Review: Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

catching-fire-book-cover

Hunger Games #2

SYNOPSIS: Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

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 her 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.

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

GRADE 7.5The book was pretty well written, although I again felt Katniss was sometimes overly selfish. The Peeta-Gale-Katniss love triangle is starting to work on my nerves. Who is she to play them off against one another like that? I understand she is lost and confused, and that the situation sometimes impresses such things on her, but she cannot push them both away then pull them back then throw one another up in each others faces all the time. It is one or the other, sweetheart, and I agree wholeheartedly with Haymitch when he tells her that she will never deserve Peeta. I must say, the book took us through the motions of rebellion, fear, fight and flight emotions, blackmail, and escape very well. The story was solid, and the second part of the book, the arena, happened pretty fast, but not overly so. Finnick Odair is by far my favourite character of the series. He is strong, sweet and out there. I think I need to add something here: I do not dislike Katniss, I just feel that she can be so weak at times,  all the while proclaiming to be so strong and well put together. I get that she is too afraid to lose Gale or Peeta, but what she is doing would realistically drive them both away from her. Again, the conclusion of the book is typical Suzanne Collins, so very fast and in a blur. However, it worked very well this time, solidly putting through the perception and feeling of a haze and rush and reality slipping in and out of focus all the time.

Review: The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

the hunger games book cover

Hunger Games #1

SYNOPSIS: Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I understand the concept of it being a book for young adults, but it was pretty decent. I know there are people that are comparing this to Battle Royale, but I never read that, so for me this was new and on it’s own. I did not like the way the love component was written in, it seemed a bit childish and flaky, but at the same time I need to remember that this was a book aimed at a younger generation. I liked it in a sense, but became very frustrated at other times. I was rooting for Peeta and Gale both at the same time, but you can see that Katniss is confused about them, and thinks purely about herself first, she is rather selfish in that sense. Both are good men, but who does she feel for? The story was refreshing, something new, and the books really were very easy to get into and get hooked on. The only thing I had to get used to was the fact that the book was written in the first person and present tense, which for me is very different from my usual stuff, and every now and then it throws you. I did not suffer from that reading it the second time around, because I knew how the writing  style worked. I must say, you can see that it is a book written by a woman and about a woman, there is a lot of fashion and beauty stuff that goes down that the average man is not overly familiar with, but it is bearable and you can overlook it the moment Katniss enters the arena. Suzanne Collins wrote it well that every now and then the full force of the injustice of murdering children for sport and punishment smacks you squarely, and again I was reminded about how terrible people can be to one another. A pretty decent read, I must admit.

SPOILER: I wish that Katniss would have been honest with Peeta on the train on the way home and told him how she felt, the last few paragraphs on the train that Collins wrote about. I really think that that would have changed the dynamic between them completely, made things more bearable. Again, her selfishness wins out, however, and Peeta is left to flounder about what happened with them in the arena. If he knew where he stood with her, everything would have been so different. 

Distance Book Club, I present to you, The Hunger Games!

Somewhere along the line we would be destined to find decent books again. I have said, time and time again, discovering an impressive book is like coming across a great movie… there are millions of options, but a true gem? Few and far between.

I will admit, I was initially skeptical about reading The Hunger Games, mostly because they were recommended to me by someone who is, a) not a reader, and b) a pubescent teenager. I have learned not to take someone who is not a reader seriously when they recommend books, as this is how you end up with books such as Fifty Shades of Grey and the likes becoming overnight phenomena. It does not take much to impress someone who is not a literary veteran, who has not read tons of books, who has no idea what it is to stick by their authors through thick and thin, even when you know they have churned out some rather ghastly work.

Foolishly, in my mind’s eye, I chalked them up to be silly children’s books. I continued without them (but please, let me point out, I have burned my fingers horribly due to book recommendations from said pubescent teenager). I then got my hands on a few movies to watch, and The Hunger Games was among them. It took me a few nights to get to it, as the other movies were, of course, watched first. I had no high hopes. I had read such mixed reviews that even did not know what to expect. I certainly did not foresee enjoying it so tremendously!

I thought the film was a great rendition of the book as it is no simple feat to bring a first person story to life so successfully. But it was done (maybe because they actually let Suzanne Collins have a hand in the screenplay?), and it was done well. The movie kept me interested, they had a strong cast, they portrayed the book effortlessly, and who can deny that Woody Harrelson was a superb choice for Haymitch Abernathy?

The first thing I did was to go out finally and get my hands on the books. I started reading them immediately. It took me a really long time to get into the story, as I really don’t like anything written in the present tense, and I also do not like reading in the first person unless it is a autobiography, in which case I can appreciate. I soon discovered that this was a book I would have to share with my friend. Distance Book Club, here we come!

My friend and I read and discussed the books in minute and extreme detail. This was definitely something new, something different. I heard a lot of people say that it was so similar to Battle Royale it could have been called plagiarism, but I have as of yet not had the time to see what all the fuss is about. I hope, in future, to get back to you about that.

The books do have gaps in between them, there are flaws, but overall they are duly entertaining if you bear in mind the primary reading group is young adults, who are not so finicky about all the little particulars. It has been a while since I read something new that actually kept me hooked successfully. Thumbs up, Suzanne Collins! You cannot miss the fact that a woman wrote the books, though, that is unavoidable. The attention to fashion detail, makeup and beauty is enough to sometimes drive you clean around the bend, but bear with it. Every time I read about it, I failed to get around the awfully loud voice in my head screaming, “it’s a revolution people, not a fashion parade!”. Maybe the dystopian future will be extremely fashion conscious, even when at war, who knows?

Even with the flaws of the story, a box set has been placed prominently on my Christmas wish list (may the odds be ever in my favour 😉 ). It would be a lovely addition to my burgeoning bookshelf (which reminds me, I am desperately in need of a new one!). Ah, to read, to buy books, there is almost no greater comparable joy!

What are your thoughts on The Hunger Games?