“The Hunger Games” books ranked


Graphic by Alexander Cha

The “Hunger Games” trilogy includes some of the most prolific young adult fiction novels of the 21st century, widely beloved for its harrowing stories and post-apocalyptic world-building. A decade after Katniss Everdeen’s story concluded with “Mockingjay,” a prequel would be written by author Suzanne Collins, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” While detached from the original trilogy, it is nevertheless a part of the overarching story. Though all the books in the series are great in their own right, it raises the question: which “Hunger Games” book is the best? Here is my ranking of the four novels. 

  1. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”
Cover by Tim O’Brien

I want to preface by saying “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is a great book. The prequel to the original trilogy, this novel takes place 64 years before the events of “The Hunger Games” and features the villainous Coriolanus Snow when he was a teenager as the protagonist. The book does a good job showing that evil isn’t born but made, and that betrayal and misfortune is what brought upon the sinister traits Snow would have in the future. However, due to being the longest in the series at 517 pages, the book can drag at times, and as a prequel, its disconnect from the cohesive storyline of the originals place it at the bottom spot.

  1. “Mockingjay”
Cover by Tim O’Brien

As the explosive finale to the “Hunger Games” trilogy, “Mockingjay” is the darkest and most grim book the series has to offer. Unlike the previous two books in the series, “Mockingjay” does not feature the Hunger Games itself, but rather features a rebellion against the Capitol that forces the cruel annual event. The book delves into dark subject matter, not only featuring more violence than the two previous books combined, but also having Katniss experience the trauma of the two Hunger Games she was forced to partake in. “Mockingjay” is a war novel, and consequently, the most heavy of the books to experience.

2. “The Hunger Games”

Cover by Tim O’Brien

As the one to start the series, “The Hunger Games” single-handedly brought the series into the limelight, and created a worldwide phenomenon. Introducing the readers to Panem and its horrific annual event, the Hunger Games, the book is a powerful tale about the consequences of class systems and fascism. Experiencing the games through the eyes of Katniss allows for the readers to become deeply immersed in the story. “The Hunger Games” is a quickly-paced, powerful story with incredible world building, and there’s a good reason why it began a legendary series.

1. “Catching Fire”

Cover by Tim O’Brien

“Catching Fire” sees Katniss and Peeta thrusted into another annual Hunger Games, this one being the 75th. The 75th games’ gimmick is that the tributes are composed of past victors of the games. “Catching Fire” takes everything from the first book and builds upon it with an even faster pace and interesting new characters such as Finnick, Johanna and Beetee. The book ends with a powerful cliffhanger and sets the stage for the grand finale that “Mockingjay” delivers.