One of my non-reader friends recommended it to me back in like 2009. But since he wasn't really a big reader and had no idea what type of books I liked (besides Harry Potter), I basically ignored his suggestion because I assumed that he didn't really know what he was talking about. Good job, Kristen. Anyway, then it started getting a crap ton of hype, and being the hipster that I am (not), I avoided it like the plague. And then, by the time that it had died down a little, I started hearing not-so-great things about Mockingjay, and got spoiled for the love triangle, as well as the fate of an important character. So I thought, "why bother reading it at this point?" and ended up watching the movie for The Hunger Games without reading the book. Not my proudest moment. Anyway, I found it on TV again recently, and it sparked my interest to finally read the trilogy. And let's be honest, at this point it's just kinda embarrassing to not have read it. So I did. Let's talk about them, shall we?
For each book, I'll do a bit of a non-spoilery discussion (for the people like me who are SUPER late to the party), give my rating, and then talk about some spoilers. At the very end, I'm going to briefly talk about my feelings about the series as a whole, without any spoilers.
The Hunger Games
I cannot stress enough how much I regret the fact that I watched the movie before reading the book. It's one of the few times I've ever done that, and I never want to do it again. I think that if I'd read this book without knowing anything about what happened, I'd be sitting here giving it a full 10 out of 10 stars. But alas, I knew almost everything that was coming, so I anticipated most of the twists. And believe me, this book has plenty of twists. I think that the world Suzanne Collins created is really interesting and clever. The Hunger Games (the book, as well as the actual games) is/are so fast-paced and exciting. I quickly connected with Katniss because I felt like I connected with her more than I've connected with most other YA main characters.
My favorite characters by far in this are Cinna and Haymitch. I love Katniss as well, but Cinna and Haymitch just take the cake. Cinna is absolutely brilliant, and when he says he's betting on the girl on fire, I melt. And if you took away the alcohol, Haymitch is just the male version of me. I love him. He's just so snarky and sarcastic.
I ended up giving The Hunger Games 9.8 stars out of 10. I think that if I'd just gone into this blind, it would have been 10/10.
I think one of my favorite parts of The Hunger Games is the relationship between Katniss and Haymitch. They understand each other in such a unique way, and I loved that. I also really loved all of the political trickery that they came up with in the end. It sets up Catching Fire so beautifully.
The one thing that I had totally forgotten about (or maybe they had changed it in the movie, I'm not sure. It's been a couple years since I've seen the end of the movie) was the way that they narrowed the final 3 down to the final 2. I just couldn't remember how Cato died. And so the mutants were a real surprise.
At the end of this book, I remain firmly Team Gale. (I won't let you know yet where I stand now, but you'll learn more of that below.) I like Peeta, but I think he's a bit... slow. Gale and Katniss are so similar, and he can keep up with her and challenge her. Peeta is nice and all, but he just seems too simple for Katniss. Plus, I have a habit of falling for guy friends, so I like it when a book character does too.
Don't read any further if you haven't read The Hunger Games! I have to talk about events of The Hunger Games to discuss Catching Fire.
There were elements of this book that I liked better than The Hunger Games, and elements that I didn't like quite as much as The Hunger Games. The one part that I really enjoyed was the continuation of the political trickery. It just continues to get better and better, and I just couldn't get enough of it. The second half of the book was what I didn't love quite as much as the first book. It wasn't that I disliked it-- in fact, I really enjoyed it! But it just didn't quite live up to the bar that the first book set.
Also, on top of the characters that I already loved, I just fell in love with Finnick. Whatta cutie.
I gave Catching Fire 9.25 stars out of 10. I still really enjoyed it, but the second half made me like it just a touch less than The Hunger Games.
Getting more specific, when I said that the second half didn't live up to the standard that The Hunger Games set, I was speaking specifically about the Quarter Quell. I definitely thought that the 74th Hunger Games was more fast-paced and exciting than the Quarter Quell. I did think that the Quarter Quell was very cleverly crafted with the clock, and I thought that was really cool. But I just didn't think it was as exciting as the games from the first book.
The thing that I did really love was all of the stuff that Katniss had to do to keep herself from getting killed by President Snow. Even though I absolutely hate politics in real life, I always love reading about all of the crazy politics in dystopian novels. And this is possibly one of the best examples of crazy politics that I've seen in a dystopian book.
At the end of Catching Fire, I'm still team Gale, even though my resolve has been slightly shaken due to the fact that he seems to feel like he deserved Katniss. Peeta was at least upset that Katniss didn't love him because he had been under the impression that she did love him, and he was hurt. But Gale just felt like because he knew Katniss and was friends with her that he deserved to be with her. And that makes me upset.
Don't read any further if you haven't read the previous books! I have to talk about events of the previous books to discuss Mockingjay.
I've found with trilogies that the third book can often take the trilogy in a very different direction from the first two books. Mockingjay had a very different tone and direction from the first two books, and it took a little while to actually adjust to that. And I didn't like it quite as much as the first two.
That's not to say that I disliked this book, however. I actually really enjoyed it once I got past that initial change in tone and direction. I thought that there were several really clever aspects to the plot, and really liked how the line between right and wrong was a bit blurred.
Overall, I thought that the majority of the book was good. Not amazing, but good. I did, however, think that the end was really great. Not only was it the ending that made the most sense, but I also just really liked it.
I gave Mockingjay 8.5 stars out of 10.
Honestly, to me, the best part of the book was when Katniss put an arrow through President Coin. I hated her almost more than I hated President Snow. Honestly, I hated the government of District 13 just as much as I hated the government in the Capitol. It was just such a huge shift from the Hunger Games and the strategic politics to life in District 13, the propos/acting, and the full-out rebellion.
I was so insanely upset when Finnick died. I felt like his death was just kind of brushed over, even though he'd been a fairly important character and had helped Katniss through tough times. He deserved much more than the two sentence death scene that he received.
The whole sub-plot of Peeta being brainwashed into thinking that Katniss was the enemy was really interesting and unexpected. I already knew that he and Katniss were going to end up together, so I was really curious as to how Suzanne Collins was going to resolve that. And I was really happy with the way that everything ended, even though it did include her and Gale not ending up together. After everything they went through, it just wouldn't seem right for Katniss to end up with anyone but Peeta.
Series as a Whole
I definitely think that The Hunger Games is one of those trilogies that starts really strongly and goes downhill. HOWEVER, I don't think that it has as steep of a downhill slope as most other YA trilogies. I mean, obviously, I gave my least favorite book in the trilogy 8.5/10 stars, so it's not like I thought that any of the books were bad or disliked any of the books. That's very different from the Divergent trilogy, where I gave 10 stars to the first book, and dropped to an 8 & 7 for the last two. And the further removed I get from the series, the more I want to drop that 7 to a 6 or 5. While this trilogy wasn't quite as consistent as the Across The Universe trilogy, I did think that it was one of the most consistent trilogies that I've read.
I'm not going to say where this ranks among my favorite series/trilogies, because I'm planning on making a post listing my favorite series (since I already have posts about my favorite stand-alone books). But be on the look-out for that post sometime soon... although it might not be until March. We'll see.
So, that's it for my discussion on The Hunger Games Trilogy! What are your feelings on these books? Love them? Hate them? Haven't read them? Let me know down in the comments!
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