Does The Hunger Games Trilogy Stand Against The Passage of Time? An In-Depth Review

In the now distant summer of 2019, I decided to make my summer reading goal to re-read some of my favourites. The Hunger Games trilogy scored very high in this, in fact it was the first book that came to mind. Back in the day of 2009, I finished the first part in three days. Keeping in mind that I found it hard to find interesting books, and read it in English despite only having known the language for about five years. Thus, this was record worthy. This happened to be my first touch of English Young Adult literature as well.

Now a good ten years later, almost everyone knows what The Hunger Games trilogy is about but let's take a moment to recall it:

Panem is split into 12 districts and each year, each of those districts has to send one boy and one girl into the capital for the annual Hunger Games. This is a murderous "game" in which these children kill each other and the last person standing is the victor. One year, Prim is drawn as 12's female tribute, but Katniss can't let this happen. Instead she volunteers to take her place. In the end, she and Peeta - a local baker - get send to the Hunger Games. During the games, Peeta and Katniss become allies and pretend to be a romantic couple to get the people's good will.

In the end, they are the sole survivours, but there can only be one victor. So Katniss devises a plan that keeps both of them alive. Unknowingly, it is the first spark of a revolution in the districts. They want to defy the capitol, and Katniss becomes the face of this movement.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The first impression that I had when I picked this up in the year 2019, is that The Hunger Games, and the following parts: Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, age really well. The story and setting is timeless, alongside the way it is written. The writing is not easy or complicated to aim at the certain audience. Instead, it flows smoothly and injects Katniss' sarcasm. As well as keeping up the pace when needed.

The scene when Prim is chosen as a tribute is within the first 50 pages, and I felt every single emotion on those pages. It hooks you and takes you along, making you feel what Katniss feels: desperation, contempt, anger, hopelessness ...

The trilogy is strictly told from Katniss' point of view, and as such we gain the most insight through her thoughts. Katniss is not a run-of-the-mill hero who enjoys her position as the face of the revolution. She is merely 17 years old when the revolution starts, and while she has seen a fair share of horrors which have marked her, she cannot constantly bear the death, horrors and responsibility. Often, she is in the game for her own motives and tries to push through. While she has nothing against the revolution per se, it is hard for her to cope with everything that it requests of soldiers. This is simply due to the fact that she is not a soldiers. She is a child that got sent to The Hunger Games, and consequently suffers from PTSD. The events from the following books do nothing to better her mental state.

This makes Katniss into one of the most realistic heroes out there. Despite the physical and mental damage, she still pushes through. She is there when it counts. In a sense, Katniss herself is nothing special because she breaks, cries, and does irrational things. In that respect, she is very normal. At the same time, she is a hero because of how human she is and despite being shattered, broken, and bent she still mends and goes on.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The character development does not stop with Katniss. Gale also has a shift, which mostly happens off screen. He is mentioned in "The Hunger Games," and seems like a kind person who supports his family by all means, and is fiercely loyal. He seems gentle, even though he holds contempt against the Capitol. In "Mockingjay" we learn that Gale saw District 12 burn and get bombed into oblivion, and throughout the book you can tell how much this has changed him. He sees the Capitol and its army as no longer human. He adopts an almost ruthless soldier's mindset, and is willing to use inhuman tactics to will their enemies to their knees. At the same time, he remains kind and gentle towards Katniss and others but there is always this streak that you can tell came from watching such a traumatic event unfold.

This change also effect that love triangle that looms in the background of The Hunger Games trilogy. While it is hyped up in media and possibly in the films, in the books it only lurks in the shadows. I dare say that overall, it takes up less than 100 pages. Katniss puts it perfectly, when she mentions that she has more pressing issues than dating.

Both Gale and Peeta are very important to her, which shows in every page of the book. As well as her family, after all she is fiercely loyal to them and doesn't want any harm to come to any of the people she loves - platonic or otherwise. I'd even go so far that you could interpret Katniss as being on the asexual and even aromantic spectrum. The books shine in the fact that both Gale and Peeta never pressure Katniss into make a decision now.

The most important part is that in "Mockingjay" they are even shown as having some sort of bond, despite the fact that Gale and Peeta should be "enemies" because they want the same girl. However, they make it clear and without a shadow of doubt that the choice is going to Katniss' and Katniss' alone.

""Well, it won't be an issue much longer. I think it's unlikely all three of us will be alive at the end of the war. And if we are, I guess it's Katniss's problem. Who to choose." Gale yawn. "We should get some sleep."
"Yeah." I hear Peeta's handcuffs slide down the support as he settles in. "I wonder how she'll make up her mind.""

I also enjoy that the book makes sure to highlight everyone's mental struggles. None of them are without it, and we particularly see it through Katniss who, despite being the hero, is far from immune from it. I feel that this is something that is side-swiped in other novels, and even in the Hunger Games movies for the sake of action.

However, I think it is a good, even a great thing. These characters are human, they react like people do, they are not heroic by being heroes. Instead they are heroes by keeping their heads up and getting up despite lying in the dirt for the sixth time. This is what The Hunger Games trilogy shines in: it is so painfully human it makes it a great read.

Furthermore, it perfectly balances action with emotion and confusion. Even ten years later and as a re-read, The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay provided thrilling and emotional reads which just highlights how good these books are.

The Hunger Games , Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Published2008by Scholastic Press
Pages:estimated 1155
Goodreads:Add to shelf

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