Home > Book, dystopian, Genre, Review, YA > Series Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (spoiler warning)

Series Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (spoiler warning)

Introduction:
Since I’m starting to finish up a bunch of series I’ve been reading for quite some time, I decided it’d be nice to reflect on the series as a whole after finishing.  I tend to do this in my head anyway, and it’ll be nice to get it out in writing.  Needless to say, there will be spoilers for every entry in the series.  This is about analysis and reflection and conversation with others who have read the series.  If you’re the type who likes spoilers before reading a series, you’re of course welcome as well.

Black cover with gold pin.Summary:
The Hunger Games trilogy is a post-apocalyptic dystopia set in the small nation of Panem, which we assume is what is left of livable land in what used to be the USA.  Panem is divided into 12 districts.  It is a dictatorship that faced a rebellion previously by the 13th district.  Every year each district, except the Capitol, must send one girl and one boy, chosen by lottery, to participate in the Hunger Games–a reality show in which they must fight to the death until only one survivor is left.  Katniss lives in District 12 and volunteers to go in place of her younger sister, Prim.  She forms an alliance with the boy from her district, Peeta.  When they are left the only ones standing, they grab poisonous berries, planning to thwart the Capitol by leaving no survivors.  They, of course, are stopped and are paraded around as engaged lovers for a year.  The President is angry at them, but they believe themselves to be relatively safe from his wrath as national heroes.  The next year, however, it is announced that this year’s Hunger Game will consist of the victors from the previous games.  It is believed that this act of violence will help squash the rebellion that is brewing.  Some of the victors plot with the rebels, however, and Katniss and some other victors escape with their aid and join in on the revolution, with Katniss the symbol of the rebellion.

Brown bird on orange background.

Review:
I first stumbled upon this series last summer.  I’m not sure how exactly, but given that I love dystopias, and it is one, it’s not too surprising.  I loved that for once in YA lit there was a main female character who was interested in something besides the mysterious new boy at school or make-up.  She is focused on survival and caring for her family.  I also enjoyed how she is presented as powerful, strong, and deadly.  It’s a nice change of pace from what generally is out there for teens to read.  I thought the teens fighting to death as punishment concept was unique, and was ranting about it one day to my boyfriend who said, “That sounds a lot like Battle Royale.”  And that’s when my entire view of the series started to change.

We watched the Battle Royale movie, which is based on the manga series of the same name, and I was flabbergasted to discover the exact same basic concept of a corrupt government forcing teens to battle each other to the death once a year.  There was less backstory on the characters, and Battle Royale has the teens actually behaving as sexual beings and is more violent, but the basic driving plot is the same.  Battle Royale, the manga and the movie, was released in 2000.  The first book of the Hunger Games was released in 2008.  I immediately investigated to see if Collins admits an influence or even discusses a similarity between her trilogy and the Japanese series.  She does not.  She claims her influences were purely from watching reality tv and war coverage, as well as from Greek myths.  She never discusses the similarity between her own books and Battle Royale.  This is disrespectful at best.  Most writers are influenced by other writers, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it is acknowledged.  Yet Collins refuses to even acknowledge the similarities between her own books and Battle Royale.  She doesn’t have to admit to swiping the idea and Americanizing it (although, I personally believe that is what happened).  She doesn’t even have to say she was influenced by it (this is what I believe she should do).  She should at least talk about how the two are similar and recommend the Battle Royale series to fans of her own series.  It’s the only respectful thing to do.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s ignore for the moment the questionable origins of the story and focus on the content.

White bird on blue background.Katniss spends the entire series struggling against forces that are bigger than herself.  She sides with the rebels only to find herself questioning them as well, and in the end, she causes the death of both President Snow (inadvertently) and President Coin (directly by shooting her).  Katniss claims she wants things to be different, yet all she sees is power hungry people all around her.  She winds up doubting in humanity as a species, wondering at a species that repeatedly sacrifices its children for their own amusement and gain.  I agree that humanity is pretty fucked, although for different reasons than Katniss’, so I enjoyed seeing this viewpoint in print.  I was therefore a bit saddened to see in the epilogue that Katniss winds up settling down with Peeta and having babies in District 12 (and apparently doing nothing for the rest of her life?).  This sounds to me like she didn’t know what to do with her depression or her accurate viewpoint of the world, so she just decided to hunker down and live it out as quietly as possible.  You would think that someone who had seen what she had seen would find comfort and solace in working to improve things for others who suffer instead of living in luxury in the victor’s village.  Of course, Collins doesn’t have to provide a positive ending, but the thing is, I believe that she thinks she did.  Katniss goes through all of this and winds up with the “American Dream”–the white picket fence, husband, and babies.  It feels like a serious cop-out to the critics of her much more realistic first two books to me.

I was similarly disappointed to see a love triangle introduced in the second book.  Why must every YA author include a love triangle?  What is up with that?  I was enjoying Katniss falling for Peeta and realizing Gale might just be her childhood best friend/crush, but then she whips around changing her mind constantly between the two of them.  Peeta and Katniss have the bond of the arena, an experience Gale cannot possibly share or understand.  Katniss continually behaves in a disloyal manner to Peeta in a way that seriously makes me doubt the quality of her character.  She acknowledges this in the third book when Peeta, upon returning from being tortured, tells her all the ways in which she has been cruel to him and to others, and they are true.  Gale knows it too, as he tells Peeta in the third book that Katniss will choose whoever helps her survive better.  In the end that’s pretty much what she does.  Gale failed her by designing the bombs that killed her sister.  Peeta is the only one who understands her pain, so Peeta is the one she “falls in love with,” yet everything about Katniss is so self-centered that I was left wondering why she should wind up with anybody at all.  That said, I did enjoy that Katniss recognized that herself and Gale were too similar to be together.  They both had too many violent tendencies to make a healthy couple, so she went with her opposite–the calm, peaceful Peeta.  They balance each other, and that aspect of the romance made me smile.

