Rip Roaring, Bare-Knuckle adventure of the Best Kind
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay are the three books in this trilogy. It should be remembered that the books are written for the teenage reader and as such some of the story lines seem a bit naive to an adult reader. However, the rather bleak vision of the future is very thought provoking.
The first book sets the scene. The Hunger Games is based in a nation called Panem which is broken up into 13 Districts, each of which provide resources to the ruling city called the Capitol. Although not specifically referred too, Panem is probably a post apocalypse North America. There are some clues in the text such as some of the names of the Districts, such as “Appalachia” and it cannot be a co-incidence that there are 13 Districts in Panem the same number as the original States of America.
In Panem’s past District 13, rebelled but failed to bring down the Capitol. In retribution the rulers of the Capitol raised District 13 to the ground and established the annual Hunger Games to remind the other Districts of the all pervading power of the Capitol.
The Hunger Games involve, selecting, by lottery, two tributes (a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 - 18 years) from each District, who will take part in a fight to the death in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol. Only one individual is allowed to survive.
We meet sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen, who takes her sister’s place in the games and has too fight for her life. Of course, as there are two further books, it is inevitable that she does survive, but there is a nice twist, which ensures that Peeta, her friend/sweetheart, also survives. However, by her actions, Katniss is seen by the Leader of Capitol, President Snow, as a potential threat and by the end of the first book, it is clear that there will be trouble ahead.
The second book, Catching Fire, starts with Katniss & Peeta, travelling around the Districts as part of their responsibilities for surviving the games. However, President Snow warns Katniss that the method she used to survive the games with Peeta, could be seen as an act of rebellion against the Capitol and as the story progresses a deepening animosity builds up between the President and Katniss. In an attempt to stamp out any rebellion, the President changes the rules of the Hunger Games and insists that previous games survivors (which includes Katniss and Peeta), will have to take part in the next event. From this point onwards there are many similarities between book one and two. However the method, by which Katniss and others survive these games is a good twist in the story. The second book ends with a rebellious atmosphere building up in Panem. Katniss, although badly hurt is recovering in District 13 but unfortunately Peeta has been captured and is held in the Capitol. Everything is now set for the final story and the big battle between the rebellion forces and those of the Capitol.
In the third book, Mockinjay, Katniss has now become the figurehead for the rebellion. The leader of the rebellion, President Coin, use her for propaganda purposes and needs to ensure that she is not captured or killed by the Capitol forces, so she is not allowed to go into battle as fighting spreads across Panem. However, Katniss being Katniss, she ends up in the thick of it again as she is determined to be the person who kills President Snow. However once again there is a twist in the story as Katniss does indeed kill a President, but which one? Like all good stories the loose ends are tied up and the final book leaves the reader, knowing how Katniss’s life progresses.
I am not a fast reader, unless a story grabs my attention, so for me to read these three books in quick succession says something. At times I did find the teenage romance angst a bit aggravating, but as I said at the start of this review, the core audience for these books are teenagers. And I did think that the author was a bit lazy with the contrived story line that enabled Katniss to become involved in a second Hunger Games. But overall this trilogy was well worth a read.
Reviewed on 02/12/2012 by Peter
Reviewed item details
Hunger Games:ISBN 978-1-407109-08-4
Catching Fire: ISBN 978-1-407109-36-7
Mockingjay: ISBN 978-1-407109-37-4
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