by Suzanne Collins
Yes, everyone has already reviewed this. But I wanted my say too. I watched Battle Royale long before I read this book, and even though the concept is a pretty clear rip off, I still enjoyed Collins’s take on it. The games are brutal and are described brilliantly, and I appreciate a book that doesn’t shy away from the feel-bad vibes of killing a lovable character here and there. I’m a sucker for strong female characters and emotionally complex relationships, which is why I loved the first book when I read it. Katniss is described as having olive skin, which I read as her being mixed race or at least not explicitly white. I really appreciated it, and I think it is just more realistic in a story set in the future. As a side note, I felt really betrayed when I learned that the casting call for Katniss in the movie was explicitly for whites only. Read this for more thoughts on the race issues with the movie.
Before all this movie business came out, I read Catching Fire and I continued to enjoy Katniss’s rejection of all romantic attention directed toward her. The book was a pretty big copy/paste of the first book with a few tweaks here and there, but if I could enjoy The Hunger Games after Battle Royale, what was one more variation of the same story? The book annoyingly ended on a cliff-hanger, so I toiled and toiled until the third book came out….
All for nought. While The Hunger Games was one of the best books I read the year it came out, Mockingjay was one of the worst. It’s not even that bad if you compare it to other YA novels or even other dystopian novels, but I was comparing it to the first two novels in the series. It’s like Collins got wrapped up in the surge of feedback she was getting from teen fans online, and decided to make it about romance instead of about kicking oppressive government butt. Katniss spends most of the book nearly catatonic over who she will choose to be her boyfriend. I couldn’t be more disappointed if she ended up marrying a Mormon vampire. There is a tragic twist at the end that I found to be an emotional cheap shot, and the way Katniss makes her “big decision” (no, not about taking down the government–about who she will date, sillyhead!) is too convenient and predictable to give this book any compliments other than “great action sequences.” They are pretty good action sequences, though.
I recommend dystopia-lovers to read the first book. It stands alone quite nicely, and trust me when I tell you that it’s not worth it to read on.