Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games book series has, so far, produced three top-selling books and two successful movie adaptations. I read The Hunger Games 3 or 4 years ago. Ever since then I’ve had a keen interest in this series. In my opinion it’s one of the most intriguing premises I’ve ever come across in books or movies. We’re given a hero who we get to know inside and out and grow to care about so deeply by the time she’s thrown into this game that’s as sick as it is thrilling. The last one alive wins. It sounds almost cliché these days after so many book and movie imitations, but Hunger Games was the first to pull us into this world of dog-eat-dog and keep us there until the breathtaking end.
Mostly for fun, and also for any newbies to the movies or books, I’ve decided to rank the books and movies. The Mockingjay movies 1 & 2 will, obviously be missing at this point, but I’ll try to re-do this list in a year and a half and see where they fall in the rankings too. Be warned, this list contains spoilers.
#5 – CATCHING FIRE (BOOK) – Following the brilliance of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire was a huge let down for me. There was way too much time spent in Katniss head, wrestling with how much she hated what had happened, and hated the show that she was being forced to put on. The Quarter Quell section that finally arrived in the last third of the book was a lot of fun and almost made up for the first 2/3rds, but then the ending was so abrupt and almost not there at all, that I ended the book really frustrated. It seemed to me that the most exciting scene was only mentioned in passing on the final pages. It left me wondering what Ms. Collins was thinking when she breezed through the best part of the story in a few sentences.
#4 – MOCKINGJAY (BOOK) – Part 3 of the series was an improvement from #2, but I still felt like it was an uneven story that seemed to catch its stride at times, only to get bogged down in slow plodding scenes. The climax in the capital was pretty good, although some of it was so weird it seemed more like a drug attic’s LSD trip than a rescue scene. Mockingjay also has a post-scripted ending that seems like more of an afterthought than a part of the story. Without giving anything away, I thought it was a plot point that should have been given much more attention.
3 – THE HUNGER GAMES (MOVIE) – The first movie in the series worked very well, as far as I’m concerned, in bringing the book to life. I was happy to see that it stayed fairly true to the source material. All in all I have no real complaints with the movie itself. At first, I had difficulty accepting Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. I really thought it should have been a smaller, thinner actress, because that’s how she is described in the book. But, Ms. Lawrence has done a great job in the role, and by the time the movie ended I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the part. On a side note, I was happy to see that the violence of the books was played down for the most part, making the whole thing much easier to watch.
#2 – CATCHING FIRE (MOVIE) – I thought the movie version of book#2 found a better balance between the melancholy scenes and the action scenes. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but this movie seemed a notch better than the first movie. I still found the ending to be frustrating, but it wasn’t as shocking to me because I expected it. Both movies are good, but this is my favorite of the movies, so far.
#1 – THE HUNGER GAMES (BOOK) – This one easily tops (or is it
bottoms) my list. It held my attention from page one. Katniss is one of the most fully fleshed out heroes that I’ve ever come across. We go every step of the way with her through her incredible journey, and it’s fascinating and exciting (at least in this book) to the very last page. Anyone who is new to this series should definitely start here. If you want to go on to the other books or the movies, that’s great too, but this book is a must.
A NOTE NOTE TO PARENTS – I do not recommend the books or the movies for preteen kids. However, I feel that the series is appropriate for most teens. Violence is the main issue here, in particular, teens killing each other. I recently gave in to my 11 year old and allowed her to read the books. First, though, I had a discussion with her about the seriousness of the premise. I did not want her to take the subject matter lightly. I don’t want the entertainment value of these or any books to overshadow the horror of humans killing each other. As long as she understands that, and she does, I’m fine with her enjoying The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.