Hunger Games Series Review
I just finished watching Hunger Games, reminding me just how much I enjoyed the first book. I’m now looking forward to seeing Catching Fire, even though I thought the series fell flat.
The first book was amazing! The unthinkable happens and to save her sister, Katniss is thrown head first into a series of situations that are expected to kill her. Although she has every right to give up or have a psychological break down, she fights through and even finds a way for her and Peeta to make it out in one piece.
There was a bit of foreshadowing in this first book when Peeta admits his love for her, though reading between the lines, it seems like something he and Haymitch came up with to help keep her alive. This was a nice twist that she was able later to use to her and Peeta’s advantage, but there was no reason for them to leave her out of the planning. When it was revealed, there was no camera on her looking for legitimate surprise. It just seemed like something they thought she didn’t need to know, which bothered me.
This continued in the second and third books. People kept plotting with her as the star player, yet they don’t keep her informed. A highlight was when they break her out of the second Arena without telling her what the plan was or even that there was one. Events spiral further and further out of her control and instead of trying to take that control back, which is what I expected her to do, she simply does what other people tell her, going so far as following others into a battle zone for pictures rather than to fight. In the end, she has a complete psychological meltdown and is basically kept away from everyone else, even when the good guys won. This really ruined the series for me.
People have argued that this was what made the series realistic and refreshing. That may be, but I don’t read fiction for that level of realism. I like to see the world throw all the shit it can at the main character and for that character to come out alright in the end. Why? Because the real world isn’t like that. In the real world, people are put into situations that they can’t handle and it breaks them. I want my fiction to support my delusion that I will make it through whatever tough spot I’m facing and my struggle will make me a better person in the end. If a fictional character can’t make it through their situation which is 1000x worse than mine, how am I going to survive my mundane problems?
If I had written the series, I would have done it much different. I love the first book, so I wouldn’t change it, though I would have made it the 73rd Hunger Games. The second book would have followed Katniss as she worked with Haymitch and Peeta to train the next year’s fighters. She would learn the behind-the-scenes politics from Haymitch that she had missed the previous year and in doing so, she would have made many acquaintances. She and Peeta would be famous, of course, and many people would want to be her friend. As they got to know her, however, they would realise just how hard the arena was on her and how she could have died, and how others are dying for their entertainment. When those from her district died, they would see how real it was for her and they would start to think that maybe all is not right in the world. The third book would follow events similar to Catching Fire, where the capital tries to maintain control by throwing previous victors back in the arena. Unfortunately, this backfires and the citizens of the capital rise up alongside the 12 districts to stop the games. Only 5-7 people are left in the arena when everything shuts down and they are allowed to go home. Katniss is war-hardened with some PTSD, but she’s working through it.
This layout has all of the elements that make the first book so good, but on a grander scale. Her sister being chosen is the catalyst for the first book, while her participating in the games is the catalyst for the series; In the first book, she uses Peeta’s love for her as a way to gain sympathy from viewers, while she uses their favouritism to try to change the status quo in my version of the 2nd book; and finally, her supposed romance with Peeta, which made her more of a person to the viewers and forced the game master to change the rules and allow both of them to survive has the same effect has her interactions with her new capital friends who help the 12 districts stop the game once and for all. To me, this is much more satisfying and much less bitter-sweet. Why couldn’t it have happened like this?