25 February 2014

Book Club: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games trilogy imagines a post-apocalyptic future where North America, now called Panem, has been split into twelve districts following a rebellion against the wealthy Capitol. To ensure compliance with the Capitol regime and prevent future rebellion, every year a boy and a girl aged 12-18 are chosen at random to become tributes for each district and must compete in the Hunger Games; a vicious and televised battle to the death that can have only one survivor.
The books are told from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen, who lives in District 12, an impoverished district which primarily mines coal. Katniss has been providing food and money for her mother and younger sister, Prim, since the death of her father and is a skilled hunter, expertly wielding a bow and arrow.

It is Katniss' love for her sister that sees her volunteer as tribute when Prim is drawn as a participant in the Games and the beginning of the first book. Along with Katniss, Peeta Mellark, the son of the district's baker, is selected and the two are whisked to the Capitol to take their place in the Games where they face almost certain death. However, along with desperately trying to survive, something else develops between the pair that makes staying alive even more important.
I really enjoyed the first book. I loved the idea behind it; an evil, elite few use children as tools to remind people of the power they have over them and subdue a population, a baying audience watch and cheer as children are murdered live on television and place bets on who will die and when, while the survivors are treated as celebrities despite the trauma they have endured and the potentially hideous actions they took to survive. I felt that the pace was excellent and it kept me reading long into the night. Despite knowing that Katniss wouldn't meet her end in the arena (the sequels made that quite clear!) I was still so excited to see what would happen and I loved the rich world that Collins had created.

This excitement continued as I read Catching Fire. President Snow is furious with Katniss for making the Capitol look foolish and inciting small pockets of rebellion around Panem. In a bid to destroy the anti-Capitol sentiment created by Katniss' final stunt in the arena, a special 75th Hunger Games sees previous victors return to the arena and it is clear the Capitol rulers see this as the perfect opportunity to get rid of Katniss and all she symbolises. I really liked how the evil of the Capitol began to shine through in this book, with harsh punishments doled out across the Districts in a bid to quell any sign of rebellion. The mental torture inflicted on Katniss also served to effectively highlight the true nature of the Capitol's leaders in a way that wasn't always as apparent in the first novel. I really loved the Games in this book too, as the Games makers sought to come up with hideous new methods to inflict pain on the tributes. The insight into previous Games and other victors was also really interesting, allowing you a glimpse into what life was like after winning the Games.

It was with so much excitement that I picked up Mockingjay and raced towards the conclusion of the trilogy. Unfortunately, this installment failed to provide the impact of its predecessors. Rebellion in Panem is now widespread, with almost every District in revolt. Katniss is selected to act as the Mockingjay and provide a focal point for the rebels who want to overthrow the Capitol. It seemed like this book would provide the most action of the trilogy as people fought for their freedom.
However, most of the book see Katniss in hospital recovering from various injuries and complaining about it. A lot. Even once Katniss is able to leave and visit other Districts, it seems that it isn't long before she's whisked back to a hospital bed for another few chapters. I felt this really stilted the progress of the novel.
I loved the action sequences where Katniss was fighting and the third part of the book was so exciting as the rebellion got closer and closer to the Capitol. I even had nightmares about one of the 'weapons' the Capitol deployed in its quest to extinguish the spark of hope Katniss embodies once and for all. There were also a few shocks in there too, and I loved how Collins wasn't afraid to kill some characters other authors may have been more timid to.
Having said that, I felt let down by the closing chapter of the book. I felt that Katniss deserved so much more than the final fate she was given and the epilogue seemed to directly contradict previous statements she had made regarding her future.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the Hunger Games trilogy. Although I feel it was somewhat let down by a final book that felt a bit sloppy and hasty, the dark ideas combined with some really thrilling writing made it a great read.
I also think it's an extremely important series for girls, as Katniss is one of few heroines I can recall and I feel that having a strong and brave role model like her is vital for teenage girls- and, perhaps, twenty-something ones who are using her strength as inspiration to finally start that fitness regime properly; well, I want to survive if my name is ever drawn at The Reaping, don't I?!

Have you read the Hunger Games trilogy? What did you think? Were you disappointed by Mockingjay like I was?

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  1. I tried reading the first in the trilogy but I guess i'm on the few readers that just couldn't get into it or liked it enough. Then again i'm not a big fan or reader of youth adult books in honesty. It's one of the few times I prefer the film to the book.

    1. I'm not really into YA books either so I was apprehensive when starting this but I was pleasantly surprised. I do understand why some people don't enjoy it though, it's got quite a simplistic writing style which I wasn't really a fan of but I loved the story itself xx

  2. I loved the trilogy while I was reading it, but afterwards it all felt a bit ''blah''. As a literature student, I always find it hard to switch off my critical mind and read for pleasure. x