Katniss’ original selfless love of her sister Prim gradually disappears over the course of the trilogy.  When the bombers are coming to District 13, she forgets about her sister entirely, and it is Gale who ensures she gets to the lower levels safely.  By the end of the series, Katniss has lost all the beauty of her personality found in the first book.  She went from a selfless love to a self-centered, revenge-driven person who will sacrifice almost anyone in her quest to kill Snow.  Even though she periodically has glimmers of recognition that everyone has been wronged by the Capitol, and indeed, some people more than herself.  Finnick who was forced to give his body away to anyone he was told to in the Capitol.  Johanna and Annie who were tortured.  Peeta who was brainwashed.  She has glimmers of sympathy, but overall she has essentially turned into an automaton, a Terminator, if you will.  Yet Collins still writes her with a sympathetic tone.  Why?

I have no issue with blood, violence, graphicness, or battle scenes used in the context of a story.  That’s not what bothers me about the trajectory of the Hunger Games.  What bothers me is that Katniss realizes the hopeless situation the human species is in, something I entirely agree with.  She then proceeds to let it turn her into the worst humanity has to offer.  She then realizes this and instead of working to change things, she just gives up.  She gives up and bows her head and succumbs to a submissive life.  The Katniss of the first book would do anything to defy the expectations and mores of society, but in the end, she sees that society has not really changed with the change of rule.  Indeed, the most active thing she does is also one of the worst.  She votes in favor of having another Hunger Game featuring the children of the Capitol.  Maybe this is realistic and most people would either join the evil or give up, but I’d hoped for more in a series so beloved by so many teenage girls.  Yes, the world sucks.  Yes, it’s a constant struggle.  Yes, it hurts and you may never succeed, but never stop trying.  That was the message of the first two books, and yet it was entirely tromped on by the final entry in the series.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by that, given the ethics of the author.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: library, borrowed, and Amazon

Buy It

Books in Series:
The Hunger Games, review
Catching Fire
Mockingjay, review

ETA Note: I wrote this post BEFORE the series was a hit or popular and long before a movie was on the horizon. Before most of America had read the books. I didn’t read them or write about them to get blog hits or because they are popular. I read them because they were IN MY LIBRARY.  I long ago stopped responding to comments on this post, while still approving them and letting them show up, because my blog is not a ya lit blog!  I don’t want to spend my time discussing a trilogy that I didn’t even like that much when I can be focusing on the adult literature I vastly prefer.  Additionally, I learned long ago that fans are called fanatics for a reason. They won’t listen to any criticism of something they are a crazy fanatic about.  So feel free to comment and discuss amongst yourselves.  I approve every comment that shows up. But don’t expect this 20-something to waste her time responding.  You’ll note that I made this decision long ago, as I haven’t responded to anything since May of 2011.

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  1. jpetroroy
    August 30, 2010 at 9:32 am | #1

    See, I got the impression that Katniss’ vote to hold another Hunger Games was in order to lull President Coin into complacency so that Katniss could then assassinate her in front of the crowd.

    Also, regarding Katniss’ settling down into ‘happily ever after,’ I honestly believe that that *is* what she wants, it’s not just a result of any depression she may have. From the beginning of the trilogy, Katniss hasn’t been motivated by a massive desire to change society (yes, she believes the Capitol is inherently evil and that it must be stopped and she takes rebellious steps in the arena to confront this evil), but her purest motivation, from the beginning, was to save Prim and retain the life she had in District 12. She is motivated by family, not revenge. Peeta is the one, on the rooftop in the first book, who initially talks about how he will not allow the Capitol to steal who he is. I think Katniss has always been described as being quite uncomfortable used as the face of the revolution, and it’s natural that she is never fully at the head of Coin’s or the army’s forces.

    • August 31, 2010 at 8:06 am | #2

      My belief is that Katniss was too far gone, mentally, at that point to plot so well. If you go back and re-read the scene where she shoots Coin, it seems very impromptu and spontaneous, not plotted. However, my English major forces me to concede that other interpretations can be equally valid. ;-)

      I’d agree with you that Katniss going into the Hunger Games originally was all about saving her sister, but if you re-read the moment where she and Peeta are about to take the Nightlock, it’s a very rebellious act, and Katniss perceives it as such. This shows her potential to be a leader. Perhaps you’re right that what she selfishly wants is just a regular life, but she has the potential to be so much more. I perceive it as her refusing to grow up and settling into a fairy tale. But I could also see the gentler interpretation of her finally being beaten down by the world and conceding defeat to protect the ones she love who she has left.

      Speaking of which, what was up with her mother just abandoning her like that? Dude.

