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Showing posts with label Hunger Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hunger Games. Show all posts

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Catching Fire...Review

About the book:
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before...and surprising readers at every turn.

You just knew that the story wasn't over when Katniss and Peeta returned home to District 12 after winning the Hunger Games.

Settled into their new homes in the Victors Village, Katniss and Peeta hope for normalcy.  But, a surprise visit from President Snow shows Katniss that her life will never resemble any sense of normal and that her oppressive government is even more all controlling and placing all the blame of district unrest on her young shoulders.  She and Peeta must continue to present a united, loving front as they make their Victory Tour through the districts and prevent any show of uprising or rebellion.

Katniss' confusion over Gale and Peeta is still troubling her.  Peeta is hurt over Katniss' deception and the fact that she only pretended to love him in order to win the games.  Gale tells her how he feels, which only serves to confuse her even more.  She loves him and he's her best friend.  But, she also loves and needs Peeta and his strength.  It almost sounds like shades of Twilight here, but these are such better, stronger characters and Katniss is strong enough to rise to the occasion and embrace her destiny, especially when she and Peeta see signs of rebellion while on their Victory Tour. Seeing the differences between the Capitol and the rest of the districts in their oppression is enlightening for Katniss and Peeta.

The new Hunger Games are announced and because it's an anniversary year, the terms are different:  this year, the tributes are pulled from the existing victors.  In the case of District 12, that means Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch.  When Haymitch's name is called, Peeta volunteers and he and Katniss are again headed to the arena where they find new allies and gain new understanding.

While Suzanne Collin's imagery is still vivid and colorful, this set of Hunger Games was harder for me to picture in my mind so I can't wait to see how it's portrayed on screen.  President Snow's role is also much stronger and we see his ability to use power to manipulate with minimal verbal communication.  The man is truly terrifying.  And, watching as Katniss begins to further understand the ramifications of her actions and the possibilities of district rebellion is terrific.

Catching Fire has a lot of twists and turns and surprises and a lot more intensity.  New characters are introduced as there are 22 other tributes in these new games and I loved Finnick. The questions of who to trust and who to keep as allies are important as Peeta and Katniss are committed at all costs to keep the other alive. Their tender moments together are some of my favorites.  And people can say what they want, this isn't a love triangle.  Gale is her best friend and she loves him because of that.  But, Peeta is the one who understands.  Peeta is the one who has been through the struggles of the arena and he understands the PTSD issues.  Peeta is the comfort and he brings balance and stability to Katniss' life.

I liked Catching Fire even more than The Hunger Games and I had no idea it would be such a cliff hanger ending, so I was very, very happy to have Mockingjay in hand to start reading immediately.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.

Read 3/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

**This post has been edited because as I continue to think about this book, my thoughts evolve and develop. This review will probably go through several reiterations before I'm completely happy with it. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games...Review

About the book:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone fighting against you?

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

So I'm super late to the Hunger Games party.  I know that.  Dystopian isn't my thing.  YA isn't really my thing.  First person really isn't my thing and first person tense usually bugs me to no end.  I also tend to avoid trendy novels with rabid fans.  However, the film really intrigued me and The Boy was reading it, so I decided I'd read along.

Wow.  Simply: Wow.  I am shocked as hell at how much I liked this book.  The premise, although disturbing, is fascinating and the exploration of the feelings of the participants and victors was well done.  I'm finding it difficult to put my thoughts into words and I'm sure that this review will undergo some polishing and changing over the next few days as I think and reread.**

I know there are a lot of people who think the idea of kids killing kids is abhorrent and I completely agree.  However, this wasn't a book filled with gratuitous violence and murder.  It was kill or be killed and survive at all costs.  None of these children goes into these games for the sheer pleasure of murder.  They are thrown into these games for the sheer pleasure of a depraved segment of society that lives of the hard work of others and finds obsessive joy in gladiator-style reality entertainment.  Katniss wasn't thrilled with her first kill, nor was she appalled.  She didn't glory in any of it.  She did what she had to do to survive and return to her family.

The idea of an oppressive government and a controlled media isn't always so far off.  Think Iron Curtain and Cold War. Totalitarianism. Think of the varied definitions of communism, maoism and even socialism and the arguments that erupt over those definitions.  There is no society that is immune to it. When I think of the hunger games portrayed here, I think not only of Ancient Rome and the Colosseum or Cold War Russia, I think of our society's obsession with Reality television.  While we don't, yet, have shows that portray teenagers being forced to kill each other, we have our share of embarrassing train wrecks and watching someone else's humiliation and misfortune has become entertainment.  And, yet, we watch.  (Well, I don't, because not only don't have satellite or cable, we don't watch those shows by choice.)

Suzanne Collins' descriptions and imagery and vivid.  I can just picture the contrast of the colorless, depressed districts with the nauseatingly bright, depraved Capitol and these people who can look at these gladiator-type games as sport without caring in the least that these kids are going to die. I can see the Gamemakers who sit up in their own little world and control the actual games.  And, I can feel Katniss' confusion and confliction at liking and needing Peeta and then using him.

These are two 16 year old kids, but they're kids who have been through difficult times and have lived hard lives.  Katniss may not understand the nuances and intricacies of romance and interpersonal relationships, but she understands love and fear. She has strength and gumption and isn't waiting around for someone to save her.  And, Peeta.  I love the character of Peeta.  Katniss took some time to grow on me and I'm still not sure how much I like her, but Peeta resonated with me from the start.  Peeta loves with his whole heart and Katniss is so jaded that she doesn't know who she loves, she just knows that she needs to survive and that she needs Peeta to survive with her.

There are so many levels to interpreting/reading this book.  It's a perfect book to promote so many discussions whether they be about war, about government, about oppression, about relationships.

I'm so glad I don't have to wait for Catching Fire to be released.  It's sitting on my desk at this moment!  The  Boy really liked The Hunger Games and we have had some terrific discussions about it and about history.

*Updated to add that we saw the film and loved it.  I thought it was a terrific adaptation that stayed really true to the book. The casting was fantastic.  Couldn't have been better.

I read my own personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.

Read 3/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

**This post has been edited because as I continue to think about this book, my thoughts evolve and develop. This review will probably go through several reiterations before I'm completely happy with it.