For those of you who don't know what the series is about, it focuses on Katniss Everdeen, a sixteen-year-old living in North America sometime in the future. The country has been split into 12 districts and each year 12-18 year-olds from each district are chosen by a lottery to compete in a televised competition in a fight to the death called the Hunger Games. When Katniss's younger sister is chosen, she steps forward to take her place. The first book is full of nonstop action as Katniss is whisked away to the Capitol for training and grooming in preparation for the Games. Most of the book focuses on what happens during the Games and on Katniss's relationship with Peeta, the boy chosen from her district. The second book, Catching Fire, continues her story and brings in a lot of the survivors from other districts of previous Hunger Games. I don't want to say much more than that for those who haven't read it because I don't want to give too much away, but her choices in the first book greatly impact what happens in the second. This book also focuses a lot on the next Hunger Games. Mockingjay, the third book, does a complete 180 and is much slower with a completely different setting.
I actually saw the movie before I read the book, which I know you're not supposed to do. I was on the waiting list at the library, however, so I had to wait my turn. I read it about 2 weeks after I saw it and I felt they did a pretty good job. The book was better, mainly because I felt the relationship was developed more between Peeta and Katniss. I thought the first and second books were equally amazing, just because you didn't know what to expect. Mockingjay was so different from the first two, and Katniss is out of
the action for a while, so I had a harder time getting into it. I am
glad I finished out the series and was happy with the ending.
While the books are violent, they aren't overly gruesome and the author does a good job of making you really think about where this country is headed and what a single person can do. Peeta, especially, is a voice of reason in the chaos of the games and is the first to question their roles in it. Katniss is an extremely strong character who knows her mind and often speaks it. She's tough, but loves her family and shows great perseverance, sacrifice, and cunning. She can also be unforgiving, stubborn, and wary of others. I read these a few months ago and don't recall any foul language, but one character struggles with alcoholism and there is some sexual innuendo in one spot that younger readers probably won't understand. Just an FYI if your kids are going to be reading it. Overall, a great series and one that definitely makes you think.