      • jpetroroy
        August 31, 2010 at 9:36 am | #3

        Yeah, I thought the mother part was a bit disjointed, but I chose to see it as a result of her mother’s depression. Since her mom got so depressed when Katniss’ father died, she would probably abandon District 12 to avoid similar memories of Prim. Katniss’ mother has never been described as the most caring, doting mother, so she’s anesthesizing herself with work to avoid memories of her lost loved ones. In the process abandoning her daughter, who gets the crap end of the deal.

      • August 31, 2010 at 3:41 pm | #4

        Yeah, it is in the mother’s characterization based on the beginning of the story, but I dunno, I’d hoped she’d have changed a bit given how she apologized to Katniss for sinking into such a depression when her husband died and leaving her daughters to fend for themselves. I guess it’s realistic she doesn’t change, but I was disappointed in that.

  2. August 30, 2010 at 11:15 am | #5

    I’d have to say I agree with jpetroroy about Katniss’s motive. She never really wants to be the Mockingjay. She wants to go back to her life, or run away, not forge a new world order, and in effect she’s forced into it. She doesn’t want kids because they might end up in the Hunger Games, not because she genuinely doesn’t want them. The Hunger Games that she voted for in the end never happened because she killed Coin.

    I definitely agree that she was horrid to Peeta and about the love triangle in general. I never thought Gale was an option, and as we get to know him better my suspicions were confirmed. Of course, my husband disagrees and is already Team Gale and hasn’t even moved on to Catching Fire yet.

    Also worth mentioning that Battle Royale was a book before it was manga or a movie. I’m surprised Collins doesn’t acknowledge its influence; I thought that was widely accepted as this series’ source.

    Anyway, there are tons of YA dystopias! I think you should read Patrick Ness’s personally, starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go; I’d love your take on it.

    • August 31, 2010 at 8:10 am | #6

      As I said to Jen, I think that’s a very childish choice Katniss makes, and one I would hope her character would have grown out of. “But I don’t waaant to be the Mockingjay! *foot stamp*” Oy.

      Also, I believe it’s unclear whether or not another Hunger Game occurred. It was the people as a whole calling for another Hunger Game using the Capitol children. Katniss, our narrator, had a total mental breakdown after killing Coin, and she never mentions whether or not one occurred. If the society was together enough to pull off a trial for Katniss, they could pull off a Hunger Game. This is one of those things that’s up in the air, but in the end, whether it happened or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that Katniss voted for it.

      Love triangle: This is definitely a book that I think would have benefited from staying away from romantic love and focusing on family and friends.

      Thanks for the book rec, Meghan! I’ll definitely add it to my list.

      • jpetroroy
        August 31, 2010 at 9:37 am | #7

        The Knife of Never Letting Go trilogy is made of all kinds of awesome. SO, SO amazing

      • August 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm | #8

        Well that pretty much solidifies the rec. You two are pretty good judges of YA. ;-)

  3. September 28, 2010 at 2:29 pm | #9

    Hey, I want to read The Knife of Never Letting Go too, there just doesn’t seem to be an audio version in the system. Grr.

    As for Mockingjay, I am still digesting it. I didn’t love it. I don’t like the love triangle. I was unsatisfied with the resolution, but am so far unable to articulate what I would have liked better. It is very grating, but I will try to work it out in my forthcoming review.

  4. Trammie
    January 24, 2011 at 11:03 am | #11

    Hello! I must say that I agree with your review of the Hunger games Trilogy. I just finished the trilogy and I am disappointed by the series as a whole. I very much enjoyed the first book and couldn’t wait to read books 2 and 3. But it started to go downhill from there. Book 2 introduced the awkward love triangle and the protagonist’s self centered-ness. I begin to dislike Katniss more and more as I read. By the time I got half way through book 3, I was skipping every other sentence and skimming through the pages just to get the book over with.

    In addition to your grievances about the series in your review, I absolutely hated the author’s writings about Katniss getting made up by her team of stylists and being followed by a camera crew. Really? In a future where people are fighting off hunger — they have time in District 13 to care about something as frivolous as make up and hair? And even if they did, does the author really need to spend half the book talking about it?

    I feel that a lot of times, the author creates ridiculous unrealistic situations to put Katniss in that would create a lot of drama for her love life and to top it off, have a camera crew ready to capture her reaction. When you put that against a back drop of a world that’s starving, people dying, it just seems like very shallow stuff.

    I am just very disappointed with the series. I wish I had stopped reading after book 1.

    • January 25, 2011 at 10:10 am | #12

      I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one.

      I hadn’t thought so much about the cameras in the third book, but you’re of course right. It’s almost as if she had already established camera presence in the first book and didn’t know how to continue without it.

      Also, having the second book be a second hunger game seemed a bit like a cop-out to me.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  5. LALALALA
    May 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm | #13

    Ha! It’s very interesting how this person uses Collin’s “Americanized ethinicity” to review a book, and you seem to make it a little more biased than it should be. You also accuse er of copying from “BAttle Royale” which you have NO proof of nor any right to say so. Thos of you who say crap about the love triangle, it was always there. In the first book, it was Katniss and Gale, with Peeta secretly loving her. also, her sister was there, only she went to get the cat. If you read the throughout the third book, it shows she still cares for her, only Katniss is confused and depressed, which is something that seems to run in the family. And whats wrong with the American Dream? It was a story about a time in her This shows that you liked the books quite alot, because you are still curious what will happen next. However, you gave it 3.5 out of 5, which I believe was brought around by your curiousity for wanting MORe which is good,though you say otherwise, and your dislike of YA books.

