The Hunger Games – On Creating an Independent Novel Within a Series

September 19, 2012

Let me first say that I didn’t plan this. On the night before a vacation, I needed a beach book so I grabbed what I thought was the second book in the Hunger Game series. It wasn’t until I’d checked into our condo and pulled out Mockingjay, that I’d realized my mistake, but with no other reading material, I was stuck. So I ended up reading the first, the last, and finally the second book in that order in the Hunger Games series.

So did reading the trilogy out of order matter? I have to say that the gap between the end of the first novel and the last was jarring at first, but after the first chapter I was once again sucked into Katniss’ plight. What was less easy to follow was the emergence of characters that were well-developed in book two (Catching Fire). Ultimately, the gist of the story was not compromised.

Did I need to read Catching Fire to experience the full story?  Nope.  Was I compelled to fill in the gaps?  Nope.  Did I enjoy reading the book even though I knew how the story ended?  Yes. Katniss is a compelling and likeable character.  The unique setting, the high stakes, and her relationship with Peeta are all intriguing.   I had heard numerous complaints about the ending of the second book and I would agree that it does not leave the reader satisfied, but having already read the final book the lackluster ending to  Catching Fire didn’t bother me as much as it might otherwise have.

I’ve heard it said that the storyline in novels in a series should be independent of the other books.  To that end, I believe Suzanne Collins succeeded.