple one - but a complex and confusing closure that just didn't seem to solve anything. I was left unsatisfied, confused, and completely unhappy.
Definitely not my favourite of the series.
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