The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay {Book Review}

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I just finished re-reading this book! I was pretty much just as amazing as it was the first time around.

The best part about this book is Katniss. She is an incredible main character, and one of my all-time favorites. She is relatable, but has a lot of depth to her that is shown more and more as the novel progresses. You immediately begin to understand a sense of her character as she talks about how much she loves her little sister, and how much responsibility she feels to care for her entire family. Her bond with Gale is apparent right from the start, and it’s clear that their friendship means a lot to her. I love how Collins is able to create such a well-rounded character just from the very beginning, and without any info-dumping at all. You just get this sense of who she is, and it’s really strong.

Second of all, the story behind The Hunger Games is entertaining, sad, and engrossing. Even for the second time around, I couldn’t put this down. It’s easy to believe in a society that would show it’s power over the population by using its strength against them. Yes, it’s horrifying, but it’s certainly no worse than the horrors committed in the real-life events of The Holocaust. So while I think we’re very far off from this kind of government, it’s not totally “out there,” which makes the whole story even more believable and horrifying.

One thing that I noticed is how Katniss is portrayed during The Hunger Games itself. She doesn’t fight as much as many of the other competitors do, but her mental and physical strength is still totally evident in how she composes herself throughout the game. I appreciate how honorably and intelligently she plays the game, but I also wish that there had been just slightly more aggression from her. She does show her softer side during the Games, which is really important to her character development and growth, but I think that Collins made her less violent in order for her to maintain her relatability (not all readers would identify with somebody who kills in cold blood), but I think that maybe just a little bit more aggression from her would’ve made her character more interesting (but, too be fair, she is still interesting without that aspect). Although, you could also argue that her natural inclination is to be aggressive (although I don’t necessarily agree), and that Collins was showing off Katniss’ strength and her views on government oppression by having her not act the way contestants in The Hunger Games are supposed to act. But I think that there could’ve been a middle ground somehow that I just didn’t see. But that one small complaint isn’t enough to knock this one out of the 5-star range!

Ultimately, this book is incredible and like nothing else on the market. I still think that it’s one of the best dystopian novels ever written, and I loved it just as much the second time around! I’m so glad that I decided to re-read this.

5 Anchors

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I just finished my re-read of this book and — wow — I loved it just as much as I remember loving it the first time. Since it’s been so long since I’ve read the series, I didn’t really remember anything about it besides that it was my favorite “second book in a series” that I’ve ever read and how the Games were set up.

Recently, when I read Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, I was surprised by how much I loved it and thought that it might possibly steal the crown of “best second book in a series” from Catching Fire, but I was so wrongNothing can beat this book. If possible, it’s even more suspenseful than The Hunger Games, and the political pressure that began in the first novel is ramped up even more.

Katniss and Peeta’s relationship has a much different dynamic than it did throughout the first novel, though. While, during the Games themselves, there isn’t a lot of development with them (they are barely even together at all), the first half of the novel sheds a ton of light on where their relationship now stands. It’s not quite as exciting as The Hunger Games, but there’s really a lot of depth to them that’s important to the storyline. We also get a lot of development between Katniss and Gale, which is really nice, because we don’t see them together very much during the first novel.

I’m not even sure whether I’m #TeamPeeta or #TeamGale at this point. I love them both! Their characters are both representative of two extremely different ways of life and futures for Katniss. Who she chooses says a lot about who she is and who she wants to become. I love how Collins has crafted this love triangle to be such a crucial element of character development for Katniss. It’s not just something that’s there to be there…her relationships with both of them are important both to her personality and her political survival. It’s a very unique situation that (from what I’ve seen) has yet to be seen done well again in YA literature since this series.

Ultimately, Catching Fire gives us more of a lot of things that we only scraped the surface of in The Hunger Games, like: Peeta’s personality, Haymitch’s backstory, President Snow’s personality and point of view, Katniss’ relationship with Cinna, and the political significance of the Games themselves. I honestly don’t remember anything about Mockingjay or how this series ends, so I’m super excited to begin my third re-read and finish the trilogy!

5 Anchors

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Wow, this book totally blew me away. I know that I’ve read it before, but I pretty much remembered nothing about it, so every twist and turn was still surprising to me. Before I re-read this book, I randomly saw a bunch of people reminiscing about this book, complaining about how it didn’t live up to their expectations, and that it’s one of the worst and most disappointing series enders. So, going into it a second time, I fully expected to be totally underwhelmed.

