After The Twilight Saga madness (and, yes, I fell under Edward's spell quite quickly), and when the media made such a big deal about how this series was going to be even bigger, I had to see what all the hoopla was about. I had high expectations for this story and I can't say it necessarily disappointed me, but while I'm sure it was intended to be a character-driven plot, I found them (the characters) to be a far second to the world-building that went on. In this, Suzanne Collins did a wonderful job of painting the imagery quite vividly with her words. Throughout all three books, I never had difficulty picturing where the story was taking place.
But... I still never fell in love with the characters. The antiwar message came through loud and clear, and was an enjoyable ride, but I felt let down that Katniss never aspired to greatness. For a heroine, she was a disappointment to me. Every accomplishment was more luck than skill, and I saw very little growth in her throughout the series until the very, very end - which was a little rushed, in my opinion, after all the buildup and still painted her as flat and rather emotionless. I realize this is due to the emotional damage she'd suffered and is probably a more apt demeanor for someone who has lived the life she has, but it left so much to be desired. Where was the hope? I didn't necessarily need a happy ending, but I felt nearly depressed after it ended. In one word - The Hunger Games is: Sad!
*Possible Spoiler Alert*
Speaking of the ending... I wish there had been more about what happened to the country in the aftermath. From others, I went into these books believing I was going to be swept up in a love triangle, which, okay, maybe it was... kinda, sorta. But since I never felt a connection to any of the trio (other than feeling a bit sorry for Peeta), and since there was more action than drama, I felt the lack of details, lack of a vivid picture of what happened, was sorely lacking.
*End Possible Spoiler*
Now, I know I compared the two series before, so I will elaborate a bit more. Twilight was all drama. You felt more than the mechanics of the characters - even though I did not overly enjoy all the redundant musings found in the books and skimmed through about 50% of the stories. In contrast, The Hunger Games had a much better plot and was far superior in the writing style, but it lacked passion. It lacked emotion. Well, emotions other than fear, hatred, and violence. It was brutal and dark.
One must take into account that I am truly a lover of Chick Lit. I need light and happy. I definitely enjoyed this foray into the dark side, but I am at a loss as to why these books are so incredibly popular. They're actually quite depressing - especially considering that they're written for a YA audience. Maybe as someone who is several years past "young" I just don't get it. I know many YA books that spread like wildfire are popular because of a certain theme, which, in my estimation is young children doing things that are more "adult": fighting wars, torid romances, grand adventures without parental oversight, etc. So, maybe in this instance I didn't connect because I know the real life consequences of what was occurring.
In the end, I'll watch the movies. I'd recommend the books to a friend as something interesting to read. But when it comes down to it, I wouldn't re-read the series. The Hunger Games is definitely a unique experience, but when it comes to all the hysteria - I'll take a pass. I am not team Gale or team Peeta (whose name makes me hungry for Greek food). I don't suddenly feel the need to visit an archery range. I'm glad I spent the time to read the series so I can speak intelligently when the topic comes up in conversation, because the avalanche has begun and there's no getting out of the way. But as I watch it unfold, all I'm inspired to add to the pile is a careless shrug and a noncommittal, "Meh."
Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. And, "May the odds be ever in your favor." ;-)