The Hunger Games Trilogy
The Hunger Games Trilogy took me about three weeks to read and now that I'm finished I'm already missing the characters - a sure sign of a great book series.
In this fast paced and hip new trilogy author Suzanne Collins takes readers on a roller-coaster journey of love, pain, murder, betrayal, insanity, and revolution. The story takes place in the future, in the former North America now called Panem, which is run by The Capitol and is constructed of 12 districts. There used to be 13, but the last district was brutally destroyed in the revolution as a warning to all citizens. (or was it?) And to further discourage future rebellion, The Capitol annually hosts its grizzly Hunger Games. Every year, each district is forced to produce two tributes – a boy and girl aged 12 to 18 – who will be forced to fight to the death in the arena. After The Reapings, (the tribute selection ceremonies) each tribute joins his/her 23 comrades for brief preparations before all but one of them are sent to their deaths. Watching these games is mandatory for all citizens, but is truly a pleasurable and highly anticipated event for citizens residing in The Capitol itself. The winner, besides getting to stay alive, earns food and luxury (relatively speaking) for life, and a year of better provisions for their entire district – hence the name Hunger Games.
Readers see Panem through the eyes of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a fiery and angsty youth from district 12. Katniss, a hardheaded and tough specimen, spends her time bow hunting in the woods outside her district with her friend Gale in order to provide for her mother and 12-year-old sister, Prim. Katniss is seen as a calculating and commanding social outsider who has no idea how much she affects those around her. Her seclusion from social interaction is a choice – her passion is for her family – her anger is trained on injustice. Yet beneath her rough exterior dwells a scared 16-year-old girl who is only trying to do what is right, whatever that may be.
The first book in the series, The Hunger Games, kept me on the edge of my seat. Suzanne Collins truly has a gift for invention – the arena where the televised death match takes place is filled with twists and turns and fresh horrors for the young characters. She also has a great affinity for cliffhangers. I almost dreaded the end of each chapter because in this series, a chapter break is not meant as a natural pause in the story but as a signal that the tension is only going to build.
The second book, Catching Fire, continued in this pace, a little slower to gear up than the first but soon just as suspenseful.
The third book, Mockingjay, I found to be almost disappointing in its dissimilarities to the first two. It still follows the same characters, but many of them are altered significantly by the emotional traumas of the events in the previous books. Especially the character Peeta, who is Katniss's love interest and a fellow tribute from District 12. As their lives deteriorate around them, the characters become a bit less relateable and more vicious, and at times it becomes hard to distinguish whether their paths of revenge are justified by the horrors they have endured or are simply continuing the cycle. The plot also takes on a different pattern; in the first two books the events build to a climax at the conclusion but in the third the events happen sporadically, and there are several climaxes which some readers may find a bit anticlimactic. However, in my estimation, Collins made up for these minor complaints with a somewhat shocking yet satisfying ending that I'm still thinking about days after finishing the book.
On a personal note; I'm not sure what to think of Collins writing style. These books are definitely easy to read-no big words, no long sentences. Her simplistic writing style is kind of a nice contrast to the complex ideas, so I wonder if she did that on purpose.
The bottom line, I whole-heartedly recommend this series and I'm already counting down the days until The Hunger Games movie comes out in March 2012 so I can revisit these complex and fully realized characters once again.