I recently read The Hunger Games trilogy, my 12 year old daughter has been assigned a book project based on the series. I decided to pre-read the books to get an idea of why they are so popular. The first book in the series, The Hunger Games, was a fast paced, entertaining read. I’ll admit that the concept of the plot bothered me at first. The plot revolves around ‘the hunger games’ in which 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 are sent into a gladiator-esqe arena and forced to fight each other, to the death. The last kid standing is crowned the victor and retires in relative wealth and celebrity to their hometown. Once I was able to get past the idea of children being murdered, the book was fun to read. In fact, it was engrossing and I couldn’t put it down! There was a certain amount of violence, but it wasn’t gory or detailed. The deaths of the children, while disturbing, weren’t dwelled upon and weren’t overly emotional.
The second book in the series, Catching Fire, was a good read as well. I didn’t enjoy it as much, but it wasn’t disagreeable. The violence was ratcheted up a bit in this book, and was described in a bit more detail, but wasn’t distasteful.
I hated the third book, Mockingjay. It was disturbing, dark, and distasteful. Violence and torture was rampant and described in gory detail. The book was difficult to read and didn’t seem to flow as easily as the first two. A large portion of the book centered on the complete emotional and mental breakdown of the main character, and thoughts of suicide were prevelant. One of the most disturbing scenes involves the firebombing of a group of children, the children (including toddlers) have been rounded up in a pen and are cold and hungary. A hovercraft drops down packages whish appear to be a type of gift. As the children are eagerly opening them, some explode. Emergency medical aid workers rush in to help, at which point the remaing packages explode, killing the defenseless children. Themes of suicide, anti-government sentiments, murder, torture and even prostitution run throughout the book.
All in all, I find the third book to be a disappointing end to a great series of books.