    • May 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm | #14

      I’d give this a serious response, but I’m too busy laughing at the horribly disjointed, grammatically painful diatribe that completely displays an obvious lack of reading comprehension. *snort*

  6. Elaine
    May 22, 2011 at 1:05 am | #15

    I actually believe that the camera crews following Katniss around during the third book was perhaps meant to show a sort of parallelism between District 13, which existed under basically a military dictatorship, and the Capitol-how the overwhelming concern was showing the other districts every event and portraying things in a light of their choosing (the rebels wanting to show a strong resistance to the Capitol, the Capitol wanting to show its power in the Hunger Games’ bloodshed). It wasn’t so much an “established camera presence” that the author clung to, but an “established camera presence” that District 13 clung to.
    And yes, it is all very shallow with the makeup and the hair when you consider the whole starvation/death issue that is so prominent in this series, but isn’t that kind of the point? Is that not part of the reason Katniss killed Coin, because under her Panem would probably be no different, and it would still be as shallow as before? Part of the tragedy, I think, of District 13 leading the rebellion is its simlarities to the Capitol: I mean, they blow up children and their own teams of doctors for goodness sake!

    Again, I don’t really agree with your theory of Katniss’ “American Dream”-”copout”-”giving up” in the epilogue. It is clearly stated that having kids took fifteen years of convincing her. I don’t think that follows with your opinion-but of course, books are always open for interpretation, I’m not refuting your claim, merely supplying my own! Because that still shows she was still hesitant about having kids. Instead, I saw it more of a process of healing for Katniss, her ability to eventually love and trust completely in Peeta. After all, she lost her sister, and her only goal at the beginning of the series, what set everything in motion, was Katniss’ determination to keep Prim alive. And in the end it made no difference. Despite Katniss’ efforts by volunteering as tribute that started a chain reaction ending with a full-scale rebellion, Prim still died. Katniss failed in her one mission in life: to save her sister. (That’s why I think the whole series is actually a tragedy, but that’s a whole other discussion in itself.) And so I saw her happily-ish ever after was a mark of healing from all the awful things she went through begun by what should have been a simple act of sacrifice.

    I apologize for being long-winded/rambling, I just really enjoy talking about this series!

    • risab
      August 8, 2011 at 1:21 am | #16

      Elaine, I think your interpretration is right on–in that Katniss saw too much similarity between the Capitol and District 13. And also that her spirit was pretty much completely deflated by the death of her sister, not to mention all the traumatic events she had been put through. If it had been me, I would have wanted to just go live a quiet life after all that.
      Also, people seem to be forgetting that Katniss says herself numerous times throughout the book that she felt like a piece in other people’s games–I’m not sure why readers expect her to be noble and take up a cause afterward. She didn’t choose to be put in those situations. And she was only 16 and 17 at the time of the stories!

  7. stevenmallard
    May 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm | #17

    The reason katniss agreed to the hunger games was clearly because she was in depression from her sisters death. Why did her sister need to die? It didnt have any particular significance in the book and it just makes you upset. Also im sure Collins could have come up with a better ending, she doesnt even tell us whether katniss is happy or whether her and Peeta recovered full. I personally wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with a demented person that tried to kill me =/.
    I would also be interested to know if she ever saw Gale again and if he was upset by her having kids with Peeta. My ideal ending would have been if Gale and katniss got married and had children.

  8. Danielle
    May 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm | #18

    I agree with you 100%. The first two books, I absolutely loved. The last? I could write a better ending in my sleep. I mean, what a way to tear down the character and hopes of your readers. Prim dead. Katniss going insane and being abandoned by her mother(and nearly everyone else). The ending of the friendship with Gale. The horrible physical transformation. Her complete turnaround into the people she dispised. When I read that she voted “yes” to continue the Hunger Games, I nearly choked. Katniss

  9. Danielle
    May 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm | #19

    *Katniss that was self-sacrificing and saw good in people would never do that. This is the person that didn’t even want to destroy the enemy as grown adults (The Nut avalanche). Within the last book I feel she became some empty shell that did as she was told and cared less and less about her sister and Peetah, more about her own comfort. What Gayle said to Peetah was right. She would choose the one she couldnt survive without. I was actually pulling for P the entire time, but after she repeatedly treated him like s**t, it seemed like she only wanted SOMEONE to balance her out, make the nightmares go away, occupy her mind, and tell her things she wanted to hear. Everything that happened from the middle of boom 2 on seemed like one huge cop out.

  10. JessS
    June 4, 2011 at 8:22 am | #20

    Thank you for all your posts, it has been interesting reading other perspectives. I have never posted a review or comments about anything on the internet before, but there has been something so unsettling about this book series that I simply just need to express myself about it, and hopefully hear your thoughts.

    My take, in assessing the series as a whole, is the sad comment that Collins has made about our own society (here in America) today, and just how similar we have become to the decadent and dangerously proud examples of Ancient Athens and Rome. Here in America today we are “Panem et circenses” a parade of bread and ciruses. . we spend more than we have, we waste food and supplies that would be precious to many other countries of the world, we import most of your goods from other countries that we treat unfairly, and we sit in front of our televisions watching the reality of other peoples lives and are entertained. I don’t think the Hunger Games is truly a ‘future’ society, I think it is here and now, and altough the story contains many flaws (most have already been addressed in this blog), Collins for me has been quite successful in exposing just how horrible we are now. I am successfully depressed about it all, so congrats Collins for that!

