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The Hunger Games Trilogy: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay


Suzanne Collins


Scholastic Books

Release Dates:

14.September.2008, 1.September.2009, and 24.August.2010


young adult, post-apocalyptic sci-fi

Reviewed by:

I had never heard of this series until i stumbled across the trailer for the upcoming film version. The premise seemed intriguing, so i did some reading up on it, and eventually bought and read the series.

The books are set in a distant future where humanity has survived some kind of apocalypse and people are rather scarce. The main characters live in one of thirteen (actually fourteen, but one is hidden until book three) cities, which are called "Districts". The characters home city holds about 9,000 people, and is in area "once-called Appalachia". All of the cities/Districts (except for the hidden one) are ruled by "The Capitol", which is in the Rockies. None of the Districts seems to have a lot of people, and no one really lives outside of the cities. Towards the end of the trilogy, when there is open warfare, a few scientists start voicing concern that if too many people are killed in the fighting, the very survival of the human species might be threatened.

The exact nature of the apocalypse that got humanity to this point is never stated, which makes sense in the context of the books because the characters are just trying to survive in that world. How things got the way they are is a secondary consideration to starving coal miners sent to fight for the amusement of their conquerors.

The first two books mostly deal with The Hunger Games, a reality show style gladiatorial combat that the children from the Districts are forced to participate in by The Capitol. The games are popular entertainment, and also a retaliation for a rebellion seventy-four years before the first book, when the Districts rebelled against the fascistic control of The Capitol. The Capitol crushed the rebellion, and since then one teenage boy and one teenage girl from each of the 12 conquered Districts are sent to fight to the death. Our main characters, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, are chosen to fight for District 12, their distant coal-mining home that i imagine as being somewhere in West Virginia. Both books one and two deal directly with the two characters struggling to survive in a high-tech arena while surrounded by genetically engineered threats, high-tech weapons, and other gladiators. Collins does a really good job with these scenes, portraying the paranoid terror the characters go through to survive.

By the third book of the series, Katniss has become a sort of symbol for a new rebellion, one spurred on by anger over The Hunger Games as well as the general fascist oppression that the Capitol forces on the other cities. Katniss becomes a propaganda tool used by the hidden city against the capitol. The final book also deals with how she and Peeta are basically suffering from PTSD after having survived gladiatorial combat. Those parts of the book were kind of slow (Katniss spends about a third of the last book hiding, sulking, and trying to heal from a long series of wounds), but i think the author did a good job of capturing the way people struggle to survive inhumane situations. At least, i guess so -- i live in suburban Atlanta and have never been through anything like what the characters went through, so i am kind of extrapolating. It seems pretty realistic to me but if you have actually been through real trauma your opinion may differ.

The books are written for a young adult audience, so the writing style is crisp and easy to follow. However, there is a lot of brutality. Teenagers kill one another for sport, just because that is what they are expected to do. I guess that is okay for young adults. In fact, now that i think about it, the last young adult novel i reviewed, Shipbreaker also got really violent at times. Huh.

Anyway, all three books move at a good pace, and i tore through them in about a week. They were entertaining and kept my interest, and now i look forward to seeing the movie based on this.

If you like science-fiction, this trilogy is an interesting, easy read.

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