This review contains spoilers for all three books.

Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy has taken the world by storm. I read them for two reasons. Most of my Harry Potter friends loved the books, and I am intrigued by the casting for the first film. Most friends assured me I would love the books. A few who know me well said I’d likely want to throw the third book across the room. Fortunately, I ended up somewhere in between. I say fortunately because I read ebooks of the trilogy, and throwing the iPad across the room would certainly cause significant damage.

But, and here’s where I might be inviting haters, I didn’t love the books. Sure, they entertained me. But I didn’t have to go from one immediately into the next. In fact, it took me months to read all three books. Thanks to an on-the-fritz satellite dish and a bit of much needed downtime over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was finally able to finish Mockingjay. And because I am apparently in a small minority who had not already read the books, I’m actually going to give some specifics here about what I did and didn’t like in the series. So if you don’t want spoilers, STOP READING NOW.



OK, here we go.  In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen had a lot of promise as a heroine. From her breaking the rules to hunt to help her family to her willingness to enter The Hunger Games to save her sister Prim from having to compete, Katniss shows courage, gumption, and a healthy disrespect for the rules. As much as she loves Gale, she plays a good game in pretending to be in love with Peeta. And while there are the beginnings of a love triangle here, it does not dominate the story. Katniss’ effort to survive the  Games and save Peeta are what drives the story. We’re all united in cheering for Katniss and hating President Snow, because what kind of sadistic bastard sends off children to fight to the death?  I liked this book, and sort of got the appeal of the series even though I didn’t love it like I do some others.

Catching Fire I didn’t enjoy quite as much.  It re-hashed a lot of The Hunger Games but it introduced some interesting new characters, and  I definitely didn’t see the ending coming. That was actually a pleasant surprise, to learn about the resistance that was growing throughout Panem.  The story was entertaining enough that it kept me distracted while I was trying to keep my mind off some things going on around me. I thought this book did just what the middle book of a trilogy should do: advance the story and set up the reader for the ending of the saga.

Mockingjay, though, disappointed me.  I thought Katniss spent too much time worrying about if she loved Gale or Peeta. In the midst of a war, this didn’t feel authentic to me. I thought Katniss’ focus would again be on survival.  And I thought Katniss started to change, at least a little bit,  into the very people she despised.  I couldn’t believe that she voted to send the children of people from the Capitol into their own Hunger Games, especially after having survived two Games herself.  The killing of the children at the end bothered me. And so did Prim’s dying.  The whole story started by Katniss volunteering for the Games to spare Prim. To have Prim die in the end anyway sort of made the whole thing seem pointless. And in my perfect ending, Katniss would have chosen neither Gale nor Peeta. Instead, she would have chosen herself, chosen to figure out who she was after all she had been through, all she had survived, and all the killing she had done. And that would have been OK. I don’t feel like ending up with either Gale or Peeta was integral to the resolution of the story.  I think choosing herself would have been almost more interesting.

I’ll go see at least the first movie. Donald Sutherland and Lenny Kravitz seem to be excellent casting choices, and I want to see how the book is adapted.  I don’t hate the books. I just don’t love them like so many others do.