    Maybe Collins wanted her readers to feel what I am feeling and than ask ourselves, what next? Katniss clearly couldn’t figure out what was next for her. . .perhaps Collins is calling upon her readers to be introspective and figure out for ourselves what is next, and think about how we as individuals can make this world now a little better?

    ps- I do think Peeta deserved better. ..

    • June 6, 2011 at 8:10 am | #21

      I am so glad you’ve enjoyed the reviews! That’s the cool thing about book blogs–you get a chance to discuss literature again. :-)

      It definitely is a good commentary on reality television. To a certain extent, there are definitely reality shows today that, although they aren’t directly about killing someone, they do consist of people ruining their lives for our entertainment (um, Jersey Shore). Although, I’m not convinced myself that Collins was really attempting to make much of a commentary on anything. ;-)

  11. Cary
    June 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm | #22

    I haven’t read the last book yet and so this was why I was reading this review (I don’t really mind the spoilers).
    Anyway I really like the series because, whether you like the story or not, it really makes you think.(Which i picked up from the comments.) In the end,so you say, Katniss just lives normally. She let’s another place be ruined and corrupt (the Capitol) by the hunger games. Which I don’t like: how better are the districts if they are doing the same thing,really? And Katniss just gives up, I also agree that sucks. But that’s a moral too. The first two books said: dont give up. The last one says: what do you think they could have achieved if they didn’t give up? But after what she went through, Katniss was tired. She had fought so hard to protect, and in the end, it was moot point. You can’t spend your whole life fighting. And of course Katniss changed through out the books. That’s the way life works: shit happens, experiences are made, you change. And of course there was a love triangle: love and what’d you do for a loved one are very well intertwined in the whole story. Plus the books would’ve been less of a read without the whole Peeta and Gale deal!!! I really am happy she chose Peeta
    And I don’t think the whole “Battle Royale” thing is very fair. Maybe SC really doesn’t know about it and it’s similarity to her books. I didn’t even know about it until now. Over all, a very good review! Sorry I rambled . I just really like the series. I already ordered Mockingjay and I can’t wait to read it!
    Eek!!!! *fangirl shriek*

  12. Cary
    June 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm | #23

    Forgot to say something!!! Sorry.
    In the first 2 books, I was always thinking how the Capitol is so alike to USA right now. We do waste alot and we could afford to help other countries MORE but we dont… This book is a symbol and a warning, perhaps. There are so many things we could do for our “districts” and for ourselves and like JessS said, we need to think “what next” and help ourselves to not become Panem.
    I have a feeling this series will always be my favorite. To me, it’s 5 stars. Sorry, again, for my rambling.

    • June 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm | #24

      Lol, let’s see what you think after you’ve read the final book, hm? ;-)

  13. felipe
    July 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm | #25

    I just finished reading Mockingjay about an hour ago, and I because I was left at a state of such confusion and perturbation by the ending that I had to seek out a blog that talked about it.
    I feel as if the Collins, in the end, accomplished nothing. I expected the entire trilogy to be Katniss’ eye-opening journey of who she is and what she symbolized, to her family and to oppressed people of the districts; how truly evil the capitol was, as represented by first and foremost the hunger games which she knew all too well. Instead of rising up to the plate, Katniss remained this unfulfilled, confused pawn in a game, afraid to embrace a cause so much greater than her own emotional love confusions. Katniss, it seems to me, never grew up and faced what was laid out before her. Acting rashly and childlike, with little preparation and a misplaced heart, she confused me as a reader through and through the last book in the trilogy. Where was the girl who was so willing to stand up for rue in district 11? Or the girl who wanted to fight for the rebels and protect the innocent? Instead, we get a girl which would mope around district 13 hiding in closets and who was motivated to kill Snow not because it would end the war and establish peace, but because she wanted revenge. I almost threw my copy of the book against the wall when i read that she accepted the idea of a Capitol round of Hunger games. Talk about irony! The system which thwarted her life into chaos and sorrow, she wants to replicate. Revenge, revenge, revenge. So many good characters sacrificed themselves for her (Cinna, Finnick, even Peeta to some extent), because they knew she symbolized hope and courage to fight for justice. But she never allowed herself to become the hope and courage for the people she represented, other than by the methods of district 13s cinematography at the right moments.
    And not even to mention the fact that her best friend Gale and her mother get little in the epilogue, other than the feeling that they abandoned her. Nothing noble for us to cling to.
    At least she ended with Peeta, who to me is the most deserving character in the trilogy.
    I conclude that, whatever Katniss Everdeen ,the girl who was on fire, set ablaze was never from the fire of her own realization, moral and ideals or a higher call; instead it was a flame of incoherence, selfishness and revenge.

    • July 5, 2011 at 8:07 am | #26

      You summarized my issues with the trilogy very eloquently, Felipe.

    • November 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm | #27

      I completely agree with your words. I just finished the last book too.. Yesterday. I just feel so disappointed of how it all ended. Katniss broke down completely, she lost her morals and became weak, was abandoned by everybody. Her best friend Gale, and the people in the districts, even her mother!.. well, everybody except Peeta. I think the autor totally ruined the character of Katniss in the last book. It feels like I can write a better ending in my sleep. It really made me sad because I loved her in the first book.. but then it all went downhill and ended with a tragedy.

