Full Review of the Hunger Games Series

Full Review of the Hunger Games Series

Sugar Helena Constant, Staff Writer

I may be biased, but I think that the Hunger Games series might be one of the best dystopian stories of all time. Between the world building, the action, and the drama, it could be considered the perfect YA franchise, with four bestselling books, four record-breaking movies (and one on the way), and generally favorable reviews. There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of the series, or even read it, but if you haven’t, here are all the reasons you should (or shouldn’t). 

Heavy spoilers will be underlined.

The Hunger Games

This book might actually be my favorite in the whole series. I mean, I don’t think there’s any book that is truly deserving of a 10/10, but if I had to choose one that was close, I would definitely pick The Hunger Games. One of the reasons I love it so much is that it has something for everyone. It isn’t completely loyal to any one category or genre. It has the perfect mix of action, romance, drama, tragedy, comedy, and social commentary. The prose is not too flowery but not at all dull, it is brutal and violent without being grotesque, the ending is somewhat sad but still hopeful, the characters are both flawed and likable, it is bleak and dark but still fun, and the commentary is subtle but not completely hidden. It is structured very well, the pacing is not ever too fast or too slow, and there are no huge info dumps but we aren’t left completely in the dark. It is a potpourri of all the best parts of fiction, a mixture of everything anyone could want from a novel. Not to mention, it is an absolute page turner. From the first chapter to the last, you will never be able to put it down. It will have you saying “One more chapter” for hours, and even when it ends you’ll be hungry for more. So I highly recommend this book, regardless of your background or your preferences, it is an absolute must-read. 9.5/10


Catching Fire

This may be an unpopular opinion amongst Hunger Games fans, but I think that Catching Fire does not meet the expectations set in the first book. Don’t get me wrong, I love Catching Fire, but it is much farther from perfect than its predecessor. First of all, I hate love triangles. Especially in a story like The Hunger Games, because whether Katniss will pick Peeta or Gale feels like a very minor problem compared to, I don’t know, literally everything else that happens in the books. I know it’s a YA novel and they have to have romantic tension otherwise it won’t get published, because apparently they think that’s the only way to get our attention, but it still takes up too many pages in a book that’s supposed to be about a literal battle to the death. And it doesn’t help the fact that it takes like 200 pages to get to the actual Hunger Games, and while I didn’t mind it in the first book because the events in the first half of it was actually necessary background information for the Games, in Catching Fire it takes nearly a third of the book for the Quarter Quell to even be mentioned, and then after that, they just dive right into it. The pacing is just so odd. What bugs me the most is the fact that it wouldn’t even be that bad if they spent the same amount of time on the Games as they did on all the events before it. And in the actual Games, for some reason it feels so rushed. It was just a rapid-fire of dangerous obstacles, it was more like a video game than a fight to the death. Still, I did like the book a lot. I thought the arena was pretty cool, and I liked the introduction of other victors, (specifically Johanna and Finnick, two of my favorite characters in the whole series). I also liked the exposure to life in the other districts, and some more backstory to the Games. The ending was a tad abrupt, but it was still a fantastic cliffhanger. Overall, it was a pretty solid sequel, and a great continuation of the franchise. 7.7/10



I try not to judge this book too harshly, because of course a book in a series called The Hunger Games without an actual hunger games in it isn’t going to be absolutely perfect. With that in mind, however, I think I can definitely say this is my least favorite book in the whole series. It’s not bad or anything, it could be better, but it’s not really life-changingly brilliant like the others. First of all, I think it maintains the same problem the previous book had, which is that the first half is pretty boring; unnecessary, even. The first half of Catching Fire at least had stuff going on that would be important later, however dull, but in Mockingjay I’d say a good 40% could be omitted and it would have the same effect. Second, Katniss “dies” like five times in the whole book. I’m all for scaring the readers and all that, but more than once or twice, it’s just like “come on, we know she’s not gonna die. Just get on with it.”  And I wouldn’t mind it as much if ten percent of the book wasn’t dedicated to Katniss waking up in a hospital being confused and in pain after her “death”. Seriously, there are other ways to keep a reader engaged. Third, there were so many pointless deaths. This book was so morbid, so unnecessarily bleak at times. So many characters were killed off for no particular reason, and so much bad stuff happened I was actually overwhelmed. And this is coming from someone who loves sad stories! I couldn’t properly mourn any of the characters who died, because like three pages later, another one died. Like, give us a break! Give Katniss a break! I know this is war and everyone dies whether you like it or not, but come on. Also, they really ramped up the social commentary in this book. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I feel like certain pieces of dialogue were shoved in just to get a point across. Now that I have that out of my system, I can say that Mockingjay had one of the best endings of any book series I’ve ever read. I liked how it was a somewhat happy ending, but there was still so much lost in the end it was more like “I’ve won, but at what cost?” It was the very definition of the word “Bittersweet”, and I really enjoyed it. Not to mention what Katniss did to Coin in the penultimate chapter, because that was the most bada** thing I’ve ever seen anyone do in fiction. Honestly, I’m willing to overlook all of the boring or unnecessary parts for that ending. So, was it the best book I’ve ever read? No, absolutely not. But would I have ended the trilogy any other way? Never, not in a million years. 6.8/10


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

When I was first reading the original three books of the Hunger Games series, did I imagine myself seeing President Snow as anything but a blood-thirsty monster with scales and a lump of coal in place of heart? Absolutely not, but yet here I am. I’m usually not very fond of prequels, I mean stories like the Hunger Games are supposed to make you wonder what happens next, not what happened before. But even so, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes surpassed every expectation and first impression I had, and I am still trying to process it. However, though I think very highly of it, it is different from the first book in that it’s not for everybody. While the other books were a little less than 400 pages, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a whopping 517 pages, and unfortunately, not all of them are winners. It wasn’t quite action-packed as the trilogy; it seemed kind of boring at certain parts. I liked how we got to see the Capitol’s perspective of the games, but it was kind of frustrating that we didn’t see a lot of what happened in them, because the tributes were always hiding. I liked how there was more backstory on the first rebellion in Panem, as well as the origins of certain aspects of the games and certain songs. Even so, I thought the book left me with more questions than answers. I thought the characters could’ve been done better, Lucy Gray had so much potential, but there’s a lot about her that’s left a mystery, although I guess we can blame that on the protagonist of the book being Snow. I did feel a little bit of sympathy for Snow in the beginning, but that was short-lived because he became so annoying in the last third of the book. But I think he was pretty well-written for someone who is responsible for the death of thousands. In the first half I thought, “How could this guy possibly become such a terrible person?” And in the second half I was like, “Oh. That’s how.” I think the book is a perfect example of an unreliable narrator, and while some might be annoyed by it, personally I thought it was an interesting choice. The pacing was off at times, I thought the transition from Hunger Games to Peacekeeping was rushed, and so was the start of the games. I think it got a little cheesy in the beginning of the last third, but I’m willing to forgive it for that ending. Even though the book was kind of boring and some parts seemed pointless at times, it all pays off in the end. Like, it ends on a bang (multiple, actually), and I’m STILL reeling from it. If this is the last Hunger Games book ever, I’m not even complaining, because wow. Anyways, like I said before, this book isn’t for everybody. I liked it a lot, but I think only the most patient of people will be able to fully enjoy it. 7.3/10