Today I have finished reading “Mockingjay”, the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Of course, that implies I read all three of them, which is true. As most of you know, the first book, titled The Hunger Games, just like the trilogy, was already adapted in a movie at the time of this article. I have also watched the movie at its premiere, besides reading the book.
I usually read the books before watching the movies, and I did the same with Hunger Games, because the reading experience is much better if read before watching the movie, before getting in contact with that specific universe. Except maybe the Star Wars trilogies, which had books made AFTER the movies were already written. Those I read the other way around – at least for the new trilogy. That’s your biggest exception right there!
After I read the first book, and before getting the chance of seeing the movie, I got plenty of feedback from other people that got in touch with The Hunger Games one way or another. First, there were those among the people that recommended the book to me in the first place, saying “a movie is coming, this is a solid book, not a masterpiece, but something very interesting and with a lot of potential, and definitely entertaining”. Second, there were the haters: “The Hunger Games is crap”, “The Hunger Games is like the next Harry Potter, therefore crappy”, or “That’s the greatest piece of shit ever” and all kinds of commentaries evidently emanated by those that didn’t even read the first book in its entirety, but drew conclusions by reading synopses, or various presentations of the book, mainly centered on advertising it rather than emphasizing its qualities.
And third, there was this guy who’s my lawyer, who read some of the first book (I don’t think he read it all), and stopped at some point saying: “Dude, The Hunger Games is sort of like Battle Royale.” So I looked into it, and there were definitely some similarities. I don’t know if Suzanne Collins (the author of “The Hunger Games”) really did copy some stuff from there, since authors often tend to think of ideas other authors thought before (it happened to me too, had a genius idea once, only to find out Nikos Kazantsakis already wrote something like that in The Last Temptation, though not exactly what I had in mind – I might take inspiration from him and write about it at some point). So although it is similar, “The Hunger Games” is in no way a bullshit version of “Battle Royale”.
“The Hunger Games” is a good book that is based on an interesting idea. A future of mankind that is not so shiny. And children forced to kill themselves for entertainment of the masses, in a contest bearing the same aforementioned name: The Hunger Games. Clearly a book about crazy people. Other than that, it’s okay to read, and very entertaining.
Now, “Catching Fire”, the second book, takes another approach to the same subject, continuing the actions and events from the first one. Therefore, it is more intense, and I dare to say it’s a better book than the first one. Definitely more action-packed, and with more twists of events than the first – which basically followed a predetermined pattern. So at this point I was being very optimistic, hoping for the grand finale in the third one.
“Mockingjay” is the last book in the series and it ends “The Hunger Games” saga. It is different than the first two volumes. Clearly much different than both of them in relation to how different “Catching Fire” was from “The Hunger Games”. But unfortunately this difference is not at all as good as I would have hoped. It is very slow-paced, the interesting stuff begins approximately at page 300 out of 375 or something like that. And then the main character, who’s badly mind-fucked by the toxic environment around her (on top of the fact that she’s a woman 🙂 – calm down ladies, I’m just joking, I love you!) has all sorts of weird feelings and twinges of conscience and then the ending is not what you’d expect. And not what you’d like to not expect either. It’s dull, sad, and happy at the same time. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but I won’t give any more details in order not to spoil something for you.
Basically, my advice about “The Hunger Games” is as follows:
Case 1: You’re an avid reader, like me, and you’ll be very tempted to read the books before watching the movies (or not watch the movies at all). Then do that, read them, but leave the third one out. Yeah, you heard me, read only the first two. For the last one, just watch the movie (which I assume will be out in a few years from now), because it only takes two hours of your life, and gives you the same amount of information, and probably the same amount of frustration and disappointment also, without being as boring as the book. Probably, since it’s not out yet, but the base material is not much, so I don’t expect it to be very diverted from the book, unless in a positive way, in which case even better!
Case 2: You are a reader, and prefer reading books before watching movies, but you are very selective with what you read, and often you openly criticize plenty of books you think are weak. My advice: don’t read the books, jump at the movies. Or leave the movies out as well, your choice.
Case 3: You don’t like to read. My advice: watch the movies. Leave the books with themselves.
Case 4: You live hundreds, or maybe thousands of years from now and accidentally came upon this piece of history (here’s to hoping the letters of the last word will not change their position in time). Know that something called “The Hunger Games” is simply a work of fiction, is invented, created from the mind of a person, and therefore not real, and we never lived in Panem nor let children kill themselves for entertainment. Nah, we beat the crap out of them and send them begging on the streets, so that we get money for alcohol and tobacco, therefore we’re much more civilized. 🙂
So watch out for the second movie in the series, ”Catching Fire”, while maybe reading the second book. That’s an idea. For now. Just don’t read the third one, unless you’re very anxious to find out what happens next. It helps cure the anxiety. Really, it does, it’s that boring! 😀
Additional Information: Covers provided by Scholastic for the latest UK version of the Young Adult saga. Definitely the best format of the books at the moment this article was written, if you’re interested in buying paperback.