      And what ever happend to Gale? What a jerk! :(

  14. courtney
    July 9, 2011 at 9:43 am | #28

    So the series also left me wanting more for Katniss and using her skills to help society. But I think that from the beginning family was her true priority and that’s what she got back to end the end. You have to teach your own children compassion and love to create a society that helps others and works together.

    Also, I don’t think that Katniss accepted the Hunger Games she merely said yes to have a chance to kill Coin which could not happen again without a lot more loss of life. She did not want Coin in power at all. You know this because of what she says about Haywitch knowing her so well.

    I don’t have the books in front of me but I do think I remember Katniss telling us that there were no Hunger Games for her children and that there was a quick election of a “president” which I hope means democracy had taken hold instead of a dictatorship which might have resulted from Coin being in power.

    (Skipping around a bit) The other piece is that Katniss was going crazy with all the pressures of life and death. She did not realize that Prim and the other children were killed by the rebels that she supported until right before the time for her to shoot Presdent Snow. With this in mind- she figured out the Snow had approved not only to have her sister on the front lines but also to have her and the other children of the capital killed. Katniss realized the Coin wanted revenge and power for the wrong reasons and that Coin wanted to drive her insane just as Snow had by taking away the most important person in her life.

    I do think that this series is meant to make us think about our lives and how we treat other people especially the ones that love us and the ones that hate us. Do we stoop to their level or do we rise above and use our morals to make the right decisions instead of what the media and government is telling us. I am a very liberal person so it only makes me think about how easy it is for people with so much (the capital) to not think about or try and understand the desperation of the poor and under employeed (the districts).

    My hope is that Katniss found out how to tuely love others- Peeta and her children and that she went on to do great and amazing things in her own district. I believe in order to change the world we have to start with our own backyards.

  15. courtney
    July 9, 2011 at 11:18 am | #29

    Regarding the love triangle- Katniss is a strong female character and she did not choose the love triangle. One part of human nature is the need for intimacy and human contact. Peeta is the one who announced his love for Katniss and she attempted to not lead him on but her emotional needs in the arena and her nature brought them closer. Her and Gale had been close before the book even begins due to their circumstances. Throughtout the book Katniss continues to try and make her own decisions about her life and to not just blindly follow someone else including a male love interest. She does not want to owe anyone anything which is how I believe she connects to people. Peeta is the one that shows her what unconditional love really means which Katniss has not had since her father passed away.

    Katniss actually tries to choose humanity over anyone else when she kills Coin. Katniss believes she will be killed for her actions and is not thinking about any boy during that decision. Also, in the end she does not choose the guy that will help her survival the most. Gale actually would be the one that could keep her alive longer due to his new position and power (which also probably means $) in district 2. I believe Katniss and Peeta choose each other. Peeta did not have to go back to disctrict 12 and Katniss did not have to let him back into her life. They could have attempted to drown their lifes in a bottle or not fight their mental illness. PTSD is not something you get over in a little while and they choose to accept each other for who they are and all their shortcomings, crazy dreams, and times of insanity.

    The other piece is that these are complex characters. They are not just good or evil making just right or wrong decisions. I think the author tried to create real life characters with shortcomings and downfalls so that the reader would be forced to think about their actions and choices.

    It’s great to read other peoples’ comments. I’m open to other opinions because we don’t reallly know who’s right or wrong. Also, you will open more minds and hearts when you give guidance and kind feedback instead of negativity and critizism.

  16. courtney
    July 10, 2011 at 10:02 am | #30

    Media use- I think the author is using the media in the series to show us how media coverage influences our thoughts, ideas, and actions. The cameras were actually only supposed to be covering “pretend” fighting and helping to rally the revolution into action and give them confidence. Both governments are using the media for their own influences and to try and make sure the population only sees their intended perspective of the situation.

    Power and the media can go hand in hand if not used wisely. I think Rupert Murdock and his media influence is a fine example of this.

    I think that the author is also helping us to realize that we want to be spoonfed our entertainment and our political information. She especially does this in the end of the series when the guy in the hovercraft (don’t remember his name) tells Katniss that she could be in a singing series he is going to create and that she could be in the show. I don’t think this was an out of place statement. It was meant to show the absurdity behind our media and that they want to create images and TV that will sell to the public whether it be singing, war, or politics. I also think it shows how little interest the population actually has in the revolution and they would rather watch reality singing shows.

    Do you see any similarity now between our county and Panem?

  17. Grandpetit
    July 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm | #31

    In the beggining I didn’t have that much expectations about the trilogy as a whole. I started the first book and I saw it as the classic teenage bestseller, that keeps you up all night reading but once it’s over you don’t really digest the book and reflection. But when I finished the 3 book I understood the ending of the series it is because war actually changes people so it is obvious that Katniss won’t have the same motivation as in the beginning or see the world the same way. It is not an actual happy ending I think of it as a little miserable, both two guys too wretched by war manipulation to be of any use for the new regimen are sent out not bother anyone because they have done their part. The babies part was extra and I thought the book and Katniss’ personality would have been a lot better wothout the love triangle cheesy thing. Although I dind’t think the book was amazing it actually made me think and question what Iam looking for in life, what is who I want to be. And how easilly that can be destroyed.

