The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
*This post contains all 3 separate reviews for all 3 books so scroll with caution*
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins (2008)
YA Fiction | Dystopian
“Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.”
pooled ink Review:
A trilogy I found by chance as a kid and which grew into a worldwide game changer. Enter The Hunger Games.
Yes I am indeed a huge fan of the movies but we’re here for the books and lucky for you the books are just as fan-worthy. (Side note: This trilogy largely aided the tidal wave of dystopian fiction stories that rose through the ranks in best seller lists so it had to do at least something right)
The Hunger Games is the first in the trilogy and it remains my favorite of the three. The main characters may be sixteen in body but they’ve grown up past that. The world Collins has crafted is so terrifyingly realistic and filled with so many familiar details of the U.S. today that I shudder. I so enjoy reading fantasy books and falling into their fantasy worlds but while The Hunger Games is set in Panem, a fictional future world of the U.S. including the Capitol surrounded by twelve Districts, Collins includes details of the real states in the U.S. tying in her fictional future with our ready reality.
Okay to put it bluntly this is a book about kids killing each other and the nation watching it for sport and entertainment. Sick, right? Yeah, it is. But the book is so great.
Based off of a Greek myth set in a labyrinth where kids are sacrificed to a ferocious Minotaur, Collins has expanded upon this concept and created a disturbingly possible future. Perhaps we won’t fall so far as to use the death of children to enforce peace but even setting that aside Collins writes in subtle parallels to Panem and our society today. The Capitol citizens seem rather like a satire on Hollywood, and the title “president” speaks volumes on how it was intended and how it is used (if you follow any U.S. politics then you’ll see just how cut-throat, disgusting, and empty it can be).
Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, sparks hope amongst the Districts the moment she saves her sister and the country so dry and parched for hope ignite at her small fire beginning a slow roar for change. Of course there is a romance aspect which in this case involves a confused and conflicted love triangle between Katniss, the “Girl on Fire”, Peeta Mellark, the kind-hearted baker, and Gale Hawthorne, the handsome hunter (in my opinion at the very end of the trilogy she ends up with whom she needs).
Twenty-four tributes between ages twelve and eighteen are selected for the Hunger Games and they vary from heartless to pathetic but the ones who make it past the Cornucopia settle somewhere in the middle showing glimmers of strength, cunning, and desperation. In the end it all really comes down to a human’s will to survive and sometimes one sacrifices their humanity to do so. I found all of the characters in this book interesting in some way or fashion, the supporting characters evolve throughout the trilogy fascinatingly, and the lead characters almost never disappoint in their ways.
The Hunger Games is a startling ember in literature. Read it for fun or read it for meaning, either route you will not be disappointed. Collins has created a successful and fascinating story that will have you shocked, laughing, crying, angry, curious, and afraid. More than that you will be left yearning for more, addicted to the plot, and anxious for Snow’s next move.
Purchase here: The Hunger Games
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins (2009)
“Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.”
pooled ink Review:
Let me just kick this review off by saying that the clock-themed game was brilliance. It was clever and grotesque and horrendous and inspired. In fact the entire game from reaping to end was brilliance. I’d tip my hat to Snow if I didn’t despise him so much. This book shows Snow’s utter lack of fear, his cool head, and his bottomless shrewdness. He calls Katniss’ bluff and pushes her harder and further unwavering, simply watching and waiting for her to break.
New characters are thrown into the mix and once again they are real, natural, intriguing, and add a beauty to the ever-evolving world of humanity. I also enjoyed how it revealed more about the other Districts. This book doesn’t just continue but it expands from its origins in the first book, The Hunger Games. It both picks up from where the first book left off and also carries it further dragging it screaming and thrashing through the mud. The first book ended in fragile hope and hope is dangerous. The citizens of Panem are catching fire and Snow is falling upon them to put it out.
Absolutely not suffering from MBS (Middle Book Syndrome) and brilliantly written, Suzanne Collins reaches the midpoint of her trilogy with brutal grace and sharp reality. The world is not made up of fairytales and unicorns, it is a harsh and realistic place where humanity stretches and thins warping people into highly volatile states.
If you read the first book, don’t quit. Don’t quit. You’ll regret not reading this book and no the movie is not an acceptable substitute for reading the book (although the movie is pretty great and rather accurate…but still! Just read the bloody book).
Purchase here: Catching Fire
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins (2010)
“My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.”
pooled ink Review:
If you have not read this book yet then this first tidbit will not make sense but the fact that those of you who have read it will understand should get the rest of you super amped for what’s to come:
The execution scene was everything. Everything. It was amazing. So perfect! It filled me with hope and satisfaction and pride in Katniss Everdeen. So as morbid as it may sound, yeah the execution scene was everything. In the movie? Even better. The drums? Chilling. Snow’s laughter? Perfect.
Oh yeah, the rest of the book? …Mmmm I mean it was okay and pretty decent for a series finale but it just really wasn’t my favorite book of the three. The movies (ugh why did they insist on making it two parts?!) were phenomenal and this whole series was ground-breakingly spectacular. I will forever applaud Suzanne Collins for writing them and high school me for reading them and Hollywood for filming them.
Anyway, you’re probably here to read about the book and all I can say is that at the moment I choose to bite my tongue. There was a lot I didn’t like about this book but in a general sense I thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps later I will decide to unleash my every opinion upon this blog if my readers grow curious enough to demand such but otherwise I feel that this trilogy was solid and therefore quibbling about all the pesky issues I personally disliked in this book feels…petty? Inconsequential.
All you really need to know is that hope is unyielding, Katniss ends up with whom she needs (whether you’re Team Peeta or Team Gale I do believe that she ends up with whom she needs and she is happy with her choice), Snow remains shrewd to the end (he’s a bulldog that never lets go, that man), the lost District is re-united (sunlight!!!), there is a lot of crying and emotional turmoil (not a joke), there is a lot of fighting and death (not unexpected), Panem rises (insert “Hanging Tree” song from Mockingjay: Part 1 OST), and hope is unyielding.
Just read the bloody books. Perhaps you didn’t read them before they were made into movies and now you’re “too cool” to read them wanting to stand apart from all the hype. Or perhaps you watched the movies and see no reason to read the books. Well either reason is utterly ridiculous. Just read the bloody books.
And may the odds be ever in your favor.
Purchase here: Mockingjay
Meet Suzanne Collins!
Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been busy writing for children’s television. She has worked on the staffs of several Nickelodeon shows, including the Emmy-nominated hit Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. For preschool viewers, she penned multiple stories for the Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald. She also co-wrote the critically acclaimed Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Santa, Baby! Most recently she was the Head Writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days.
While working on a Kids WB show called Generation O! she met children’s author James Proimos, who talked her into giving children’s books a try.
She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and a pair of feral kittens they adopted from their backyard.