The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games / Catching Fire / Mockingjay)

Reviewer: Cathy Zhang

Author: Suzanne Collins

Published: 2008 / 2009 / 2010

Reviewed: 2011-02-06

Publisher: Scholastic Press

The Hunger Games is an engaging trilogy comprised of "The Hunger
Games," "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay." The trilogy tells the
story of Katniss Everdeen, a spirited 16-year-old girl, as she endures
the trials of the "Hunger Games," an annual event in a
post-apocalyptic world where North American civilization has been
largely destroyed and the survivors live in the nation of Panem,
approximately located in present-day Appalachia. Seventy-four years
ago, the thirteen districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol,
resulting in the annihilation of district thirteen and the creation of
the Hunger Games as punishment for the rebellion. Every year since,
each district has been required to send two tributes, a boy and a
girl, chosen by lottery to fight to the death in the dreaded arena
until only one survivor, the victor, remains. And now, in the 74th
year, Katniss has *volunteered* to compete, sacrificing herself to
take her little sister's place.

Katniss finds herself thrown into two new worlds: the arena, where
savagery reigns supreme and fragile alliances dissolve at the
slightest suspicion of betrayal, and the Capitol, where political
games and statements that she doesn't understand are played and woven
around her. Her attempts to navigate through both worlds are an
interesting study of both her character and the post-apocalyptic world
that Collins has created. The connections Katniss makes with her
fellow competitors manage to illuminate varying facets of their
characters but also of the differences between the twelve districts
that they have been culled from.

The writing style is simple but fairly eloquent; at times Collins
paints striking scenes complete with evocative scents and accompanying
sounds, though other times she omits details on her way to the main
occurrences in a particular setting. The story is craftily woven,
switching focus between the intimate world of the game arena and the
bigger view of political world with ease. Her words are not wasted;
each mention of a detail such as a name or color is calculated to add
to the image in the reader's mind or set up more framework for the
world that will be referenced later on. The plot twists are not
forced, and yet can still manage to take one by surprise; the title of
the final part in "Mockingjay" keeps you guessing at its meaning,
changing hypotheses two or three times before the truth is finally
revealed. The ending is likewise organic, and follows well from the

This is not a black-and-white story of good triumphing over evil, of
the oppressed overcoming their oppressors. There are secret plots to
be discovered and hard decisions to be made, and what better way to
experience it than from the point of view of the girl in the middle of
it all?