Everyone has at least heard of, if not seen the Hunger Games movies starring Jennifer Lawrence as the protagonist Katniss Everdeen. With the upcoming final installment due out November 2015 the series will finally come to a close. However, much like the Harry Potter series the books that the Hunger Games was originally based on continue to sell and inspire its readers. But despite all the hype, is the Hunger Games book really any good?
The hunger games trilogy focuses on Katniss Everdeen and her fight against the corrupt Capital government. In the series North America lies in ruins and is renamed Panem. The country is broken down in to 12 districts with varying levels of poverty and The Capital serving as the hub of the country with the majority of its residents living in luxury. The hunger games themselves are a contest with “tributes” selected from each district to compete in a death match for the entertainment of the wealthy in The Capital. During the games Katniss rebels against The Capitals rulings during the game forcing them to relent and naming her and her partner Peeta also from district 12 the winners. During their celebration rebellion starts to spread throughout the districts as a result of Katniss’s actions during the games. President Snow takes drastic action and announces the next hunger games will be all past winners of the games. This ends up backfiring spectacularly when all the contestants team up to destroy the arena and escape. Katniss ends up teaming up with the rebels from the former district 13 and vows to kill President Snow should the rebels win. In the end the rebels win and as Katniss goes to execute President Snow informs her that the leader of the rebels actually set up the attack that killed several children and left her in the hospital. Katniss then kills the rebel leader and President Snow dies from blood loss due to laughing to death.
Overall the books themselves aren’t much different from many other young adult stories. It has all the hallmarks of standard young adult novels; a defiant and strong young women, a love triangle, an establishment that only has its own interests in mind to fight against, coming out ahead despite diversity and hardship. For this reason Hunger Games doesn’t break much ground on an already overly saturated genre. While dystopian literature is generally the realm of high end science fiction authors Suzanne Collins does do a good job of establishing the setting without getting too hung up on the details. Another major high point was the use of recurve bows as the established weapon of the protagonist. In the first book she obtains and uses one from another tribute after they are killed. She eventually ends up getting an enhanced bow that responses to her voice and can fire a number of different arrows; explosive, regular or incendiary. This is significant as traditionally you do not see bows let alone recurve bows used by women as a major weapon in literature. While any number of symbolic metaphors could be attributed to this I give brownie points to Suzanne Collins for doing this and depicting its use fairly accurately within the context of her story. Overall the Hunger Games Trilogy isn’t nearly all it’s cracked up to be but does offer an enjoyable story that despite it being standard fair does make for a fun time.