Some stories you read for entertainment or information. Some stories you read and forget. And then there are the stories, that are few and far between, that have the ability to change your life and stay with you forever. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is one of those rare stories that you read and you know you won’t ever forget. From the moment you turn the first page, you are caught, and she doesn’t let you go even after you’ve finished the last book in the series, The Mockingjay.
The Synopsis. For those of you who don’t know the backstory of the books, I will try to summarize it for you briefly without giving too much away. The story takes place in the ruins of what used to be North America, in a country now called Panem. It is about a 17 year old girl, Katniss Everdeen, who risks her life to save her little sister from the “reaping”, a yearly event run by the corrupt government of Panem, in which all children are forced to participate. Two names are drawn out of a hat for each of the 12 districts of Panem. Once all the contestants have been drawn, they are put into a ring and forced to kill each other off until there is one winner, who becomes the victor of that year’s “Hunger Games”. What follows is one of the most epic stories ever told.
The Plot. The plot is gripping, a masterminded story full of twists, turns and surprises on every page. One of the things I love most about these books is that every chapter ended on a cliff hanger, so you literally HAD to keep reading. There was no way to stop. Not many writers have the ability to do this – to keep readers so enthralled in a story, that they simply cannot put the book down until they find out what happens next, and next, and next, etc. Suzanne Collins has the rare ability to weave together the pieces of the puzzle into a beautiful, inspirational tale of heroism, love, good vs. evil, and the strength of the human spirit. It is a story that teaches us to hope even when there doesn’t seem to be any reason to.
The Characters. I don’t know what I can say about the characters in these novels except that they are unforgettable. Never will you find another heroin like Katniss Everdeen. Never will you find another selfless soul like Peeta. Never will you find the strength and genius of a character like Gale. Never will you meet a villain like President Snow. I could go on. The characters in these books are so well developed. You feel like you really know each and every one of them personally by the end. You want to laugh with them, cry for them, and warn them of what’s coming next. You will find yourself praying that they all survive and worrying that they will not. The essence of a good story is in it’s characters. If you don’t have strong characters, then you won’t have a story. Collins’ characters will have you cheering them on to the very end.
The Theme. Maybe I should have called this section “The ThemeS” – plural, because there are many that I could draw upon. But if I had to pick one, I’d say the major theme that runs through all three books is hope; the resiliency of the human spirit to battle for good, to battle for justice and the ability for good to win out over evil. The depths of depravity in this book seems to know no end. The government is beyond corrupt; it is evil to it’s very core. The characters are crushed, beaten, and tortured almost beyond repair. Yet, they push forward, scarred emotionally and physically- willing to die for what they believe in. Willing to risk whatever it takes to change the stars. And that’s what it really seems like they will have to do – literally change the stars, change the hand of fate. It seems like an impossible feat. I guess that’s why I loved these books so much. It’s a story of power, of what one person can do to change the world.
I hope I have convinced you to read these books and I hope I have conveyed to you what a worthwhile read this series was. The test of a good writer, of a good story teller, is whether or not they can make a story stick with a reader. I read the first two books in the series, The Hunger Games & Catching Fire, a year before the third and final book, The Mockingjay, was published. During that year, I found myself constantly coming back to the story, wondering how it would end. Now that I have read the last installment, I find myself constantly reflecting on the series. The story stuck with me. The novels are beautifully crafted, the characters extremely well developed, and the story itself is unforgettable. I would say, that Suzanne Collins has proved herself an excellent story teller.