I took a short break from the classics to indulge in a new series, I really like to read book series. When I was younger I read the Mossflower series by Brian Jaques and eventually my reading life changed when I was introduced to Harry Potter. I picked up the series late, starting The Philosophers/Sorcerers Stone when Prisoner of Azkaban was released but was enchanted with J.K Rowlings creation from the first few pages. I also loved the more adult but equally as addicting Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo et.al.) featuring characters that are so astonishingly difficult to like at times, but at others simply amazing. I was then directed by many people to The Hunger Games, again arriving late to the scene but becoming fully engrossed once I did.
Suzanne Collins paints an astonishing dystopian society and a strong cautionary tale of what could be (only ratcheted up to the nth degree). I really took away a warning of how senseless we can be sometimes with so much infighting and labeling that I just had to ask myself, why can’t we all get along? Do we actually live in a society that isn’t much different that Panem just without The Games? And the answer is not quite, we’re not Panem but we aren’t so United right now as we should be.
While this isn’t on my list I felt compelled to share and recommend these books as I can see them becoming young adult classics in the future. I can understand why schools have banned them, between Rue receiving a spear through her stomach or the concept of Katniss faking a relationship with Peeta for gain, but on the other hand it’s no more brutal than what we read about in history lessons at the same age. I really enjoy how the book plays on other elements from stories of the past, I can almost see The Gamemakers viewing themselves as gods in Homer’s epic Iliad practicing divine intervention while these kids were battling to the death in the arena. I also really enjoyed the similarities between Katniss and Theseus, the prince who volunteered to go “as tribute” with the suns of Athens to Crete and be sacrificed to the Minotaur.
Collin’s trilogy really picks up in the second book Catching Fire where there are twists you never see coming. Between the Quarter Quell’s theme of returning champions, to the alliances made by Katniss and Peeta as well as their mentor Haymitch Catching Fire is a forward driving, page turning thrill. The second book really is a table setter for the crescendo that is Mockingjay, the third book. Katniss embodies the Mockingjay (a mutation created in the first war against the Capitol that began the Hunger Games) but Collins never really lets you completely fall in love with her main character.
Katniss has her flaws, she is as delicate as a cactus at times and often has an impenetrable wall up, but ultimately is driven to do what’s best. She is very conflicted throughout the books and is never told the whole story of anything that is going on, making you wonder who the real bad guys are. The love story takes some gut wrenching turns where you swear things between Katniss and Peeeta can never work or Gabe will swoop in and steal her heart.
Overall the Hunger Games Trilogy is a fantastic read that transcends ages. It’s target audience is a bit younger than I am but that doesn’t mean it loses any appeal. Much like the Harry Potter novels or the Shrek series of movies the books can and do appeal to all age groups. They’re as brutal as the Roman Coliseum, weave in a great love story, and if you stop and think it bears a strong message. Collins will not be mistaken for a master of prose with the Hunger Games books, but nobody can deny her wild creativity and breathtaking imagination and for that I can really call the Hunger Games an instant classic. (Plus I can’t wait for the movies, hope they do better representing the book than the Harry Potter series.)