What can be done in 24 hours? Almost everything, really, but I need to put this one especially on my list: I read all three Hunger Games books in less than 24 hours.

Ps. If you have no idea of what Hunger Games is about, read my review for the movie adaptation here and my comparison analysis of the trilogy vs Twilight vs Harry Potter here.

It’s not that hard, and I bet all of you can read all three books in less than 12 hours (because if I counted up all the hours that I used to read those books, they would add up to that).

I was curious. Curious of what happens to Katniss. Curious of who will she choose. Curious on who are actually the good people. Who are not.

But you see, The Hunger Games trilogy didn’t leave me with a smile on my lips after I finally finished reading the epilogue of Mockingjay. It didn’t make me happy, or relieved.

Somehow, it made me sad.

In terms of techniques as a writer, Suzanne Collins did a good job. Short sentences. Vivid action sequences. Fast-paced.

Character development? Not as much as I’d like to read. Great emotion portrayal? Of course, why else do I really need the feel to write this down right after I finished reading them?

But I wasn’t happy.

And I definitely didn’t think this was teenagers’ science fiction on the platter.

To address the overall admin stuff, the first book was great, and right after I close the book I was longing for more. It was left unfinished, and I was dying to know what happens next. The second book was a bit boring, and to be honest I did skip most of the uneventful scenes. The first half of the third book definitely unconvinced me to read further, but I was still curious on what would happen. However the last half was not too bad.

So yesterday I finished reading the trilogy. Today, I sat down wondering whether I like them or not, and I’ve still not yet decided. I have replayed and kept on replaying the scenes that have been built in my mind. Katniss and Gale. Katniss and Peeta. Finnick’s death. Gale’s rage. Katniss’ indecisiveness. Peeta’s love. President Snow. President Coin. Katniss. Peeta. The Hunger Games.

I slept last night with these thoughts on my mind, and when I woke up this morning, they were still there.

I haven’t decided.

I haven’t decided whether I like the novels because they haunt me so much, or whether I don’t like them because they do haunt me.

So with the assumption of either you have: a) read the books or b) read the Wikipedia version of them (click through to read The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay), I’ll go on with my post.

[spoiler alert: I would disclose the plot of the books, so if you wouldn’t want to know, you have been warned]

The Hunger Games (rating: 4/5)

Among the three, The Hunger Games is the best. It’s so vivid that I could almost see what’s happening. Of course, I have to say that I regret reading this after watching the movie, because, it really does jeopardise my imagination about what really happened. But I picture Katniss to be thinner. Peeta, well, perfect. Cinna is very different in my mind, so does Rue. I see a sweeter Prim, and a sweeter mother. I picture Caesar as more friendly.

What’s brilliant about this book is that you end up wanting more. You are literally thirsty to know what yet to come. The story’s left unfinished and you are triggered to know, as if you couldn’t live without knowing what will happen next. And that’s writing in the highest form.

“One more time? For the audience?” he says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.

I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go.

an excerpt from the very last paragraph of the book.

Catching Fire (rating: 3.5/5)

The second book, in a sense, is where the business kicks in. The first few chapters are spent trying to portray the politics inside Panem. And yet, the whole book is a climax. It has its climax for so long that I kind of got lost in the middle of it.

Its essential story is telling what’s happened in the next Hunger Games, where the reapings are done from a pool of past victors, which in the same time causes spark of rebellion from the districts.

I found myself wanting to finish the book, wanting to know the end, without really wanting to know the details. Somehow, this rarely happens. Even when I am reading Harry Potter or the Inheritance Cycle, I rarely skip the details, because I know it will ruin the sense of satisfaction of being in the journey along with the characters, and arriving at the finish line together.

Mockingjay (rating: 3.5/5)

The third book is supposed to be the climax of the climax, but I feel like The Hunger Games is done way better as a climax. I believe it has some sorts of anticlimax, but the last half of the book is not too bad – it is still able to maintain the tension.

I kind of disappointed with the plot, because more than half of the book depicts Katniss, who was strong and brave and a little bit innocent in the first book, as a weak, emotional teenager who’s regularly having mental breakdown. Of course, Collins might want to emphasise on what the Capitol, the Games, and Peeta’s abduction had done to Katniss, but her meltdown occurs so often that I was left wondering on what on earth happened to Katniss.

The supposedly ‘happy’ ending, I guess, did little to change my mind of what Katniss was becoming. What Suzanne Collins did was to focus on the damage of the reaping and what the Hunger Games had done to her, because no matter how life goes on, she would be forever haunted by the Games.

But I have read that theme occurring over three books. What I would want to read, on the last paragraphs of the book, is some sort of redemption. Some sort of assurance that she would find happiness once again. Because in my mind, Katniss hasn’t found one. And Peeta is not the solution.

Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.

I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.

But there are much worse games to play.

an excerpt on the very last paragraphs of the book.

Of course, the nightmares that wouldn’t go away might resonate with some people. The people who come back from the war, perhaps. The people who keep on seeing the faces of men they have killed every night, and maybe, the faces never really do go away.

Suzanne Collins made the decision that Katniss and Peeta, and the citizens of Panem would never be able to let go completely of their past. They would haunt them for the rest of their lives. And I think in real life, they may be true.

But for me, over my resentment and sadness, I would make another ending for them.

I would picture Katniss and Peeta, walking on the meadow that day, letting their children run wildly. For a second, Katniss might remember her nightmares.

But I would picture Peeta holding her hand, looking deeply into her eyes, and smile.