Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book Review: Hunger Games Trilogy

Before I even start this blog let me say that there are spoilers ahead. If you have not read the Hunger Games trilogy yet and don't want the surprise to be ruined then STOP READING NOW!

So, I finished the Hunger Games trilogy today.
Last night I got about 30 or 40 pages from the end of book 3 and skimmed ahead because I really just wanted to see how it all ended. I went back today and finished those last few pages (and I really didn't miss much) and here's my take on the trilogy...

Book 1

By far the best book of the series. Everything was dramatic and perplexing. Right from the start you wonder why do the Hunger Games exist? How do these two clods from District 12 even have a chance? What's with the drunk guy? And, most importantly, isn't this all a little violent to classify as "young adult fiction" (and we wonder what's wrong with kids today...)?

What I liked:
  • Katniss comes out looking very B.A. in this book.
  • The berries. Unintentional genius. Good writing on Collins's part.

What I didn't like:
  • The whole thing with Peeta. Just...all of it. The kissing. The fact that he proclaimed his love for her and then sided with the Careers (albeit briefly). It's just so teen romance drama.
  • I also hated the ending with Cato and the mutts. 1. The mutts creep me out. 2. He had a truly horrific death. No one deserves that.

Book 2

I tore into this one hoping it would be as good as the first. No such luck. I felt like it was a 90% rewrite of the first book with more kick butt characters, a splash of back story, and a hugely confusing plot twist.

What I liked:
  • Meeting some new characters who were pretty B.A. themselves.
  • Getting a little more understanding of why the Hunger Games exist.

What I didn't like:
  • The fact that we went from the explanation of the Quarter Quell to Katniss being whisked away to the Capital in about 10 pages (not really but pretty close).
  • As mentioned, I feel like the book was a 90% rewrite of the first. Blah, blah, blah...Hunger Games again! Blah, blah,, blah, extended detail of what happens in the arena...blah, blah, blah...plot twist!
  • After Katniss blows the force field and is rescued the entire rebel back story is given in 3 or 4 pages. How do we go from the beginning of the book where we have no idea that 13 still exists to having a fully operational, underground District harboring nuclear weapons?!?! (For the record, I actually predicted the exact reason why District 13 still existed.)

Book 3

Ugh...I can't even. Worst book of the series by far. Made me want to throat punch someone.

What I liked:
  • Very little. I will say that when it all shook down I was glad that Katniss ended up with Peeta. I was originally team Gale until I found out he didn't even like Katniss "that way" until 6 months before she went into her 1st Hunger Games. Peeta always carried a torch for Katniss, even if he did resent her sometimes for not always feeling that way about him. Also, Gale was a warmonger who may or may not have contributed to the death of Prim. To even be able to fall in love with him fully and completely Katniss was going to have to do a lot of convincing (both herself and Gale). Plus, I think Gale would always have been hankering for more action than someone with severe PTSD could handle. On a side note, how is Katniss even a semi-functioning human being at the end of all this?!?!
  • As twisted as it is, I actually liked that fact that Snow kept his promise not to lie to Katniss. In the end the one person she could trust was her sworn enemy.

What I didn't like:
  • Again, same song, different verse. It's another episode of the Hunger Games. Katniss blatantly announces that fact in the war room just before going to the Capital (so much for subtlety). 
  • So much time between the beginning of the book and the actual action.
  • Finnick. I'm actually lurid about the fact that he dies. And at the hands of those stinking mutts (I freaking *hate* those things). What did his death accomplish?!?! Nothing!!! Johanna should have been killed. Sorry Jo but you were not vital to the plot line AT ALL. And yet she manages to survive?!? And Finnick, who just regained a semi-normal life and married the girl of his dreams after exposing the Capital and all it's shenanigans, ends up dead?!?! Ridiculous. 
  • Some of the "coincidental" things that happen in the book are really poorly written. Take, for example, the commercials they film. For the 1st one they need Katniss to say something brilliant. So they try and stage it. When that doesn't work they send her directly into a war zone. Nevermind that like 3 pages before this she was in the hospital. And then she just happens to deliver the perfect, rebel-rousing line. Funny how that happens...
  • Prim. I understand her death was pivotal to ending things and getting Katniss to have a realization about Coin but it just sucked. What sucked even worse was when Katniss's mother was so overcome with grief she couldn't even talk to or visit her other daughter, let alone go live with her and take care of her again (we'll just leave that to the drunk, sounds like a great idea :::rolls eyes:::). Because what every survivor of trauma needs is to go live on their own in a place that likely triggers them 24/7 with no supervision or outlet. Perfect parenting.

I really like it when a book is really well thought out and when you get to the end and all the pieces have fallen into place you want to gasp because suddenly everything makes sense. This trilogy didn't provide that for me. I figure Collins was going for an analogy by making all the books so similar...a Hunger Games (in different "arenas" each time), Katniss being manipulated by others, grisly death scenes, and one shining moment in each book where Katniss figures out what's really going on and pulls a brilliant move which changes everything...but really it was a little too much. At least she wrapped up all the loose ends. I've already seen some of the 1st movie but I won't be watching any of the rest. The whole premise of children killing each other and the depictions of the death scenes is a little too much for me. Plus, I really, really, REALLY do not want to see the mutts (my disdain for them runs quite deep if you haven't figured it out).

My final rating: 7 out of 10

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