Reviewer's Grade: A
I first heard about The Hunger Games during a book club where we were talking about Twilight (which is a series I loathe, but I know I am in the minority there). I didn't actually read it for quite a while because I just didn't think about it, but then it was chosen for book club so I had to break down and read them. They are totally different than any book I have normally liked - violent, weird, sci-fi, and downright horrifying. Clearly the author has a very active imagination. However, I found myself immersed in the story and the idea that as horrible as it is, there have been societies even in the 20th and 21st Centuries that would use children as a weapon. I think that as violent as it is, it is a must read, to keep fresh in peoples' minds just how evil and wicked society can be.
The three books in this trilogy - The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay - are all quick reads. I just finished the third one, and since it just came out I am not going to reveal any spoilers or endings. I have heard mixed reviews from people about how it ended, but personally, I liked it and agreed with the way it ended as being appropriate for the overall mood of the books. It should have had both an unhappy and happy ending (versus books that totally deviate entirely from their original theme like a certain vampire book I have read). In fact, the happy part isn't until the prologue and depending on who you were rooting for - Peeta or Gale - it may not even be a happy ending for you as a reader. For me, it was happy.
As for the main character, Katniss, I found her to be the perfect mix of strength and weakness, which is often how a 17 year old is. Naive, but courageous. She didn't have a choice but to protect her family, because that is all she has know. At the same time, she was young, inexperienced, and even her best efforts didn't always save those she loved. Even in the end, she has very little control over her own destiny, and makes choices within those parameters.
I know that someday I will re-read these books and have a different experience, because the next time I will read them I will have had different experiences in life that will alter my perception of the books. Perhaps my kids will even be teenagers, like Katniss. I have a feeling I will still love them.