by Nigel Law
I am, and I freely admit this, a Harry Potter fan, and strongly believe that there really is no other fantasy book series as good as it. Because of this, I am always rather biased when I start a new series, because I am simply sure that it will not match the adventures of Harry James Potter. Also because of this, I was rather scared of the Hunger Games, because it seemed, based on what other people around me had said about the series, that it was actually a potential rival to Harry, and so, for fear of changing opinion, I stayed away from it (Yes, it may sound a little silly, but that’s how it went.).
Finally, though, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought it. Despite the fact that I started it in the car with my rather loud younger sister, I was basically hooked from the first page. From the very beginning of the first book, a lifestyle is created that is so wonderfully intriguing, and yet simultaneously so terrible; those who have read the book will perhaps understand. By the end of the first book, I could tell something about the author, Suzanne Collins, and that is that she is not afraid to put in vivid descriptions of events in order to bring the reader closer to the experience. For some, though, this may be something to watch out for; particularly as the series progresses, there are some scenes that are perhaps a little too vivid for some younger readers. In other words, reader discretion is advised.
I finished the first book craving the second. It is nonstop action and intensity, and there is never a dull moment. The Hunger Games, both the series as a whole and the fictional event, is about a constant struggle to survive. I got the second book, and enjoyed it just as much. The second book is rather interesting. Without giving anything away, it has many of the same qualities that the first book had (even some of the same events done differently), except that the second book has a bit more to say about the series as a whole. The different perspectives that are introduced in the first book suddenly have a bit more light shined on them in Catching Fire, the title of the first sequel.
My reading sequence for Mockingjay, the final book in the series, went something like this: start it, read the beginning slowly, stop reading for a while, then read over 200 pages in the car and finish it. The reason for this, I think, is that the beginning is somewhat slow (not to mention a bit confusing too), because the part where Catching Fire left off is rather sudden, and to come back to it was slightly challenging. However, once I bypassed the beginning, the story picks up quite a bit. Mockingjay does what a really good series finale should do; answer questions readers may have had while reading the sequels, fill in gaps in the storyline, and keep you reading to the end.
Upon finishing Mockingjay, I double-checked to make sure that there were no more pages that I was missing, anything to give a little more closure to the ending. You see, by no means does the series have a “happy” ending; a better word might be melancholy, or maybe bittersweet. However, as readers will find out if they read the series, the end of the trials of the main character, Katniss Everdeen, in no way, shape or form makes up for half of the hardships and struggles that she had to go through in order to get to that point. So many close to her died (no names mentioned), and countless times she herself nearly joined them. So, when I finished the book I thought very hard about the series (ok, I cried, too), searching for some meaning that might be a substitute for closure, and luckily for my crushed spirit I found some.
The Hunger Games, one might say, is a really big metaphor. The series, and again, the fictional event seems to model perspective, desire, and man’s need for control. Even the name of the realm, Panem, has a hidden meaning. The Hunger Games is without a doubt a series that will make you think.
In conclusion, I would absolutely recommend the Hunger Games series, probably to boys and girls from age twelve and up. I’m sure some younger kids have read the series and enjoyed it, but some parts of the book really are rather vivid, and may be frightening. It’s not really a replacement for Harry Potter (again, probably biased) but it is an amazing series, both action-packed and thought-provoking, one that is sure to keep you turning pages as fast as Katniss can shoot with a bow and arrow. Just kidding, that’s physically impossible.