I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can’t own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I” – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
First Impressions: I was first lent The Hunger Games by a friend of mine when I was in middle school. I remember reading the first one hundred pages while thinking: “this book is pretty good!” That is, until I got to the arena scenes. Then my poor little wimp of a middle school self became terrified. I had nightmares for days and vowed never to pick up that book again. When I was in my second year of high school I decided to give The Hunger Games another try. Lo and behold, I was able to finish it. This year I decided to finish reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
Katniss Everdeen lives in the dystopian remnants of North American now known as Panem. Each section of Panem is divided into 12 districts, and every year, one young man and one young woman from every district is chosen randomly to take part in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a televised event where each competitor is sent into an arena to a battle to the death. The remaining survivor becomes the victor. When Katniss’ little sister Prim is chosen as a representative for district 12, in an act of courage, Katniss takes her sister’s place. Will Katniss be able to survive the arena, win the hunger games, and return to her family?
About the Book
Titles: The Hunger Games (Book #1), Catching Fire (Book #2), Mockingjay (Book #3)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Years Published: The Hunger Games:2008, Catching Fire: 2009 , Mockingjay: 2010
Pages: The Hunger Games: 374, Catching Fire: 391 , Mockingjay: 392
Series: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Genres: young adult, fiction, dystopian,
The Hunger Games trilogy is currently among the best-selling novels of the 21st century. It is no surprise to me after reading all three books and watching all four movies (yes, four movies – Mockingjay is split into two parts) that The Hunger Games trilogy would gather a large fandom.
First of all, when it comes to young adult novels, most of them are poorly written. Though once and a while, you will find a diamond in the rough. The Hunger Games is that diamond. Suzanne Collins knows how to create well-formed characters who are not only unique, but they are also memorable and will linger in your mind long after the book is closed. Now that is a writer! Also, Suzanne Collins was a trendsetter in young adult dystopian fiction. After the widespread success of her novels, critics and booklovers alike attempted to find the next Hunger Games. When a book or a series of books become a trendsetter in the market, then it is obvious that its author has struck gold.
The story begins after a huge catastrophe which has completely restructured North America into a totalitarian government known as Panem. Each section of Panem is divided into districts. Each district has its own secular economy which keeps the capital alive. I had read in interviews that Ancient Rome had inspired Collins when writing her novels. First of all, the arena in The Hunger Games was inspired by the Coliseum in Rome. Secondly, if you were to read William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (which is about the historical figure Coriolanus who lived in the early days of the Ancient Roman Empire), it becomes clear that Panem is the “body politic” put into practice.
The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Touching the weal o’ the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?
– Coriolanus, William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene I, Lines 146-153,
Not to mention, President Snow’s first name is Coriolanus! I applaud Collins’ uses of allusions. Bravo!
Another of Collins’ strengths as a writer is demonstrated in her characters themselves. When I watched the movie The Hunger Games for the first time in theatres a few years ago, I couldn’t help but think “Finally! A true female heroine!” Katniss is not a damsel in distress. She is a girl on fire! Katniss is equipped with survival instincts equal or superior to that of Bear Grylls. However, what makes Katniss such an attractive protagonist, in my opinion, is her humanity. In Catching Fire, and especially in Mockingjay, there are clear indications that Katniss, along with the other characters who survived the arena have PTSD. Katniss isn’t a super hero who can be crushed by a 1000-ton boulder and survive like super human. Instead, she is just a young woman who decides to be brave in spite of her weaknesses. She fights only to save others and not to win glory and fame for herself.
The Hunger Games (book #1): The first novel in the trilogy is a strong start to a wonderful series. At first I had my doubts on the subject matter of this book. The plotline is a tad disturbing… A country sends young adults into an arena to fight to the death while the action is being broadcasted on television. What made me change my mind about the book is not because it is incredibly well-written. It’s because it explores fundamental questions about human nature and human cruelty. Collins took a real-life concept of the Ancient Roman gladiators and transformed the setting into a present-day context. The Hunger Games is not violent for the sake of being violent. I believe that its purpose is to condemn violence, and this theme is carried out in the other two books in the series.
Catching Fire (book #2): I had some concerns before I began reading Catching Fire. I heard that there is another Hunger Games that takes place in this book. The reason why I was so concerned was because I didn’t want Collins to write a knock off of her first novel. Some authors, when they attempt to write a sequel to their bestselling book, they can’t produce any more new and creative ideas. Luckily, Collins proved me wrong. Catching Fire explores the dynamics between each of the districts in relation to the capital. It is a heart-stopping book that will leave you shouting “I NEED TO KNOW HOW THIS ENDS!”
Mockingjay (book #3): Mockingjay is the conclusion to the trilogy. It lives up to its promise of being a heart-pumping, heart-felt, with an incredible jaw-dropping conclusion. It will hold your mind captive until you have reached the very end.
Final rating: The Hunger Games: A-
Final rating: Catching Fire: A-
Final rating: Mockingjay: A-
Until next time,