Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy Mini-Reviews

*WARNING: Some small spoilers may abound.*

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins — 384 pgs

I know I'm probably one of the last people in the blogosphere to jump on The Hunger Games bandwagon, but here I am all the same! Though I've resisted the impulse to pick up these books, when Mockingjay was finally released, I realized I couldn't wait any longer and gave in. Actually, everyone in my house is reading these books simultaneously. My husband and I are listening to the trilogy on audio and my kids are passing the books back and forth among themselves. When I finally got started, I was excited to find that I loved the book and found it constantly thrilling and exciting. Collins has unusual talent and a superb mastery of her plot, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Narrative aside, I found the characters and their plights to be quite genuine, though I did wonder at Katniss' thick-headedness at times. I was eager to push forward through the book, and easily gulped down chapter after chapter. For the most part, the plot twists came as a surprise to me, though there were a few that I saw coming—like the unfortunate fate of Rue and the relationship that eventually develops between the two main characters. There were some things that I didn't see coming at all and was shocked to learn about, particularly towards the end. I really loved the world that Collins created and found that she was extremely good at world building and stage setting. When I finally came to the end, I was wondering where this series was going next, what the fate of Peeta and Katniss be, and just what would happen in District 12. I started the second book right away, knowing that I couldn't leave these questions unanswered for long!



Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins — 400 pgs

The second book in this trilogy met with a little less success with my husband and me. For the most part, I felt that a lot of the first section seemed directionless, and it took me awhile to warm up to the fact that this book was not going to be the action packed thrill ride that The Hunger Games was. I got used to the meandering way of the plot, but I felt that the love triangle was a little awkward and the sections about life in District 12 after the games was a little plodding. It's not that I thought that this was a bad book, it's just that it was very different from what I had come to expect from Collins. Just when I had gotten used to the fact that this was going to be a more sedate and functional story, the tables turned on me and we were back in the Hunger Games again. I must say that while interesting, the games didn't have the same bite or originality as they did in the first book, and a lot of the time I was wondering why Collins had such trouble recreating the thrilling and original bits that kept me excited and engrossed in the first book. These games seemed more like a plot contrivance, and while I did find them interesting, my excitement just wasn't at the same sustained level as it had been in the previous book. Don't get me wrong, there were some really good moments, but overall we felt a little underwhelmed with it all and I began to fear what was coming in the final installment. I think if this book was plotted a little more tightly and the action was more riveting I would have had a better time with it. As it was, I would probably have to give it a C in terms of plot, narration, and character development.



Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins — 400 pgs

Oh boy! What to say about this book? I dreaded the time I had to spend listening to it and often made a mockery of all the ansgty drama in the audio production.  It was terrible, and most nights, I would fall asleep and have my husband recap it the next morning. The narrative was all over the place, and I felt it didn't really know what type of story it wanted to be. Evil Peeta? Soldier Everdeen? C'mon, really? Sometimes intriguing premises would pop up, never to be mentioned again, and what the book did chose to focus on was repetitive, boring and really of no interest to me. I didn't want a revolution and military story, and would have much preferred a personal tale that dealt with the fallout of having been a Hunger Games survivor. I even would have taken another Hunger Games. As it was, this book was filled with all kinds of violence that wasn't only unnecessary but felt forced just for shock value. And what was up with District 13? It was all just so much dreck, and I found myself becoming hardened to the plight of most of the characters. Sometimes it seemed that the book had lost all direction and focus and was just a random jumble of scenes placed together in some sort of puzzling arrangement that really turned me off. My husband didn't like it either but felt we must push through, no matter what. The book put me in a bad mood and I started getting very angry when it was time to settle down and listen, creating all sorts of tension and negative feelings. As good as the first book was, this one was just as equally bad, and I was so glad when we had finally reached the last chapter that I danced around the room in joy.



All in all, this series was hit and miss for me. I definitely felt that the books went downhill as they went on, and whereas I loved and gulped down the first book, by the time the third book rolled around I was a lot less enamored of what Collins had done with the series. In the audiobook production there was a brief interview with Collins after the end, and she mentioned the fact that she had written an overarching outline for all three books at one time. This seems rather strange to me, because the latter books, especially the third, felt like it was a very forced and rushed affair, and it was hard for me to imagine that Collins had done it this way on purpose. In my opinion, I think we should have stopped after the first book, or perhaps even the second, as by the time I finished the third book, I was just wrung out and in a very unhappy state of mind.

28 comments:

JaneGS said...

Interesting--I've read the first book, after seeing the movie with my kids, and really liked it. I'm waiting for my daughter to finish the second book so that I can read it next. My son says the third book is his favorite...but he's 17, so target audience is all I can figure given your review.

It's too bad Collins wasn't able to maintain a consistent approach throughout the books. I think a lot of authors botch their endings, and it seems that Collins is no exception.

Wall-to-wall books said...

Well this is one series I will not be reading! I don't think there is anything wrong with them, I am just not interested in the least.
I've gotta hand it you though for reading them!

bermudaonion said...

Carl felt like you did - the first book was the best.

I didn't love The Hunger Games - I think it suffered in comparison to Battle Royale, which I read first. Battle Royale is much more brutal but it's told from alternating points of view so you don't know who will survive until the end.

Harvee Lau said...

Saw the movie of the Hunger Games but may not read the trilogy. Congrats on finishing all three books! They are so popular; sorry they didn't make the grade all the way through.

nomadreader said...

