Aaand then my husband kind of insisted on watching the Hunger Games movie. I refused for a while, but eventually, between him and my many friends who are Hunger Games fans, I gave in. Yet while I was watching it, I couldn't figure out if I hated it, or if I thought it was okay. And I felt as if there was a lot of information/story missing.
Which meant, of course, that I needed to read the books.
(From here on, please assume that this series review contains at LEAST minor spoilers for all three books)
My first thought upon reading the first book in the series - that being, of course, The Hunger Games - was that book!Katniss is definitely far superior to, and more realistic than, movie!Katniss. Part of this is certainly thanks to being able to see into Katniss's head in the novel...because it shows that she isn't such a ridiculous goody-two-shoes as the movie makes her out to be. (Side note: I did like how The Hunger Games *movie* gave us insight into people like Seneca Crane and Caesar Flickerman, something that the books couldn't give us because they were written in first person, from Katniss's point of view. Unfortunately, as I've already said, this meant that a lot of Katniss's nuances, who she was and what she struggled with, was lost in the movie adaptation, turning her into a character who appears far too good for her own, well, good.)
Of course, at the same time I find book!Katniss a bit hard to belive when it comes to her feelings (or lack of them) for Gale and her feelings (or lack of them) for Peeta. I suppose we readers are supposed to put this down to the whole dystopian society/basically going through life simply trying not to starve thing, but there's still a small part of me that can't wrap my head around the fact that a 16-year-old girl who has two supposedly kind, smart, and attractive boys throwing themselves at her would really not know *at all* (in any way, shape, or form) how she feels about either of them, whether she has more-than-friendship feelings for either of them, etc.
Which brings me to Peeta, because Peeta...well, he's just too good to be true. The only way his character ever could have worked for me in The Hunger Games is if both he and Katniss were both faking - or at least sort of faking - their "romance". The entire time.
Though maybe that's just because I'm jaded. Who knows.
And then...the grammar/style in THG. Ugh, ugh, UGH. Misplaced modifiers and comma splices (and I think even a few Oxford comma errors) all. over. the darn. place. Not as bad as the Twilight series (and thank God for that, because I wouldn't have been able to stand it at all if it had been)...but still simply. not. good. End of story.
Moving on to Catching Fire...while The Hunger Games would have been pretty predictable even if I hadn't been hearing about it from friends left and right before ever seeing the movie/reading it...Catching Fire took predictable to a whole new level. I mean, if the Hunger Games happened again in one of these books, I think it's pretty obvious that Katniss and Peeta would have to be involved as more than just mentors. Thankfully, the grammar/style of writing in Catching Fire seemed a bit better than it was in The Hunger Games, EXCUSE ME BUT *NO ONE* CAN USE THE "I LOVE YOU"/"I KNOW" THING BUT STAR WARS/HAN & LEIA. ::end mini rant::
So, last but not least I picked up Mockingjay (I'd say "finally", but to be completely honest I read all three of these books in about five days). This was the installment that I'd heard the most complaints about; it seemed as if most people favored THG or Catching Fire and thought that Mockingjay was either the weakest of the bunch - or outright *bad*. Maybe it's because of this that I went into it not expecting all that much...and was therefore pretty surprised when it turned out to be my favorite book in the series.
Yes, I just said that Mockingjay was, in my opinion, the best book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Yes, it did have its slow moments, but let's be honest - so did THG and Catching Fire. I also felt as if it was far less predictable than either of those books. In fact, as predictability and poor story telling goes, I feel that Catching Fire was in fact the weakest link in the trilogy. And I have to give Suzanne Collins credit - she did what even J.K. Rowling didn't do in the Harry Potter series.
Collins killed off *enough* important characters.
Now, I still believe that Katniss should have ended up alone, but at this point in time I'm beginning to resign myself to the fact that all YA novels apparently need to have a love story...and not just any love story, but one that ends happily. ::this is me, rolling my eyes::
In the end, my verdict? The Hunger Games trilogy is definitely not of the best quality, writing-wise.
I still find it difficult nearly impossible to believe that Suzanne Collins knew nothing about Battle Royale before writing the Hunger Games trilogy, and I therefore wish she'd just admitted, from the very beginning, to having used that as the basis for the Hunger Games.
But...I generally enjoyed it. It was a quick, interesting read, and to be completely honest I'll probably eventually read the trilogy again. Due to the generally if-fy writing and the similarities to Battle Royale, though, I can only give the series as a whole 3.5/5 stars.
From The Hunger Games:
"All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games. Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate?"
From Catching Fire:
"'I just can't wait for the whole thing to be over,' I whisper.
'I know,' says Greasy Sae. 'But you've got to go through it to get to the end of it. Better not be late.'"
"...what is the worst pain? To me, it's always the pain that is present."
"'Don't worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don't hurt anyone but myself.'"
"'Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?' I ask.
'Oh, not now. Now we're in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,' he says. 'But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.'"
"...what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that."