February 9, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

So, last weekend I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. Eh. Yeah, that about sums up how I felt about the books. Overall, the trilogy tells an interesting story, but not great and definitely not my favorite. Of course, these are just my opinions, but I can tell you now that if you're a big HG fan, you won't like anything I wrote below.

Spoilers below! Don't read ahead if you haven't finished the entire series and don't want to know the ending.

First of all, I'll be completely honest about the fact that I don't like violence in movies, books, etc. I mean, a bank robber, shoot-em-up movie is one thing, but the type of violence in these books (children killing children) takes that to another level. Yes, I understand it's set in a "post-apocalyptic world," a world we don't understand. Still, it was difficult to stomach, and I have no interest in seeing this on the big screen.

I also had a hard time finding my "willing suspension of disbelief" during these books. I usually love getting lost in a world of make believe and beautiful, well told stories, but this one was hard to buy into. There's just something about a woman with pink skin or a hovercraft picking up dead bodies that stifles the mood and snaps you back into reality thinking, "Oh yeah, this is a book."

I got really tired of the whole Katniss-is-left-in-the-dark plan. It got old having something dramatic happen, then waiting for Katniss to flip out, unravel, then pick up her pieces again. She was a frustrating protagonist, but I did still root for her. I just wanted her to be a little more mature. For someone who had to grow up so fast, she had the maturity of a toddler sometimes.

Then there's Peeta. I'll be honest, I was hoping Katniss would kill him off during the first Hunger Games. He's just not my type of guy...but if I'm really being honest, I'll wholeheartedly admit that I just loved Gale and wanted Peeta out of the picture. (Update/side note: I can admit that I might have loved Gale for the simple fact that I disliked Peeta, but I really feel like Katniss was herself with Gale, not Peeta.) But Peeta being turned into a Capital mutt in Mockingjay was an interesting twist that I wasn't expecting!

Speaking of Mockingjay...I felt like Suzanne Collins just kind of gave up and wrapped it up as quickly as possible at the end. Mockingjay was by far my least favorite book of the trilogy (with Catching Fire being my favorite) because it had too few exciting moments. The fact that they found District 13 was interesting...until we had to sit through countless pages of how boring and rigid the people of District 13 were.

Having Prim killed by a bomb designed by Gale was completely unnecessary and seemed like an easy scapegoat for getting Gale out of the picture. Then the fact that he bowed out so easily because protecting Katniss' family was all he had left, was so uncharacteristic of Gale. He should have fought for her because Gale fights for what he believes in. He was ready to start an uprising against the Capital, but he can't fight for someone he's in love with...and who loves him back? He loved Katniss more than anything, but slipped out of the picture with no trouble.

It was really disappointing to basically see Gale and Katniss just give up on each other at the very end, which was so uncharacteristic of both of them.

Katniss killing Coin was her one fighting moment. We could root for that, as Coin clearly had her own evil motives and agendas. It seemed joyous--yay for the underdog. Then what? President Snow just dies, but we're not sure how, and Katniss is locked in solitary confinement for a weeks. We sit through pages and pages of Katniss being bored and/or trying to think of ways to kill herself only to find that on the outside, there had been a trial about her killing Coin and suddenly there was a new president. Don't you think THAT would have been a good time for the Mockingjay to come out and rally the nation together? I think that would have added some depth to the story line. I'm not saying Katniss should have risen to power as a teenager, but Collins just got a little lazy with that whole concept. It must have been easier to write about her being locked-up with no one around. 

Then the ending...really? REALLY?! Bam...Gale and Katniss' mother go off to other districts for jobs and Katniss and Peeta live happily ever after with their two children in District 12? In no way, shape or form was that the Katniss we'd grown to know in the course of the books. For once, the typical ending in a book was boring and unbelievable in this particular storyline. She settled for boring, sappy Peeta, and Gale apparently didn't care enough to try and win her back. And her kids play on a meadow that covers up the dead bodies of all who died in District 12 during the wars. Again...really?

Now for the good parts:
I thought the characters of Haymitch and Gale were very, very interesting and well-written. Somehow, I both hated and respected Haymitch all at the same time, which I think says a lot about Collins' writing. Gale and Beetee's plans were interesting and well thought-out, but we just didn't see enough of this.

Like I said in the beginning, overall the story was interesting. but maybe it was just too hyped up for me. I was expecting a lot more.

**UPDATE** A friend pointed this out to me, and I totally agree. The casting for the upcoming movies is excellent! That is one reason I may be eventually tempted to see them on the big screen. Woody Harrelson? Could there be a more perfect Haymitch? I think not. Also, I'm dying to know who will play Finnick. I didn't really mention him anywhere in the review because I was too busy talking about stuff I didn't like, but Finnick should be on the list of characters I loved.


  1. Yeah, after reading them, I didn't really understand all the hype, either. I think you're the first person I know of who was "Team Gale", though! The first book was my favorite--then they got progressively worse, in my opinion. Interesting concept, but I agree that Collins just kind of got lazy toward the end.

    I saw the ending a little differently... almost as though Katniss had just given up on being completely happy, so she just kind of settled for what she could get. But it's been about a year and a half since I read them, so I don't remember how much of that was in the book and how much was my interpretation.

    GREAT book review, by the way!

  2. Haha, well I don't know if I was as much Team Gale as I was Team Anyone But Peeta. However, I did really think that Katniss was herself when she was with Gale, unlike when she was with Peeta.

    I agree with you about the ending! As far as the story goes, I liked Catching Fire the best.