All 4 Hunger Games books ranked worst to best

There are four Hunger Games books including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Here's my ranking of the books from worst to best.
Jennifer Lawrence (“Katniss Everdeen”) stars in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2.. Photo Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate
Jennifer Lawrence (“Katniss Everdeen”) stars in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2.. Photo Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate /

You should read The Hunger Games books in order, starting with the original trilogy and then following on with the prequel book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to delve deeper into the world. However, how do the four books rank when it comes to storytelling, character development, and world-building?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins brought us into a dystopian world and introduced us to Katniss Everdeen, a main character for readers to look up to. Katniss isn't a perfect female hero, and that’s what makes her so great. My complaints about the books aren’t anything to do with the way Katniss was written.

Does she get annoying? Sure! But she’s a teenage girl in a dystopian future where she's had to struggle every day of her life. Other characters are also annoying, but we only get the story from Katniss' point of view, which makes it harder to really get to know them.

I based my rankings on the world-building, the way the action plays out, the character development, and the drama. This doesn’t mean I don’t like any of the books, but this is the order that I prefer them in.

Jennifer Lawrence (“Katniss Everdeen”) stars in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2.. Photo Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate /


If I had to rank the movies, I would say that the ending to the story is the best part. However, when it comes to the books, it's the worst.

A lot of this final book in the original trilogy was drawn out. The depictions of war and battle are excellent, but there's a lot of downtime, even when our characters are behind enemy lines. This is strange for a book where the action is supposed to be constant and the tension tight.

The thing that really knocks this book down to the bottom is the ending. I didn't like how how we see everything play out, with the bombs dropping and Katniss seeing what happens to her little sister from a distance. Limiting the story to Katniss' POV limits what we can see, and we’re told more than we’re shown. At least with the movie, we could see it all play out and feel the tension build.

The story was just a little too anticlimactic for me.

The Hunger Games

The first book is great for world-building. I like getting to know about the different districts and the basics of the Hunger Games, the yearly competition where members of the lower classes are pit to the death against one another as part of a scheme to keep them pacified. There are times that I would like to know more, but I get that there wasn’t room to fit it all in.

There's a lot of time spent in the buildup to the actual games. This is necessary, but there are times that the storytelling can get a little boring. I was ready to jump into the action.

On top of that, I felt like I wanted to know Katniss' childhood neighbor Peeta Mellark more. Why did he team up with the other districts to protect Katniss? Why did he want her to survive? We got to know a little, but not enough, another consequence of telling the story exclusively from Katniss' POV.

It took me a while to appreciate Katniss’ personality as well. I had to keep reminding myself that she was a teenage girl, which took me out of the story the first time I read it.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Photo Credit: Murray Close /

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The prequel novel is one of my favorites in the whole series. This books allows us to get to know Coriolanus Snow, the tyrannical president of Panem in the original trilogy, as a young man. We only see him as described by Katniss in the first three books. What did this man go through to become who he was? It’s clear that he went through something traumatic.

We also got more world-building and lore. It satisfied my cravings for details about what led to the world as we know it during Katniss' time. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set just 10 years after the Hunger Games began, so we're at an early stage.

When it comes to rereading the books, this is the one that I always start with—not because it’s a prequel, but because I love the details in the storytelling.

Catching Fire

It’s all about the middle book in the main trilogy. This was, by far, my favorite Hunger Games book.

While the book does get off to a bit of a slower start, I adore learning more about other districts and getting to know the different Victors of previous Hunger Games competitions. I love watching as they figure out who they can trust, and we get a sense of the hatred they have for the entire system. Some of them are angry that Katniss' actions in the first book led to this, but others just know that it isn’t only Katniss that forced the Games to change.

Finnick, one of the past Victors, is my favorite character of the entire series, and I love his introduction in this book. I knew from the start that he was hiding something behind his cockiness, and I adore getting that introduction again each time. There are small details in the writing that you only notice on a subsequent read.

This book also has a great balance of action, tension, drama, and emotion. We got that sense that Katniss is a terrible action, but she is emotionally connected to people. There was that sense of people being involved in something bigger, and things happening on the outside that we knew would come up again later. This was the book that made me delve straight into the third book without a break.

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