I remember The Hunger Games being the biggest damn deal in college because I was brave (ha ha) enough to criticise one aspect of it on one occasion and I got shouted down so fast it was like getting one of Katniss’s arrows in the back. I also remember that it was pointed out, more than once, that however unintentionally it might have been, the series rather resembled the Japanese novel Battle Royale.
So, for today’s mini reviews, let’s take a quick look at every book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, and then a look at the novel it’s been accused of copying! This is going to be a fun one for me.
… I have a history with this series.
1. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
“Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”
There’s no denying that the first in this series is my favourite. In this novel, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to battle in the Hunger Games so that her sister doesn’t have to, despite it meaning she will most likely die.
This is probably the most well constructed of all the novels in this series. The set up of “only one can live” creates real tension, and as we’re watching the politics before the Games and then the life-threatening Games themselves, a real page turner is created. This novel also manages to sneak in some interesting details—for example, it’s hinted that the Capitol may not be as rich as it claims via the food that they eat, and that Capitol representative Effie is also being controlled, her life under threat. The book is exciting, tense, and the characters are interesting enough to really keep me engaged.
This book does have its problems. Like, that’s not how weapons work. Or dictatorships. But for the most part, I could ignore that. The plot and characters carry this one well, and I enjoy reading this book enough to have read it four or five times at this point.
2. “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”
I think this is the weakest in the trilogy. In a lot of ways, it felt like filler until the third book. Also, I think that Katniss being in another Hunger Games is a weaker plot in terms of character development than her having to mentor another tribute, as would be typical in this world. It’s also, um … kind of a plot that didn’t need the protagonist? I mean, sure, I guess I get why she didn’t know what was going on, but it also meant that we didn’t and that in the end her actions didn’t contribute enough to make her an active protagonist, and that’s a real shame if you ask me.
Also? Everyone is needlessly dickish to Katniss, considering that she’s the spark of the revolution and a human being. Peeta’s not that great, guys.
3. “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
“Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”
I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first. It doesn’t have the same thrilling tension as the first, I guess. It’s not as much of a page turner. To add to that, I found this one just a tad more predictable. Katniss is a lot more proactive in this one, though! And it’s not filler. Stuff happens! And when it does happen, it’s often exciting! Some people are bothered by the one teenage hero saving everyone thing, but not me. It’s YA fiction. It goes with the territory. Plus, we get last minute heartbreak and Katniss being an ass. So that’s cool. Not as strong as the first book, maybe, but still exciting.
4. “Battle Royale” by Koushun Takami
“And so Yoshimi heard the dry pop one more time. Her forehead felt as if it were being crushed by a car. That was all.”
Okay. I love this book. I ended up reading it because of The Hunger Games and I LOVE this book. People who think that The Hunger Games is too graphic may want to give this one a miss, as this story of forty school kids battling to the death is not afraid to show the very worst side of human nature. We get a count down of the kids, upping the tension. Unlike THG, every death is shown. All the characters are also named and developed to a point, even if they only appear for one chapter. Despite a character getting through cigarettes faster than I thought physically possible, this book got me and didn’t let go. Well worth a read if you don’t mind some gore.
Have you read these books? If you have, what did you think of them? I’d love to hear from you!