As I’ve mentioned, one of my resolutions is to read, on average, one book a week. As an extension of that, I’ll be writing short reviews of each book I read. So come back each Monday to get my latest opinions on the books I’ve read.

For my first review, I’ll be covering the entire Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.

First up is Hunger Games, and I cannot recommend this book enough. It stars Katniss Everdeen, as she is selected to be a contender in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a brutal blood sport, put on by the Capitol to keep the twelve districts in line. Each district sends one teenage boy and girl to compete in a fight to the death. Twenty-four kids enter. One kid leaves.

However, this isn’t just some mindless bloodbath. In truth, the story is not any more violent than it has to be, and doesn’t linger on gore. We see, from Katniss’s eyes, what this dystopian future is like, from the starving coal-miners of District 12 to the extravagant citizenry of the Capital. Suzanne Collins didn’t just create a bare-bones world to hold the Hunger Games in, but a rich detailed setting that stands on its own.

Katniss is an interesting character. She’s self-reliant and mistrusting, but at the same time she has a low sense of self-worth, putting the needs of her family far over her own. The book is well-written, and while Katniss has plenty to complain about, she never comes across as whiny.

What really got me was how the book handled the romantic aspects. I can’t go into to great a detail without giving too much away, but it’s very unique. In a book like this, it would be easy to end up with a romance that felt trite or tacked on, but Suzanne Collins creates a complicated, believable situation that ties in to the surrounding story.

So pick up Hunger Games, you won’t regret it.

I’m going to group the last two books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, as one, because, like many trilogies, the second act is just builds into the third. It’s difficult to go into detail about the plot without spoiling the first book, but the world and the politics of the first book are greatly expanded.

It’s a little weird to say this, but the last two installments have a darker tone than the first book. Suzanne Collins does not pull her punches, and it’s apparent fairly early on that our heroes won’t emerge from this without losses. While Hunger Games leaves you wondering how Katniss will survive, Catching Fire and Mockingjay change the question to “How much will it cost?”

Admittedly, I didn’t enjoy these quite as much as the first one. They were still great books, mind you, but they weren’t without their flaws. The books keep pushing you from one intense moment to the next, and rarely give you breathing room. The end result is that you can sometimes get a bit exhausted from them.  The pacing is a bit fast at times, as well, although this may be due more to the limited point of view than anything else.

Still, these are relatively small problems in otherwise fantastic books. I highly recommend you pick up the entire trilogy.