The first book, The Hunger Games, had me gripped. It might be marketed as young adult, but its content is certainly not just for teens. The world is violent and uncertain, where teenagers from each district must kill each other or be killed on live television. If you don't want to get invested in the whole trilogy, I think this works as a standalone novel and is definitely the high point.
Catching Fire seems to take a long time to get going. There's plenty of time to plant the seeds of rebellion in the readers' minds but then it all seems a bit rushed near the end when the real action takes place. However, the end is a cliff-hanger so make sure you have the final book ready to read back-to-back!
It would have been easy to make Mockingjay a repeat of either of the first two books but it does change direction. It feels much more like a war story however the plot seems to go on and on, like she can't quite work out what she wanted to include so she put everything in. I enjoyed the world and was attached to the characters enough to keep going but I felt it could have done with a good prune at the editing stage.
Still, I shed a few tears at the end and I did read all three books within 24 hours so those have to be signs of an enjoyable trilogy overall!
My edition of The Hunger Games had an author interview at the back. When asked what gave her the idea for the trilogy I was expecting a mention of The Running Man or other such sci-fi classics. Suzanne Collins does make it sound like it was an entirely original idea and that irks me. She's old enough to know about other works that are similar, it's great to be inspired but really you should mention your influences.
Many of you have been discussing the forthcoming film adaptation. Whilst I think the content does lend itself to the big screen, I feel like the studios are going to want to aim it at a younger audience and some of the horror is likely to be glossed over or completely removed. There are a lot of scenes that would give it an 18 rating if they stayed put. Also there's a lot going on inside Katniss's head that would be difficult to get across in a film, unless there's going to be a lot of use of a voice-over.
The Hunger Game 5/5
Catching Fire 4/5