Hello friends! With the new Hunger Games novel being published in May, more and more bloggers could be seen rereading the original trilogy, and I, ever the hype-follower, became interested in rereading the trilogy, as well. I read The Hunger Games for the first time around six years ago, so my memories were hazy at best, which made me a bit scared to jump into this reread. Enter Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity, who I was able to convince to embark on this journey with me, and voilá, we were ready for takeoff.
Today, Becky and I have brought you a discussion about the trilogy, which contains our least/most favorite parts of the novels and our opinion about the adaptations, among other things. It’s a bit of a chunky post, but I tried my best to break it up to different parts and add a little color to it to make it more readable.
warning: spoilers ahead!
OUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PARTS
BECKY: My favourite part was the journey Katniss went on and her growth. I mean, even by the end she was still all about her family, but she found so many new people to consider family. Any time she spent time being friends with characters like Finnick, Haymitch, Peeta, and Johanna I was there cheering that she was realising there were people there who cared, because she was so closed off at the start.
VERA: Yes, I agree with you! I especially loved how Katniss was forced to change her opinion about other people. I felt like she went from writing off people to being more open to making connections. In Catching Fire, she was still pretty judgmental when it came to, say, Johanna, but she became more understanding and accepting by the end of the trilogy. My favorite part connects to the characters; like you, I loved reading about Katniss’s journey, especially her journey together with Peeta. I’m such a massive fan of this couple, and I adored seeing their gradual development.
“And then he gives me a smile that just seems so genuinely sweet with just the right touch of shyness that unexpected warmth rushes through me.”
BECKY: That’s actually something I forgot, I really loved how the romance between Katniss and Peeta progressed from being fake on Katniss’ side to actually being a strong connection. I’ve always felt sorry for Peeta in the first two books as it was obvious that he was already invested in their relationship while Katniss was off dithering about how she felt about Gale. I hated how Peeta was corrupted by the Capitol in Mockingjay but I appreciated how this led to the two being on equal footing as they both had to learn to trust one another again. That led to things being way stronger between them in the long run. Their relationship was a mutual thing built from shared experiences.
VERA: I completely agree, and the mention of Gale has reminded me that I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that Gale – and the romance between him and Katniss – was one of the worst parts of the trilogy. Going into this reread, I remembered disliking Gale, so I tried to give him a fair chance this time around and to see him as a good friend, which is what Katniss considers him to be, but I just couldn’t. He was manipulative and overly jealous, I couldn’t grasp why Katniss was so invested in their friendship, much less why she had any romantic feelings towards him.
“I knew you’d kiss me.”
“How?” I say. Because I didn’t know myself.
“Because I am in pain,” He says. “That’s the only way I get your attention.”
Note: that quote is strictly for context, we both hated this part, lol.
BECKY: Gale was the worst. Don’t sugarcoat it. Absolute worst. I remember I wasn’t his number one fan going in but honestly, I think I blocked him out of my memory because surely he wasn’t always that bad? I’d have remembered that. I will say, in the first book I didn’t mind him… but he also wasn’t really present for most of that book so that’s probably why. When he was playing a starring role in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, though? I spent so much time in both of those books highlighting scenes where he was being terrible. He was never a good friend to Katniss, not when she needed him to be. He was jealous and petty and it frustrated the hell out of me that Katniss, a usually strong character, was continually left questioning herself when she interacted with him.
VERA: Yes, I agree with you. And I think what was the most frustrating was that he wasn’t called out on his bullshit. With the exception of Mockingjay’s ending, he was portrayed in a way more positive light than what he deserved. I just wish him being an awful friend who made Katniss feel insecure was addressed. In a book that addresses tons of issues, it was a bit surprising that the problems of this friendship/romance weren’t properly discussed.
BECKY: That’s true; even at the end Katniss really only broke ties with him as she knew she wouldn’t be able to see him without questioning if he was responsible for Prim. Such a let down. It would have been better if they could have discussed everything which happened in the war and I would have even been happy for them to be friends at the end, but only if they addressed how poorly he treated Katniss. I have a lot of rage towards Gale.
IS MOCKINGJAY A SATISFYING CONCLUSION?
