Two days ago I finished reading Mockingjay, the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I've heard from many reliable sources (friends) that they're fantastic books and that I should read them. Once in my grasp I finished them within a week, and I find myself at a loss.
I think I simply wanted more from them, and I had to keep reminding myself (when I felt that the narrative was lacking) that they're young adult novels, which was probably accounting for some of my perceived inadequacies. But the story was definitely interesting and I believe that it was worth a trilogy.
Here follows a synopsis, spoilers, and thoughts on the story, so proceed at your own risk if you haven't read them yet.
The story focuses on a future Earth that is operating under a twisted government (called the Capital) that forces twenty four children, one boy and one girl from each of what are essentially the twelve poor districts of the world, to fight to the death once a year. This is supposedly a constant reminder that the government has complete control over their lives, and that if any sort of rebellion is formed then they have the power to kill every citizen. That is precisely what happened to the thirteenth district when they attempted an uprising.
Our protagonist Katniss ends up as a contestant (natch) and the readers follows her living hell through the battle arena, forced to kill fellow innocent teenagers in order to save her own life. She's in the arena with a boy named Peeta from her hometown, and together they beat the system of the Games and come out with both of them victorious.
The following two books follow Katniss as the Captial plots retaliation for her demonstrating that it's possible to make a fool of the Game makers. She and Peeta are forced into the arena of the Games once again, and ultimately a rebellion forms among the aforementioned districts and the Capital is taken down. Katniss is the unwilling head of the rebellion, forced into a whole new set of Games, her life constantly used as a pawn for the fulfillment of another person's agenda.
Interspersed through the war and murder is a love triangle between Katniss, her childhood friend Gale, and her arena-mate Peeta. Katniss and Peeta pretend to be in love through the first and second games, garnering the attention and sympathies of the richer citizens who enjoy watching the children slay one another in the Hunger Games. Of course Peeta is actually in love with Katniss, so there go your heart strings.
Katniss constantly worries about how Gale will feel seeing her "in love" with Peeta, seeing as the Games are televised through all regions for all citizens, poor and rich, to watch. It feels as though the story is supposed to have readers wondering who will ultimately win Katniss's heart, but it really seemed plain from the start that Peeta would come out on top.
Mockingjay ended abruptly, with a brief epilogue included. The first two books ended abruptly as well, I thought, and I'm guessing they were cliffhanger tactics.
I enjoyed them, they were certainly worth reading and I can imagine myself reading them again in the future. My largest issue simply rests with the writing style, which I feel badly for saying. There were so many points where chunks of the story felt glazed over, with a paragraph quickly describing days worth of information; opportunities to describe things in more detail, add to a character's background, pull the reader further into the world. They just felt wasted. Sad face.
After finishing the series I sat thinking, unmoving for a while. There's always that odd period of reflection when a book is over, those moments where characters and worlds begin to slip away from my imagination. I immediately miss them, and feel emptiness where before the book I never even knew there was space to be filled.
I am jazzed for the movies to come out. Every promo I've seen has been promising and I am looking forward to seeing the characters and locations come to life.