It’s a crime that I set aside such great pieces of literature to devour a “teen” book but I am very happy I read The Hunger Games trilogy. Flawed, addictive, and realer than it appears, Collins look at war through a teenagers eyes is one of the most brutal depictions of the horrors outside of our walls. So as a way of putting behind this great series I would like to look back at each section of the trilogy and write about what a wonderful alternative it is to the likes of “Twilight”.
The Hunger Games (review taken from my earlier thoughts)
Is the Hunger Games really that great of a novel or is it just a cool concept and nothing more? That was the big question going in and the answer to it is that the novel falls somewhere in the middle. The first thing to say is that it is a “good” book. It doesn’t balance intellect and entertainment as any of the Potter books did and it may only have a few cards up its sleeve but it is entertaining and sometimes that’s all you need. The build up could have been much more and sometimes the book walks the line between realism and fantasy too much but once you get to the games all is nearly forgiven. The games itself is such a cool emotional roller coaster ride. Yea things do get a little silly but reading about how tributes duke it out is like the ultimate survivor. It is wonderfully paced and when things do slow down it is just the calm before the storm. Action is a plenty as we wait to see which one of our favorite characters will survive the night
I really didn’t want to read Catching Fire when I found out that there would be another hunger games in it. It seemed like Collins wasn’t letting the story progress and was desperately seeking a sort of status quo for the series. The thrill of the first book was how it depicted the lead up and to capture that again would be a crime against it. Alas, though, Catching Fire is better than The Hungary Games and sets up the third and last book gracefully. It is a bridge book that gives us not only an even better hunger games but also a more satisfying conclusion. Talk about not being afraid of the inevitable, Catching Fire knows where it is going and keeps moving there with a fast and rich pace. Collin’s writing here is only outmatched by her masterful last few pages of Mockingjay with plot twists and intense imagery. The lead up may not be as dramatic as its predecessor but Collin’s lets her imagination run wild and produces an exhilarating finale. The flaws are still there from the first book but Catching Fire’s strong narrative overshadows that. Catching Fire’s greatest strength is that it works on its own as well as it works as part of a bigger narrative.
For about the first 2/3’s of Mockingjay it seems like it will be the worst of the series. Riddled with slow pacing and unnecessary plot lines, Mockingjay falls victim to the whines and groans of its heroin. But then the climax hits and the last 120 pages of Mockingjay are the best of the series and some of the best writing I have read in a while. An excellent finish to the series that could have gone on for a while. Nothing feels forced and the end seems more like a beautiful mess than a strong “happy ending”. Mockingjay’s greatest achievement is it’s own unwillingness to sugar coat the horrors of war and the devastation of what comes after. The climax is action packed and rivals some of the conclusions to the Harry Potter books. Teens may not be ready for the brutality of the book’s climax but they may be better for it. Collins paints a desperate picture of the human race as the book works its way around many tough and unanswerable questions. She works best when she mirrors the sadness of a world torn apart by itself. It may not be perfect but in the end Mockingjay’s closing pages are a poignant portrait of the consequences of war and cruelty in a world so desperate for redemption.