I share your dislike for the third book. I still think the second novel was by far the strongest, but I seem to be in the minority about that one! I liked the first one, but it fell a little flat for me when I actually started thinking about it. I'm glad you finally got to experience this series though!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've only read the first one and like you, really liked it. I've heard very similar responses to the other two books in this trilogy though...so much that I've considered not even reading them. I haven't seen the movie and won't if I don't finish the books. I'll probably try to tackle them while I'm off this summer.

Vasilly said...

I have the same thoughts about this series. I loved the first book, enjoyed the second one, and didn't bother to finish the third. After reading Kathy's comment, maybe we should read Battle Royale? :-)

iklan rumah said...

this cool series, but the first book is the starter, I am enjoyed reading all series

Suko said...

Thank you for these well-written, concise, and honest mini reviews! I haven't read this trilogy, even though just about everyone else has, but I did see The Hunger Games movie, which I felt was quite absorbing but also too violent.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I would agree with you...maybe the author had more time to spend on the first novel and was more careful? We enjoyed the second, although maybe not as much as the first (oh, we're doing this all AGAIN?), but that last one was a hot mess. Like someone had a gun to her head and she was scratching some crap out as fast as she could to save her life. The kids and I, all three of us, became foul when we "had" to listen to it. We knew we had to finish, but it wasn't much fun.

DCMetroreader said...

I adored the movie and really want to read this triology!

Great reviews!

Aarti said...

Like Vasilly, I really liked the first book in this series, and then lost steam after the second. Like you, it just seemed like a rehash, and I was sick of all the scenes in which poor Katniss had to make out with poor Peeta. I didn't even bother to read the third book. I don't know why YA books all have so many love triangles now.

Ti said...

I enjoyed the first book but thought it had been done before (Logan's Run, The Running Man, etc). I kept reading because I wanted to know where she'd take it. I was less than thrilled with the last book. In fact, I hated it. BUT, I give the author credit because she got a lot of kids to read.

Jenners said...

I felt exactly the same way!! The first book blows up with a bang and then it just goes downhill from there. In a way, I wish she had just written the first book.

Marg said...

I agree that this series peaked at book 1 and then went a bit downhill from there. I was disappointed that book 2 was more of the same, and really disliked the epilogue in book 3. They are pretty compulsive page turners though.

Jenny said...

Your review for Mockingjay made me chuckle,.. hehe. I actually liked Catching Fire the best, LOL, but I was not as into the series as everyone else either.

Athira said...

At least you read it and you no longer have to feel that anxious feeling when someone discusses the book and you feel out of the loop. LOL! I hear what you say. I had pretty much the same issues with the series, but they didn't bother me as much as they did you. The third book bugged me a lot - Katniss was such a pain! And that ending was over-dramatic.

Kari said...

I like these reviews! I too hopped on board super late and actually just read the first one last month. I was surprised that I enjoyed it, but unlike you, I didn't have any desire to move forward in the series. And now, according to your thoughts, I'm not sorry that a coworker already spoiled the ending for me! I don't think I'm missing out.

Andi said...

I loved the first book, but all the iffy reviews I've read of the others make me not want to go on. Oh, and I did put Catching Fire down after 75 pages. Just wasn't doing anything for me.

Arrgh!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I'm so sorry you didn't love this series! I guess I'm in the minority here because I actually liked Mockingjay, LOL! To each his own right?

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the trilogy, Heather. You always show such great insight! I actually preferred the second book to the first and the third and enjoyed the final book. I wasn't blown away by the books, but I did enjoy them overall.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love your review of all three, and agree with them. I especially love envisioning you dancing around the room! LOLOL But like others said, one "has" to read all three....

Jenny said...

I agree completely with everything you said about every book in this trilogy. I didn't have quite the same frustration reaction, but damn, if I'd been listening to them on audio -- and unable to skim forward -- I know I would have.

Stacy at A Novel Source said...

you summed up my thoughts on the series PERFECTLY! When I discovered that there was a short story so similar to The Hunger Games I had to read it - it's called The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and can be found at http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/lotry.html
it's so curious to me how The Hunger Games had everything - character, plot, writing...but as the next two went on I really wondered if I was reading the same author?
love this summation Heather!

Kay said...

Ah, I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy the series more! I remember that reading Mockingjay the first time, I was feeling very similar to you and dreaded it when I re-read the series not long ago. Weirdly enough I really enjoyed it the second time around, but I can relate to what you mentioned here, especially with Distric 13. Catching fire was my least favorite, feeling very much like a transition between beginning and end.
I know many readers felt like you though, so you are certainly not alone! While I enjoyed the third one, I agree with you that we could certainly have stopped at book 1.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I had the same experience with this series. I loved the first book immensely, but the second one fell flat, and then the third annoyed me also. Hopefully the movies will spin it a little better? *fingers crossed*

Jules said...

I enjoyed the trilogy, but also thought the angst and love triangle became cringe worthy. I also felt that the ending of the series was written more for what the fans wanted, and not how the book should have naturally flowed to. I did enjoy the second one more than you, but you made some excellent points about them.

Anonymous said...

SO happy I'm finding reviews like this. I just finished Mockingjay (or Sinsajo as I read it since I chose to read it in Spanish), and I'm relatively disappointed in it all. All of the books kept me pretty hooked, but I was hoping for a more satisfying end. We'll see what the movie producers can create for the second and third books...

Post a Comment

 
Blogger Template by Delicious Design Studio