Upon completing the series myself this week, I have to agree with them that the first book was the superior of the three, when the freshness of the horrifying premise and the abject inhumane cruelty of the Games still shocked you. (Twenty-four children, ages 12-18, are selected and forced by the government to “play” a game where the last one living “wins” as the government forces them to compete to the death by intensifying the lethal conditions and broadcasting the entire competition on live TV.)
Catching Fire, was shocking anew in that the “winners” are forced by the government into more deadly competition, both as punishment for the populace for rebelling decades ago (to warn them about rebelling against the all-powerful, dictatorship) and for the purpose of entertaining those in the opulent, wasteful Capitol. Catching Fire had more of a political feel to it as it became clearer that certain participants in the Games were being manipulated by various groups for political purposes.
I read the final book, Mockingjay -- which was indeed the bleakest, my daughter was right -- as the Arab spring of revolt, which had grown somewhat quiet in recent weeks, roared back to life in Libya as rebels tried to take down the dictatorship that had been brutally savaging its own people. Seeing people rioting in the streets, hearing the automatic machine-gun fire during live newscasts, while TV journalists donned protective helmets and bulletproof vests as they beamed images around the globe provided the backdrop for my reading of Mockingjay, where the oppressed districts of the nation of Panem revolted against their violent, oppressive ruler, with the series’ heroine, Katniss Everdeen, serving as the living symbol of the revolution in the person of a 17-year-old girl.
After finishing Mockingjay – which I recommend for readers middle school and up – I've turned to something completely different, Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife, a fictionalized story about the life of a First Lady, based loosely on the real life of Laura Bush. Thus far I’m on page 248 (out of 555) and I’m a fan.
Have you read the Hunger Games series? If so, what did you think?
Image credits: Amazon.com.