  18. zoe
    August 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm | #32

    I didn’t see Katniss as super self-centered. What I saw was a real human. Like she couldn’t be defined as completely good or completely bad. Self-centered or selfless. No real human being can. What Collins did was depict the true nature of humans. Humans have good and bad qualities, and we often alternate from good and bad decisions. These characters are complex and display all those qualities!

    Katniss reminds me of Jo from Little Women

  19. bill
    August 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm | #33

    worst book ever

  20. artist2writer
    August 18, 2011 at 4:37 am | #34

    I started reading the hunger games and I moved and couldn’t seem to find the book trilogy. so I am buying them again but from what I read I really liked them. They locked me in and captivated me. also I agree I appreciate the fact that these characters are complex and display a lot of qualities that humans have and don’t have.

  21. September 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm | #35

    Your final paragraph was perfect. I finished Mockingjay two nights ago and have been trying to articulate out why it was so terrible since then… but what you said was pretty much it. There’s was such a lack of hope, or any real change besides the death count, which was why it was terrible.

    So thank you, for articulating my thoughts for me. :|

    I’m doing a post on my own blog today about the Trilogy- do you mind if I quote you? I’ll link back here of course ;)

  22. September 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm | #40

    Oooh…. wait, I just saw your reply- did you already read mine? Sorry, now me is confused….. o_O
    And yes, yay thinking :D :D :D

    • September 23, 2011 at 8:25 am | #41

      Oh, no, I hadn’t! I just appreciate the honor of being quoted. ;-)

  23. Jordyn
    October 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm | #42

    I have just finished reading book one and I loved it! I loved how it was so intense and you couldn’t wait to figure out what would happen next. I was really excited to go on to the next one, but as I read these reviews, the series seems to go downhill. I really would like to finish the series, but is it worth it? Are they that bad?

    • October 14, 2011 at 9:58 pm | #43

      I would just find a summary of the trilogy and skip Mockingjay. I LOVED the first book, didn’t mind the second, but I would recommend you pass on the third, especially if you get SUPER into books so much that they seem real to you o_O

      • Jordyn
        October 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm | #44

        But they kind of just leave you hanging at the end of the first one. I want to continue the series but it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. /: But thanks for the suggestion.

  24. Doc
    November 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm | #45

    I was afraid to read too much of your post because I haven’t read the series and plan to. Thanks for the spoiler warnings. And thanks for “following” me. I plan to go back over some of your earlier posts and see what I’ve missed

  25. Chickadee
    January 7, 2012 at 11:52 am | #46

    I disagree that Collins ripped off Battle Royale (you could say that both series “ripped off” Lord of the Flies). There’s the fight to the death stuff, yes, but the trilogy as a whole focused on very different themes. It’s not so much a story of a gladiator death match as it is a war story.

    Also, I thought the epilogue was fitting. Katniss and Peta and frankly, most of the HG champions (and the war vets) had classic symptoms of PTSD. War, torture and hardship hardens you in horrific ways; we already saw Katniss was on the road to that in the first book anyway. (She wanted to drown Buttercup because that cat would have taken up valuable food supplies, it was only her sister that kept her from doing it.) If anything, her emotions expanded–in the first book, Prim is the only person she’s sure she loves, by the last, she knows there are more people she does love, and it’s cost her very, very dearly. She and Peta build as good a life as they can together but it’s not going to be happily ever after. Even going through the arena once, with no wartime experience, would have made that moot. But after the arena, war, betrayals, and torture, this is the best they can hope for. A quiet life is probably preferable to them.

  26. Anne
    April 7, 2012 at 9:18 am | #47

    I read an article on Suzanne Collins, and she states that she never heard of or read Battle Royale when she started writing these books. Why would she give Battle Royale credit when she never read it? I guess you’re then calling her a liar – not sure how you can be so convinced, when you have absolutely no way of knowing.

    Katniss voted yes to the rebel Hunger Games suggested by Coin, so it would be easy to kill Coin. Haymitch also understood this. If the reader perceives that Katniss voted yes because she truly wanted new Hunger Games, I don’t think that reader has a very good understanding of Katniss, or the entire series, at all.

    Katniss does devolve somewhat into somewhat of a mess as the series progresses. But that is what war does to someone, that’s the point. And I hardly think the ending suggests an American Dream or a happily ever after, especially in light of the fact that both Katniss and Peeta have severe PTSD. It’s just two people trying to heal, trying to make a life, trying to create new life. The very thing that Katniss wanted from the begining – the ability for her family to live freely, happily, in peace. Young adults that are not married or have kids yet, might not get the significance of this.

  27. Kerrie
    April 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | #48

    I think the author of this blog needs to re-read the books. Katniss is self-centered, but not in a bad way. She is focused, always, on saving her life and her family’s lives. The point of the books is about fighting for a change, but change doesn’t happen the way we wish or want it to, and Katniss realizes this in the last book. That’s why she votes for the Hunger Games, although I did not like that. But then she realizes she can do something and that’s when she shoots Coin. Katniss never wanted the Mockingjay role, it was thrust upon her. She never truely wanted to fight for change, that was Gale’s role. So, it makes sense that she would go back to her quite life in Distract 12. And she did always want a famliy, but was reluctant to pursue that option because of the way the children were raised to be placed in the Hunger Games. And yes, Katniss does get torn down by all that she has been through, who wouldn’t? But in the end, it is her that realizes there is never going to be a change, unless she acts, and she does. She is a true heroin to me, but she has flaws, just like any other human, and that is what makes her likable. The only time I get annoyed with her is when Peeta comes back from the capital and is brainwashed, and she is cold to him. But Peeta is the only person who truely loved her for the person she was, flaws and all. Even Gale couldn’t accept all of her once she came back from the Games and she was always her mother and sister’s protector. It hurt her to be viewed as who she thought she was, instead of how Peeta viewed her. I loved all the books as a whole and I am happy with the ending.

