The Hunger Games #3

This book has taken me a long time to complete, but, as promised, this post has made it in July! This is the second time I’ve read this series, for those of you who don’t know, and you can find my posts on the first two books here and here.

Through the first third of the book, I hated it. The whole thing seemed strange, irrational, convenient…I didn’t mind that District 13 existed, and I actually loved the ending of two, but it all just seemed so…strange. Like too much had been left to explain too quickly. I also felt like it was trying to be a little bit too much like The Hunger Games – why would they think Katniss had to be all dressed up and whatever, isn’t that part of the grotesqueness of the Games? Wouldn’t that be counter-productive to what they were trying to accomplish. I think it’s stupid that went on for so long. It was like they just stumbled into a straight up military base ready for attack. That’s convenient. It’s also convenient that though they are so small of a forgotten district that they are somehow in control of orchestrating the entire rebel movement in ALL districts. I didn’t like it much, basically. Until…

When Katniss first got out to one of the districts. Sure, it was a stupid reason for going – for a glorified photo shoot – but it turned into something much more. Something worth fighting for. Before that point Katniss was not a part of the fighting, not really a part of the war further than a symbol. That is where she finds her motivation for her country – where it becomes more than just a personal vendetta against President Snow himself.

What happens to Peeta is terrible. It’s terrible. But it’s war. I also don’t like how Katniss goes back to Gale and Collins is always writing about ‘kisses’. All throughout these books it’s all about ‘kisses’, that’s as personal as it gets. Well ‘kisses’ sounds like something sweet ten year olds would do. These kids are old enough to be more than a peck on the cheek anyway, but further matured by what they’ve all been through. This is one thing that made me roll my eyes consistently throughout the last quarter of the first book. At least describe the kiss. ‘His lips found mine’ ‘The warmth of his lips against mine finally made me feel safe’ or something! I’m not saying turn it into an erotic novel or that they should even get on with ‘it’…but just saying ‘kisses kisses kisses’ makes everything seem much more kiddy – which this series could definitely do without.

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Overall, I was satisfied with this book. When I started it, I changed my Goodreads rating from a 4 to a 3. But when I finished, I switched it back again. Although the beginning of the book was clumsy and jam packed with things that could have been explained better, the book manifests in another great action adventure that comes to a satisfying conclusion. I still think the ‘production’ that 13 is always trying to put on is silly, but overall, it did work.

For the series as a whole, judging by what it is: A young adult futuristic dystopia trilogy, this series impresses me, and will hopefully be around for years and years and years. Anything that gets kid’s minds thinking about real world problems – seeing what there is in the world and what may become (because even though this is fake, it really isn’t that far-fetched considering history throughout the world and other fiction like 1984) – it’s a good thing.

Keep reading young ones, and keep your minds open.

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The Hunger Games #2

The first time I read Catching Fire, I was still on a reading high from The Hunger Games – I downloaded it on my nook about 2 seconds after I finished the first book, and dove right in. That is probably why, on reflection, I didn’t remember much if book two before rereading. All I could pull out of my memory was a vague idea of the ending, and that was it. Now that its renewed in my mind, I find I actually like it better than the first book. It’s true, the second book could never exist in its own space without book one…there isn’t enough back story to support it, but the ‘live action’ was much more interesting for the reader, lots of moving parts.

Again, this book wasn’t written perfectly to my taste – too much tween drama/romance, which only intensifies (completely needlessly) throughout the series, which is a huge deterrent for me, and generally, my age group and beyond (then again, 50 Shades of Grey did outsell Harry Potter, and although I’ve not read it personally….I think we all know it wasn’t a masterpiece of literature by any means). I think that of the entire story, Katniss’ silly back and forth between boys was by far the most unrealistic and absurd.

What I did enjoy about this book was the ‘behind-the-scenes’ activity. Because we see the story through Katniss’ eyes, we are only given small hints throughout the novel of the ‘bigger picture’, many of which Katniss takes the wrong way, misleading many readers – for a greater payoff in the end. This book is also the start of the greater plot, the rising action – book one was the intro, where there are hints at the unrest, but book two maps the scale of the issues and the major conflict of the series.

Catching Fire begins exactly where The Hunger Games left off: Katniss and Peeta are getting settled to their new homes in the Victor’s Village, now next door neighbors to Haymitch, the only other living victor from 12. They then have to prepare for the tour of the country every victor makes after winning the hunger games, and Katniss is realizing exactly how much trouble she has really created by outsmarting the Gamemaker in the last book.

I won’t go into any more plot details and leave your head exploding with spoilers – but if you read number one, keep going!

I started book three awhile back and put it down for a few weeks – be expecting that review next month!

The Hunger Games #1 – Suzanne Collins – A Reading Journal

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about The Hunger Games on this blog. Granted it was two years ago and the post is gone now, but I’m re-reading the series, and I’ve been noticing a lot more details now on my second read through that I think warrant a new review regardless.

To ease any confusion, I am posting only about the first book in the trilogy here, which shares the same title as the whole series.

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It’s a good book, basically, and I think its worth a read, no matter your age or reading snobbish-ness (of which I admit I have some level of myself). Yes, its a young adult series, but the themes are universal. On this second read through, I noticed a lot of details and writing tendencies that really got to me in an annoying, cliché way. It’s amazing what slips your notice when your interest is peaked. Once you know the story though, it seems like your mind snags on each of the flaws in the writing and the plot.

First, the good…
The concept of this book is incredible. It scopes so many human and governmental truths that shine out as bright and as un-ignorable as Orwell’s classic dystopia, 1984. It’s almost as if the foundation of the story The Hunger Games is more powerful than what actually occurs in the first book. Corrupted government relying on what I would practically call slavery from the districts, and maintains power through fear and zero tolerance. The set-up is meticulous – the flaws of this story are in the [young] characters.

For the record, my favorite character in the series (and movie) is Haymitch. Here is a guy who sees reality for what it is, can’t handle the atrocity of it, yet is responsible for orchestrating the success of all the major moving parts. He’s real. He’s funny. He’s tragic.

The Bad
Its been about a month since I finished this book for the second time, and what is sticking out in my mind is how much better it could have been. The writing itself seemed overly simple – of course this is for the younger readers, but I feel so much more could have been done if it hadn’t been.

I absolutely hated the ‘fake’ romance between Peeta and Katniss. It was very frustrating ‘seeing though Katniss’ eyes’ for much of the book. I actually don’t think she’s that likeable of a character. She’s whiney, annoying, and stubborn to the point of fury. It’s like she is incredibly conscious of exactly half if what goes on, and through the writing, us as readers catch on to the rest. How can she be so conscious, and yet so unaware of everything at the same time? It’s like a split characteristic, and something I find very often in these ‘cult’ media fascinations (Twilight included, Harry Potter not) – everything seems very annoyingly convenient. It’s enough to give it a bad recommendation, publishers/editors-take note.

The Ugly
After watching some of the special features on the DVD (I love special features! The DVD was a fantastic invention!!), and the interviews done with the publisher, I realized this wasn’t a book born organically, not really. It was born out of the publisher’s knowledge of what kids were reading now-a-days, and tailored exactly to them. Of course, the series was a smash-hit, so I guess they proved very right in this instance, but the idea of it just really irks me. On the one hand, it might churn up some inspiration for the writers and get their ideas moving, but once that happens, it seems they’re very limited from there – like the story couldn’t take them wherever it wanted, it had to stay in specific guidelines, provided by the publishing house. Not that it showed up in this story…I’m just saying.

So if by now you still haven’t read The Hunger Games, I dare you to do it. What could you possibly lose? A few bucks and one day of reading time? It’s worth that much, at least.