VERA: I know the ending and Mockingjay itself is questioned even between the fans, and I can see why. I felt like, out of all three novels, this was the weakest. It concentrated so heavily on Gale and Katniss’ friendship (romance?) when other things would have been so much more interesting to see. I would have loved to see more of Haymitch and to learn more about District 13, particularly of the “common” folk of the district, who were not at all shown. Up to this point we saw the leaders of the Capitol and District 12, and we were also given a choice to emphasize with and understand the normal people of these places, like some of the folks at the market. When it comes to 13, though, we only saw Coin and other top ranking people. Compared to the other places we’ve seen, the world building of District 13 felt lackluster.
“Peeta and I had adjoining cells in the capitol. We’re very familiar with each other’s screams.”
BECKY: For me, the last book went exactly as I remembered it. I felt like it was slow at the start, vaguely developing District 13 and the people who lived there, and then barreled headlong into Katniss in the Capitol. The pacing was a little all over the place, but I remembered feeling like everything went by so fast, rushing to the ending, that it meant that the impact of the losses and everything which happened lost any emotion. The first time I read Mockingjay I didn’t even realise Finnick had died until he wasn’t there and I had to go back to spot the tiny moment where you read it happening. The same went for Prim’s death. I felt nothing and that always disappointed me, especially as even now I cry at Rue’s death in Hunger Games. I like a lot of aspects of Mockingjay, the exploration of District 13 and how it adapted to being outside of Capitol control. The rebellion was interesting and seeing the districts band together to deprive the Capitol of essentials was great. I even like that we see a slightly different side to Snow as he tries to play mind games with Katniss; he finally came across as human by being in his own environment. But I do wish the pacing was better and I got to feel the same emotional impact of losing characters here as I did in book one.
THE MOVIE ADAPTATIONS
VERA: I have to mention the elephant in the room, which is the adaptations. For me, reading Mockingjay especially reminded me of how much I love those movies. I wholeheartedly agree with your point about the deaths leaving me unemotional… they barely registered, so it was hard to care. In the film, however, I was more affected, especially by Finnick’s death. Something I’ve been feeling since Catching Fire is that, in some ways, the movies did a better job at telling this story than the books. It’s as if they kept all the solidly good parts of the books, deleted everything boring (with the exception of Gale, because his whole character should have been deleted, imo) and added some cool details, like the advanced technology. I know you said you wanted to rewatch the films, but based on what you remember now, how do you feel about this?
BECKY: I definitely feel like I need to rewatch the films, I don’t remember them as well as the books, or I mix up the books and the films in my head, at this point I don’t even know. I think I may have to spend time and see if the same things which bothered me in the books are there too (I mean, I know Gale’s there, but apart from him). I remember them being such good adaptations, even though I know a lot of things were missing, I think they probably streamlined the books. They certainly didn’t have pacing issues, I did not get bored watching them.
VERA: Oh yes, the pacing issues! They drove me mad in the books, especially when – for example in Catching Fire – the games lasted for such a short time compared to the rest of the story. On the other hand, the beginning, particularly the time spend in District 12, felt disproportionately long. (Although, yes, that may be the Gale-hater in me speaking.) Either way, I’m glad we got to reread these books – even if I lowered my rating of both Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I had expected the novels to have stood the test of time a bit better, but nonetheless, they were still enjoyable and I flew through them. Ultimately, reading this trilogy made me so nostalgic and proved that it is worth giving another chance to my old favorites; even if they don’t totally live up to my old feelings, they can still provide me with an enjoyable and valuable reading experience.
“You’re still trying to protect me. Real or not real,” he whispers.
“Real,” I answer. “Because that’s what you and I do, protect each other.”
BECKY: I think these books were great, I have massive issues with certain characters and the pacing could have done with some work, but they were still fun. There aren’t many series I have read as many times as this one, I think this was my third reread. I’ve only reread Harry Potter more than that, and it still holds up in a lot of ways. I developed an appreciation for dystopian fiction reading this and I certainly found a lot of YA series from this. If I find myself having a rant over Gale after reading, that’s cool because this book started an amazing trend and it showed that we could read strong female characters who weren’t necessarily likable and yet we could still want them to come out on top in the end. Maybe I’m a little too kind to it because of nostalgia, but I’m okay with that. I’ll still probably reread it again, maybe if Suzanne Collins decides to do another prequel about characters I was actually interested in.
Have you read (or reread) the Hunger Games trilogy? What do you think about it? Would you want to revisit this or another favorite you had growing up?
Don’t forget to check out Becky‘s blog, she’s great!