The Hunger Games Trilogy Review

Most people love them, a few people hate them. I am referring to Suzanne Collins' popular books The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. Yes, I know that those books came out a long time ago, and that I'm advertising to the world how woefully behind the times I am when I say I started reading them just this summer. I read them simply because I was bored and curious, and wondered what the uproar was all about, but I have had a bazillion and five people ask me what I think of them. So, I have decided to just go ahead and blog my opinions for the world (or the few members of it who stumble across my blog) to read.

Good Points: The plot is good. Here is a synopsis: The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unidentified future time period, in the nation of Panem, which is formed after the destruction of the current states of North America. Panem consists of a rich Capitol, located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and twelve surrounding, poor districts which cater to the Capitol's needs. As punishment for a rebellion against the Capitol (wherein the thirteenth district was supposedly destroyed), one boy and one girl from each of the remaining twelve districts are annually selected by lottery and forced to participate in the Hunger Games. The Games are a televised event where the participants, called 'tributes', must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains alive. The winning tribute and his/her corresponding district are then rewarded handsomely.

The first-person writing style is very engaging, and the fast pace keeps you reading. The plot has a few nifty twists and turns which keep you a little bit on edge.

Bad Points: This book had all the ingredients to be really, really great, but somehow managed to fall short. I never felt very involved in the life of Katniss, the main character. The story is told from her perspective, but I rarely found myself feeling sorry for or even liking her.

The books are quite violent (as could be expected). I am not one to be disturbed by book violence, but many people I've spoken to have been bothered by all the gore.

I was rather surprised by the lack of religious references. One would think that people who know they are probably about to die would wonder, at least a little bit, about the existence of a supreme being or an afterlife. Not only did Collins neatly omit all references to Christianity (not surprising), but also references to anything remotely approaching religion or spirituality. That being said, the books were surprisingly clean. They had little to no foul language, and very few (and, for today's society), moderate sexual references. Katniss sleeps with her boy friend, Peeta, because she is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and he is the only one who can calm her down after a night mare. Some people in the stories are forced into prostitution, but the book is mercifully vague when it comes to nitty-gritty details. Really, for people who seem to have had no moral training, Katniss & Friends don't do too badly.

It is my opinion that good literature teaches us something worthwhile, challenges us to be better people, or encourages us think in a new way. The only lessons I pulled from The Hunger Games were these:

1) Anger and revenge will ruin one person's life and relationships, while hardly affecting another person. (Can anyone say 'TWISTED')?

2) One little action can set in movement a huge chain of consequences that will affect countless others. (Thanks for telling me something I already knew).

Summary: If you're looking for a fairly clean, action-packed, quick-read series, The Hunger Games books are worth a go...if you don't expect greatness of them, you won't be disappointed.