I’m sure by this point, everyone and their mother has written a review of The Hunger Games trilogy, now that Mockingjay has been out for a good 2 weeks and the publishers are already ordering additional printings. But I wanted to wait to give my review until the story stopped haunting my dreams, which it did, for at least a week after finishing Mockingjay. And I think that right there speaks volumes for this series.
Believability: The Key to Success
The Hunger Games trilogy was so effective because it was so believable. Not only did Suzanne Collins create a post-apocalyptic world where technology continued to advance, albeit only a small part of the society benefited from it, but she also touched on an unfortunate element of human nature – our nature for cruelty. While it is hard to cope with the idea that our society could degrade to this level, where the victors of war punish the rebels by sending their children to a horrific death, it is plausible even in today’s society to imagine this happening.
Collins portrays our cruelty most clearly through three characters: Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. Peeta is the kindest of all the characters. He doesn’t want death. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. He doesn’t want to fight. He just wants everyone to learn to get along, even if it means living under the rule of a totalitarian. Of course, when Katniss’ life is in danger, even Peeta resorts to violence. Katniss, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with making others suffer, if it will help keep her or those she loves alive. Throughout the series, however, we do see a shift in her values as the full force of the world’s cruelty is thrust upon her. It’s hard to kill someone you have come to know even if their death equals your survival, and it’s hard to keep someone alive when everything in you screams out for revenge. Finally we have Gale, who operates with little remorse. He believes that people should be punished, they should suffer. While he fights for the rebels, Gale is no better than his oppressors, a point we see laid out very clearly in the final book.
Another wonderful thing about these books was the exploration of young love. Katniss’ inability to decide rings true to the teenager in all of us. To make a decision on who to date seems so final at that age. And how many females have not been made to feel guilty for not liking someone who liked them? I think this is an element of the book that readers of all ages can relate to. But the love triangle does not exclude the male readers, who can relate to the frustrations both Gale and Peeta feel towards being played with by Katniss, regardless of how willingly or unwillingly she has played them.
My one complaint of the trilogy is that sometimes the writing became bogged down with sentence fragments, which had a tendency to distract me from the flow of the story. Told in first-person in the present tense, I can see why there were so many fragments, but my personal taste would have been to include less.
If you want to read a synopsis of the books, check out Scholastic’s Hunger Games page, or, better yet, read the books. I promise they won’t disappoint.