Monday, March 7, 2011
Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy
I finished The Hunger Games Trilogy a few weeks ago so I'm finally getting my act together and writing up a quick review on it. Again, I'll try to keep it spoiler free so if you haven't read it but are thinking about reading it this will hopefully help you make up your mind.
I'll start with the first one for which the whole trilogy is named: The Hunger Games. It takes place in a world where the 12 Districts are under the control of the Capitol, run by a dictator who continues the 'tradition' of the Hunger Games. That means that a boy and a girl, anywhere from age 12 to 18, from each district is chosen each year and taken to a place in the Capitol where they are forced to fight to the death. Only one of the kids will survive. The story's narrator, Katniss Everdeen, winds up being her district's tribute for that year's Hunger Games. At first I had a hard time believing that with that premise it would be able to hold together an entire trilogy. It wasn't until about halfway into the story when things started to become clearer and more questions arose that I realized I was absolutely hooked on the story and couldn't wait to read the next two books. However, I was only a few chapters into this book when I started to wonder why this is considered a 'teen fiction' story aside from the fact all the characters are between the ages of 12 and 18. Suzanne Collins did a fantastic job setting up the story but she also created a disturbing scenario. Think about it. A group of 24 teenagers all thrown together with the sole purpose of killing each other. Needless to say, the book gets pretty intense at times, even for this 21 year old who has no qualms about slicing up Locust with a chainsaw in Gears of War.
When I started Catching Fire I couldn't help but wonder yet again how this story was going to hold up against its predecessor. All I have to say is that Suzanne Collins doesn't disappoint. It takes off pretty much from where the first one left off, dealing with all the problems that started to develop in the first one and it follows Katniss as she learns to deal with the repercussions of the end of the first book and all the new problems the Capitol starts to come up with. Catching Fire is a perfect middle section for this trilogy. It is exciting, lets readers really get into Katniss' head (not hard since she's narrating but she does a lot of changing and growing up in this book) and starts to bring up more problems that need resolution. And when it ended it was as painful a wait for my library to get in Mockingjay as it was for Star Wars fans to wait for Return of the Jedi after The Empire Strikes Back.
Except that Suzanne Collins does not disappoint. There are no 'WTF?' little fuzzy Ewok moments. Just more of what made the first two such compelling stories. More character development, more action and even sections that made me have to go back and re-read them to be sure I had correctly understood what was happening. My only regret is that I read the end of it on the bus ride back from class because I had to hold back at all the sections that made me want to cry my eyes out. But I will say that Mockingjay is easily one of the most intense young adult books I've ever read. It is mature to the point where I would argue against letting kids under 15 read it. Overall, I just have to say the Mockingjay is the best ending to a trilogy I've read in a long time. It stays true to the dark tone that the other two books had while still managing to wrap up all the conflicts in the story without making me feel like the world had suddenly become all rainbows and sunshine. It was a realistic and satisfying end to the series.
I hope that just because it is found in the young adult sections of bookstores and libraries that it doesn't chase away older readers. I loved this trilogy even more than some adult novels I've read. I even loved the end of this storyline better than the final Harry Potter book. Like I said, it was satisfying and it makes me want to own the books so that I can go back and re-read them anytime I like.
I've heard rumors that it is going to be made into a movie and all I can say is I hope its not. There have been too many bad adaptations of books to movies lately and I'm not looking forward to another movie out to spoil what was a magnificently crafted book trilogy. Because it's considered young adult I'd be afraid that moviemakers would want to dumb it down for kids because like I've said plenty of time in this review: this series is intense and very dark. Unless it can be treated as a movie that would be aimed more at adults or older kids it should stay out of movie theaters. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the rumors stay just that: rumors.