Review: “The Hunger Games” Trilogy

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Novel, Reflections, Review, Writing
Tags: , , , , , ,

Normally I wait a week before doing another review, but I think this time I’ll make an exception.

I decided to read The Hunger Games books for a number of reasons. One, because m sister was upset at how many things got changed between book and movie (the movie I saw first) and I wanted to know if it was really something to be upset over (I decided it wasn’t, but actually very clever). Another was that the second film is coming out later this yea and I wanted to be prepared for what I’d find, maybe be as upset as my sister (though that usually doesn’t happen). But finally, I decided to read the books because Ohio State’s having this mock-Hunger Games thing called the OSU Honor Games, a nonviolent contest based on Suzanne Collins’s twisted imagination, and I want to be a tribute for my dorm (go Jones Tower!).

So I read the books. And without going into what I thought of each separate book, I’ll give you my thoughts:

First off, I don’t read a lot of YA, so I don’t necessarily know the conventions that are associated with it. Still, I thought certain moments in the story, Collins relied too much on telling rather than showing. For instance, at the end of Books 2 and 3, Collins ties up events in only a short few paragraphs. At the end of Book 2 I was like, “There’s a rebellion in progress and Katniss was apart of it without knowing it, and yet you expect to tell me that in four little paragraphs and that I’d be satisfied with that? Puh-leaze!” And at the end of Book 3, after Katniss (spoiler alert!) kills Coin while Snow expires from being a sick, bloody old man, I tought Collins was rushing a bit to finish up the story, to have everything resolve itself without doing too much writing or exposition or lengthy conversation. Too much telling, and maybe a little lazy.

Not only was that a problem for me, but at certain points Collins puts us into dramatic moments without putting on the drama. When Katniss and her crew go into the Capital in Book 3 to take down Snow, it seems Collins is deliberately under-dramatizing it, making the mission seem as drawl as possible. I would’ve cued in on Katniss’s feelings as she stepped into the Capital with a gun and bow and arrows, looking around the snow-swept streets and the rising excitement and tension as she awaits her chance to kill Snow.

But Collins decides to just put us smack in the middle of the Capitol, and things only get dramatic when she actually feels like telling us in detail what’s happening instead of summarizing it for us.

And finally, the ending for Book 3 left me stunned. I mean really, Katniss kills Coin just like that? A little out of left field, if you ask me. Where’s the dramatic build-up, the chance to let the world know what Coin did, to refute it so that the world will see how cruel war can make us and make it stick that we shouldn’t fight like monsters? Nope, just kills the old hag after agreeing the Capitol children should participate in a Hunger Games. And speaking of which, did that ever happen? Or after President Coin’s death, did they just decide not to let the Capitol kids not die?

Whatever.

I thought the first book fantastic, but Books 2 and 3 were not as good. Sure, Collins made an effort to make Book 2 more than just a bridge between Books 1 and 3, but at times it dragged, and I thought it took too long to get to the Quarter Quell. And Book 3 alternated between me being interested and me being annoyed and bored.

Plus the resolution of the whole Peeta-Gale thing…Oy Gevalt! I feel like there were so much more to those characters. They were both capable of being great political and military leaders, especially Peeta. But all we really see is their obsessions with Katniss and perhaps a darker side of Peeta after he’s been hijacked. And then the way Katniss finally picks her man…was that Collins’s way of saying, “Oh yeah, this is who she finally picks and how it happens.” I definitely wouldn’t have written it that way, and I think I would’ve gone into Katniss actually weighing her feelings and what each boy represents to her. You know, make it seem like they’re both dreamy and she just can’t choose?

And by the way, what do those guys do at the end of the book? Does Peeta become mayor of District Twelve? Does Gale find a new girl while leading reconstruction efforts in other districts? A little explanation please! God, now I know why the movie went into further detail of the behind-the-scenes stuff: it was needed to make up for what was left out of the novel.

So finally, how about my ranking? For The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I give the whole trilogy a 2.6 out of 5. Great premise, great story overall, but there was room for improvement, if you ask me.

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Comments
  1. Adi says:

    I am honored to have made it into one of your blog posts! I agree with a lot of what you said about the books, which is why I wasn’t really a fan of the end of book one, everything but the Quarter Quell in the second book, and the whole third book. There were still a couple things that needed to be put into the movie from the book that just weren’t there. (SPOILER ALERT) For instance, Peeta losing his leg was kind of a huge thing to be left out. Also at the end Katniss never tells Peeta that she didn’t really love him, which was kind of a vital plot point if you ask me. Overall though I agree with your assessment of the trilogy.

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