Part I - Read
Part II and III - Read if you have the time (and are curious)
Before I actually got around to reading the series, the book was recommended by three avid readers (coincidentally all of them had read the same physical copy I think). All of them gushed about Part I and I was immediately keen to get started.
The series actually falls in the category of Young Adult Sci-Fi. However, I have enjoyed Young Adult sci-fi in the past (read the Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman for a good yarn on astrophysics, cosmos and God) and I must say they can throw some good surprises at times.
The first part (titled Hunger Games) begins with an introduction to a reality show called the Hunger Games, set sometime in the future when North America is a country called Panem and is no longer a democracy. Panem is run by the rulers based in Capitol. The Districts, all of them slaves to the Capitol and living in a state of poverty and desperation, are forced to participate in the games. The actual games involve two representatives from each District killing each other in an ‘arena’ till only the victor survives. If this is not bad enough, it turns out that the representatives are children. The protagonist, 16 year old Katniss Everdeen finds herself as a competitor and the book deals with the game and its results.
The concept developed in this part was engrossing enough to keep me going to the next part.
The second part (titled Catching Fire) extends the story further. Another set of the Hunger Games is played, with the rules designed to be a reprisal for the acts of the previous games. By now, having digested the concept, the writing’s merits began to show and I can’t say I would have given a full score on that count.
The final part (titled Mockingjay) happens in a larger political set up, an outcome of both the previous games. As with any concluding book in a series, the pace is fast and you are curious to know what happens in the end.
Young Adult fiction usually involves walking a fine line. Especially when the story is rather gruesome and carries interesting messages on power play, manipulation, survival. The audience is old and intelligent enough to grasp the basics of these concepts but the stories cannot be too psychologically disturbing or challenging (though this one did border on the former). The Hunger Games series manages to walk the fine line. Which means it is not fleshed out the way a book for adults would have been but the basic concept is interesting enough for an adult audience.
Atleast it showed in the way D kept hovering over me to check if I had finished the last book when I managed to borrow it from a friend last weekend.