But it was incredible. To be fair, I completely understand why some people weren’t fans of this book. Katniss has changed since The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. She is still the same fiery, independent, inspiring heroine that we have grown to love, but she has been greatly affected by the horrific tragedies that have befallen her over the two-year span in which this series takes place. She is vulnerable, she is hurt, she is tired, and she doesn’t always know what to do. She’s a 17-year-old girl leading a revolution, and Collins manages to make her both a monumental hero and a completely relatable and realistic character all at the same time.

Some people probably went into this book expecting Katniss to become this all-powerful soldier who takes the bull by the horns and charges into Snow’s mansion and shoots him in the face. And while that would’ve made for an exciting and action-packed story, I don’t think that it would’ve been in line with Katniss’ character, and it’s important to get a sense of a leader’s weaknesses in order to truly respect and understand them. Collins manages to unite both Katniss’ human side and her “superhero” side in Mockingjay, in a way that makes me truly appreciate what an amazing and important piece of work this series is in YA literature. Many authors have since tried to recreate what Collins has done, but nobody has yet to top this ground-breaking and inspirational story.

Even though I do emphatically believe everything I just said, I did have to ultimately rate this book a 4.5 stars instead of the full 5. My first problem with it was how the death of an integral character was portrayed. This character had become so beloved to me that I wanted the chance to be able to fully grieve their death and deal with it emotionally. But the incident just suddenly takes place and then everybody immediately moves on. It’s barely discussed for more than a few short sentences, and I felt like this character deserved so much more than that. Part of it is understandable because, in the circumstance, there wasn’t exactly time for prolonged grief from the surrounding characters, so I think that Collins was trying to show how ruthless and unforgiving battle can be. But I just wish that there had been even just a tiny bit more time spent on it, because the character certainly deserved as much.

My second problem was the ending of the book, specifically the last chapter and the epilogue. While I applaud Collins unfailing ability to stick to realism, I wish that Katniss’ story would’ve ended with more of a bang. Her attitude towards the end is what you might expect from somebody who has gone through what she has gone through, but I hoped for more. I wanted there would be this huge happy ending, but it was more just…mediocre. It’s realistic in its boringness, but not quite the ending that I had wished for her. But maybe that’s the point.

I honestly wasn’t on a side when it came to Peeta vs. Gale. I liked both of them a lot, and knew that no matter who Katniss ended up with, I would be a little disappointed. But I wish that their ending could’ve been more on the happier side, and I wish that there had been more of a resolution with the other party involved. That person deserved more as well, and they didn’t get it.

But it was still all around a phenomenal book. I liked the ending of it, politically, and I was very engrossed throughout the entire thing, especially during the scenes in which Katniss plays an integral part in the actual battles against the Capitol. This series is the best of the best in YA literature, and I consider myself lucky to have read it and enjoyed it so much. I’m sad that it’s over.

4.5 anchors

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4 responses to “The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay {Book Review}

  1. Yay, so glad you love these! Catching Fire really IS the best second book (and I agree, with Unravel Me in close second). In fact, it was my favorite of the trilogy…which was why I was a bit apprehensive about the movie. But they did a GREAT job on it! (Have you seen it yet?!)
    I loved Mockingjay, despite what people thought of it. One of my favorite things about Suzanne Collins is she has the balls to rip beloved characters away from you. Yes, it sucks, but it’s real. Life doesn’t come without sacrifice; and in a true war, not everyone would survive. There are no happy endings in war. I think the deaths gave the book realism. I love authors who pull no punches!

    • Agree with you about everything you just said, haha. And yeah Catching Fire is my favorite of the series, too. I totally give Collins props for being so realistic with Mockingjay. Even though it might not have been how I wanted things to go, I still totally appreciated it and thought that it was really realistic. I’m not even saying that I would’ve been happier if she had done some of the things I mentioned…it’s amazing the way it is, and things don’t always happen the way you want them to, even in books. And I love it when authors write like that.

      I just saw the Catching Fire movie tonight, actually! It was AMAZING. I cried like 4 times, haha.

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