Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Reviewed by Connie

First of all -- happy birthday to the wonderful, amazing, intelligent, dedicated, one and only Ingrid! My successor who is doing a marvelous job running The Blue Bookcase!

Published: 2008, 2009, and 2010

It's about: I don't want to give too much away, as most of the enjoyment of these books comes from the suspense of not knowing what's going to happen. So, the scene: North America in the future, which has become one political entity called Panem, whose 12 districts are ruled by an Orwellian Capitol. To remind the districts of the Capitol's omnipotence, every year the Capitol hosts an event called the Hunger Games, in which one boy and one girl from each district are ushered into a deathly arena, where they must kill each other, Gladiator style, on live television, until only one "victor" remains.

Enter, Katniss Everdeen -- not your typical 15-year-old girl -- driven by the survival instinct,she does anything necessary (including hunting illegally with her deadly bow and arrow) to keep her mother and sister alive.

A dystopian young adult series, this trilogy is a story of survival, of revolution, of government, of love, and of whether humans are ever capable of building a better future.

I thought: I read these books pretty quickly, about one a day over my Christmas break, partly because so many people had been pushing me to read them, and partly because I was really excited to use my fabulous Christmas present -- my Kindle!

For the most part, I didn't want to put the (e)books down -- the storyline is engaging, exciting, and oftentimes dangerous, and the characters have just the right amount of unpredictability. This is the kind of trilogy I stay up a little too late at night reading, because I really want to find out what happens (with the exception of the first half of Mockingjay, which I had a hard time getting into).

One of the best aspects of these books is the strong, non-stereotypical female protagonist, Katniss. Especially with other YA books floating around there with such horribly needy, overly emotional, self-destructive female characters whose entire happiness centers around a boy or two (*cough* TWILIGHT *cough*), it is refreshing to find a leading lady in a YA series who is strong-willed, logical, and independent, who, though certainly not devoid of love, does not center all of her thoughts and actions around it.

All of this being said, I will not say this is a masterpiece of work. Enjoyable? Yes. Difficult to put down? Yes. Great characters? Yes. But is this rife with literary merit? I may make some people angry with this, but I'd say no. It has its moments, but it is certainly too flawed to be at the level of The Book Thief (read my review here) or even the Harry Potter series in terms of its universality, writing quality, and ability to tie its themes and emotionally frayed edges together into a neat work of wonderfulness.

I realize that I'm being a bit vague, but in a nutshell, I enjoyed the series, I look forward to seeing the movie adaptations, and though it did not offend my literary senses, it did not excite them either.

Verdict: I'd say borrow this series from someone else's shelf when you want a fun read that's sheer entertainment

Reading Recommendations: These books are best read in as few sittings as possible, as they are action-packed and exciting

Warnings: A few pretty mildly graphic deaths but nothing to lose sleep over

This is really random, but as everyone puts in their votes for which actors should play the main characters in the upcoming movie adaptation of these novels, the only actor I can think of for any part is Simon Baker to play Finnick:

Favorite excerpts: "A mockingjay is a creature the Capitol never intended to exist. They hadn't counted on the highly controlled jabberjay having the brains to adapt to the wild, to pass on its genetic code, to thrive in a new form. They hadn't anticipated its will to live." Catching Fire

What I'm reading next: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen