Book Review: The Hunger Games Triology

Hunger_gamesThe best books of recent years have all been Young Adult (YA) books.

Serious fiction books have become bogged down in self indulgent language and inside jokes. Chick lit has segued into the Chick Memoirs. A young hip New York girl discovers true happiness and love by working on a farm, cooking fancy dishes, or joining a harem. If I read another book about how a woman finds true meaning in life through yoga, I will puke up my organic, locally grown, fava bean salad. 

 YA books aren't bogged down by pretensions of great literature or by formulaic memoirs. The best writers of our generation have decided to follow J.K. Rowling into the world of great plots and action and big advances. 

This week, I plowed through two of three books in the Hunger Games Trilogy. The first in the series, The Hunger Games, was so good that I read it twice. 

The Hunger Games is part Shirley Jackson's lottery, part Thunderdome, part Survivor, and part Sparta and the Helots. After a series of terrible natural disasters, North America is controlled by the Capital. The Capital uses terror to keep control over the territories and the people who provide the natural resources for them. One of their means of terrorizing the territories or the Districts is make each of the 12 Districts pick two children's names from a hat. Those 24 children then must fight each other to the death in an arena. The drama plays out on television screens across the country. The story follows the story of Catniss and Peeta as they enter the Hunger Games. 

The second in the series, Catching Fire, isn't as good. It suffers from The Two Towers syndrome. Too much of the book is a set up for the final fight in the third book. Still, the set up was excellent. I have the third book hidden up in my closet to give to Jonah as a Christmas present. Would it be terribly wrong,  if I read it first? 

6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hunger Games Triology

  1. The Two Towers was my favorite of the series. Also, Deathly Hallows was my favorite of that series. I think I like the penultimate more than the punchline.

  2. I taught Hunger Games in my intro lit class last spring, alongside “The Lottery” (which I’d never taught before) and “Battle Royal” (often anthologized first chapter of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). Our textbook also had a selection from Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which also made a nice thematic connection. And yet it’s the meta about reality tv and manufactured love stories that fascinates me in the books. I have a paper idea percolating, but by the time I get to it next summer, it’ll probably already have been written by someone else.

  3. when you’ve finished those, go back and read the Gregor books by the same author, also wonderful.
    Then try the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, my sons and I are anxiously awaiting the third installment; anything by Nancy Farmer.
    I started reading YA because I wanted to find good books for my boys, I keep reading them because so many are excellent.

  4. I’d completely forgotten that the Gregor books was by the same author. Definitely worth reading.
    My daughter’s review of both of the series were that they were too angst ridden/dark for her (Gregor constantly, and realistically, bemoans the unfairness of a 12 year old being put in charge of saving the universe. Catniss’s world is pretty dark, and the victories are bittersweet).
    Of course you have to read the last book. If you’re very careful, I think that J. will forgive you (well, unless he has a blanket disapproval of you’re knowing what happens before he does).

  5. I agree that nothing is really catching my attention in the adult literature.
    I’ve been reading the Dresden Files books. I like them, but they are too formulaic in individual books, though there’s a moderately interesting overall story arc.
    I have enjoyed Guy Gavreil Kay, though I like the older Tigana & Fionaver Tapestry series better than the newer books (just listened to those as audible books, after having read them a while ago).
    I am also bored with the “woman discovers happiness through . . . .” books. I think chic lit has devolved from the chick lit I liked (Maeve Binchy, Marian Keys) to mostly ugh (Cecilia Ahern) — to stay in the irish chick lit genre.
    I’m reading an awful lot of YA fiction, too.

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