The Hunger Games Trilogy
WARNING: SPOILERS, AHOY!
You’re going to have to bare with me on this one. I mahoosively underestimated how much I wanted to write, and I’ve actually lent my copies to someone, so I’m working from memory and quotes of the internet.
Let’s start with the basics; I have never seen a better use of present tense narration, which I think comes partly from Collins’s wonderful grip on characterisation, but also the sheer necessity for it. How uninteresting these books would have been if we knew whether or not Katniss had survived the Games from her use of past tense. Then of course we’ve got this wonderful concept of a teenager, dealing with such an adult world. She is sexualised, objectified, and then thrown into a pit of snakes, over and over, until she becomes catatonic. The contrast is heart-wrenching. Impeccable.
I swallowed the first book whole. I began at 10.30 one Sunday morning, and put it down, completed at 1 am, Monday. Panem is masterfully built, with love seeping in unnoticed; memories of history lessons and previous Hunger Games, songs, and bizarre creatures crafted for purpose. The Capitol, the fashion, the food, were described with precision detail. In fact my mouth still waters at the mental image of that beef stew. And that narration kept my mind right there, with Katniss, as she felt every loss and every win. Of course, the novel’s not perfect. I was smacked in the face by a error two pages in, when puts on her boots before her jeans. And I did wonder why, in a survival situation, no-one mentions having to go to the bathroom. Not even a line saying that the Capitol slipped them something to stop them from having to go (because no-one wants to watch that on TV, blah, blah, blah). This is just me being picky though. Let’s face it, I was mesmirised for 14 and a half hours. Even when I got up to shower, or eat, I was still thinking about it.
This captivation continued into the second novel, in which I promptly fell for Finnick (who here wasn’t?/won’t be?). Just the image of him rising from the water with a trident in his hand (fans self with copies of Heat Wave, Pillow Talk and P.S. I Love You.) The second novel in a trilogy often fall flat, but while Catching Fire starts slow, it reveals itself to be the most surprising of the three books in terms of plot. Not only this but Collins manages to give a soul to each and every character who enters the Quarter Quell Games, something she mercifully skipped in the first book. It has the effect of making every inevitable death twice as painful.
For me, it was Mockingjay that struggled to hold my attention. This was possibly due to the uneasy, claustrophobic feel of District 13, the distinct lack of Peeta, or even the unsatisfactory climax (I was irritated by the result, considering the incredible death toll. But then, when has the climax of a dystopian novel ever had a satisfactory feel?) It was the resolution that made the final book for me, in particular the epilogue, which I have to give a round of applause for. Stylistically speaking, Collins does something remarkable in only a couple of pages. She ages Katniss’s voice, to the point where it took me a moment to realise it was still her talking; “They play in the meadow. The dancing girl with the dark hair, and blue eyes. The boy with blond curls and grey eyes, struggling to keep up with her on his chubby toddler legs.” For the first time in three books, Katniss is not thinking about herself at the start of a chapter, and she continues like this. She no longer puts her own welfare before the welfare of others. Yet it’s still her voice; matter-of-fact, with just a touch of tenderness.
It is rare that I manage to motivate myself through an entire series of novels, but Collins has created something truly stunning. Sure it has its faults, but then so does Harry Potter (which I didn’t finish by the way). The Hunger Games Trilogy is something truly special, and I’m so glad I didn’t ruin it for myself by watching the films first. Now I’m off to bathe myself in Jennifer Lawrence. Go forth, and READ.
Also Happy St. David’s Day!!!!