  28. May 2, 2012 at 2:35 am | #49

    I have a small book club on facebook and we just finished reading the trilogy. While discussing the books (mainly the ending and last book) we started to form an idea out of the things that didn’t make since. I haven’t been able to find much about this topic, except on one website that listed a few Hunger Games conspiracy theories in brief detail.

    If anyone has heard of this before or if there is a discussion about this somewhere please post and let me know.

    So anyway here is it. Was Katniss hand picked from the beginning? Of course there are moments that are just a coincidence or help to develop how this conspiracy plays out (like the pin). Things that point to it are:
    Cinna designing her costumes the way he did, and the uniforms worn later in 13. – he just happened to request 12 & and then was the one to design the “rebels uniforms”

    Picking Prim from the drawing – anyone who knew her knows she would never let her sister go into the games. this gives an uncharismatic character an instant enigma the people will love. she saves her sister.

    Why Katniss – I think this is a leap of faith, she is from a district no one pays attention to, but of everyone in that district she had the best chance of actually winning because of her hunting skills.

    That every “decision” Kat makes is from some sort of manipulation. She is used and manipulated the entire trilogy.

    I’m not sure if it’s allowed, but if anyone would like to see how this thought process came about I can post a link to the book club thread (though at the moment you would have to join it to see the post. (our next book will be jane erye in case anyone is wondering lol)

    Anyway, I (we) weren’t sure if it was my overactive imagination filling in gaps or is this is an actual underlying theme that is getting glanced over. (except possibly places like this)

    Oh one more thing, does anyone know if suzanne is going to write any other novels in conection to this trilogy? something from someone else’s point of view or giving some behind the scenes information? or if she has given any interviews that give any of this type of info? thanks again

  29. source
    May 28, 2012 at 4:21 am | #50

    The majority of of the comments on this particular blog dont make sense.

  30. kiltoff
    June 18, 2012 at 4:44 am | #51

    Elaine, your comment (Nr 15) is spot on. You can’t argue with it, that’s why wolfshow chose to ignore it. I think, basically it comes down to this – most of the readers aged under 18-19 hated the ending due to their literal interpretations of the book and it’s characters’ actions. Those who are over that age (physically and/or emotionally) liked the trilogy for its colourful, life-like and flawed characters, commentary on societies and not following the cliche of what a rebel leader should be like and how revolutions happen.

  31. kiltoff
    June 18, 2012 at 4:46 am | #52

    And wolfshow, before you start mocking my grammar, I meant to write “its characters’ actions”, not “it’s” – just a typo

  32. June 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm | #53

    i entirely do not agree. Collins writes an amazing story though i do admit the end was dull compared to the rest of the story. i do agree though that i was disappointed at how Katniss’s personality went downhill. i also wonder at what ever happened to Gale. It also bothered me that Collins wrote at such a fast pace that after reading all of them i was so overwhelmed i could not understand anything. It just didn’t make sense strung together.

  33. myzanymind
    September 25, 2012 at 12:15 am | #54

    I think the Hunger Games Trilogy started out really well. Collins addressed several social problems existing in the U.S. today. Superficial, shallow and self-centered behavior coming from most residents of the Capitol was resounding. Also the spirit of rebellion. Katniss and Gale where the ferocious types but Peeta was a more diplomatic rebel. While Peeta was portrayed as having a good heart it made me think of the significance we as Americans place on appearance and speech. We are willing to follow and believe people because they look well put together and have the gift of gab. The 2nd book was pretty lame I think Collins could have been more creative than coming up with Katniss and Peeta going back into the games. I did like the idea of learning more about the victors from previous games and how they never really escape the games by being forced to mentor future tributes and attend events that only remind them of the tributes they were forced to murder. By the 3rd book I became very disgusted with everything about Katniss’s character. From her constant whining about Gale and Peeta, to her complete disregard for the authority in district 13. She never bothered to adhere to the their lifestyle and because of her status as the mockingjay behaved like a spoiled brat. In a situation where it is a struggle to maintain lives and keep from being destroyed she is demanding she receives special privileges. This makes her similar to Coin and Snow. Not willing to be treated equally to the group but someone who receives special treatment. Her sister Prim saw life in 13 as an opportunity and if she hadn’t been murdered would have had a bright future. Katniss let her anger about being a pawn get in the way of taking advantage of the opportunity. I agree district 13 seemed like a place much too strict for me to reside in. However in times of utter chaos societies function best with strict dictatorships. I was further disgusted by her treatment of Peeta after he had been hijacked. This showed just how self-centered she had become. As infuriating as it is, it does reflect reality; good, kind-hearted people often end up with people who use and abuse them. Collins point that everyone has a self-serving agenda and the lengths they will go through to retain power is believable but President Coin being so evil was a bit of a stretch. Making Prim’s murder and Coin’s assassination seem silly.

  1. February 17, 2012 at 1:03 am | #1

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