Yep, I figured it time I posted my reviews. And what a better time than the day The Hunger Games film officially releases in the UK? I read The Hunger Games a little while back but didn’t head straight into Catching Fire–although it constantly nagged at me to in the back of my mind. Then I found a copy for a bargain price and simply could not resist and the rest is pretty much history. I even had a copy of Mockingjay loaned to me so I wouldn’t have to wait to read on–thanks to Kayleigh of K-Books. So after finishing up with the final instalment just a few days ago, and writing my review whilst still raw from exploded emotion, I’m now ready to share my thoughts with the world.
Here you go:
The New York Times bestselling The Hunger Games, with an all-new cover from the major motion picture! The astonishing bestseller is now a fantastic movie, set to release on March 23rd, 2012!
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
I’d avoided reading this for a couple of reasons. 1) the band wagon already looked pretty full. 2) I didn’t like the cover very much–it looked too thriller-ish at 1st glance–though, now, I get the relevance. 3) The title even sounded thriller-ish.
Anyhoo, I recently won a copy and so ended up with the title in my kindle and thought I’d set about immediately to discover what all the fuss is about.
Am I glad I did?
Yes, I found the opening to be a bit of a struggle–but I’m well known for my perseverance.
Yes, I thought there was a lot to absorb with the way the world was set, and all the different Districts and whatnot.
But like with any decent read, the more you read, the more you understand, and the more you want to read–and soon, I couldn’t put it down.
This turned out to be a cracking read (once I’d come to terms with the present tense narration) and I shall be reading Catching Fire pretty soon.
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.
In 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.
Damn, has this book left me confused and frustrated–both on behalf of poor Katniss.
I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games. However, it doesn’t quite compete with this one for the emotional turmoil inflicted upon the MC. Emotional turmoil the reader can’t help but experience right alongside her. For some reason, I felt a much stronger connection with Katniss in this one. I don’t know if that’s because I’d already had a full novel with her prior to this, or if I simply related more to what she was going through. But whereas Hunger Games was a thrill-fest to ‘watch’, and the anticipation of what would/could happen next and how the fudge they’d get out of it, and what would happen to Peeta because Katniss being MC pretty much dictated that she had to win all had me turning page after page … it didn’t quite instil me with the OMG moments and tears that Catching Fire did.
The first undoing was when the guy from the other district got shot in the head for his support of Katniss. Another–and one of the biggest–was when Katniss stumbled upon poor Gal being whipped. Then her[mini-meltdown–which she was more than entitled to–when she found out she’d be going back into the Games. And let’s not forget that horrid moment when Peeta ceased to be alive. Plus, plenty more–which meant I was up and down and fidgeting in my seat like a had a bad case of worms.
On top of this, the poor girl (and reader) had to deal with her ‘love life’, and her duelling feelings for Peeta and Gale. Whilst her feelings are evidently stronger/the connection stronger for/with Gale, the bond between herself and Peeta is visibly shifting to one that doesn’t only involve winning a crowd over. To me, this would be an impossible decision if she’s ever forced to make it (I’d imagine it’s coming). Because both guys are totally adorable and courageous in their own way, and totally smitten with Katniss. Even in Hunger Games, despite the majority of the airtime being handed over to Peeta, I still kept thinking ‘but what about poor Gale’, because the author had done such a good job of planting him in my mind. Whilst at exactly the same time, I kept urging Katniss to feel something for Peeta. I’m fickle I know. But in Catching Fire, it pretty much happened all over again. Except this time, I rooted for Gale when he got some of her time–then I switched to Peeta whenever Gale wasn’t around. From a spectator’s position, the choice is not easy.
Oh yes, and one mustn’t forget that cliffhanger of an ending. Because anyone who gets this far in the trilogy is, without doubt, now left with no choice but to read on. And I cannot wait.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains – except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.
** spoiler alert **
Okay. I have literally finished this like 15 minutes ago, so whether or not I’m in a position to provide an opinion not doused in tears remains to be seen. But I shall try.
To be honest, if asked for a rating after the first 100-150 pages of this book, I’m not sure I could have happily rated as I have. Yes, I understand there was a lot of non-action activity taking place but I don’t think that was the issue. For some reason the opening of Mockingjay lacked a little of the pizazz that Catching Fire wowed me with, almost as though the book had regressed to the slower opening I’d associate with The Hunger Games.
But then Peeta showed back up. I did wonder for a while if it was his absence that was bothering me about it. After all, he’d been with the reader throughout–as much a rock to their mental stimulation as he was to Katniss. So for him to show up and it not go quite as my mind envisioned it made me sit up and take note at last. So onward I read. And after spending a tonne of chapters intermittently peeved at Gale for decisions/attitudes he showed, I then began to get frustrated with Peeta. Frustrated over his situation, frustrated because this isn’t OUR Peeta–the one we’d all come to love. Frustrated because I couldn’t physically do anything to make him okay–just as the characters in the novel didn’t seem able to. I wanted Peeta back, dammit.
So, the reader is left to deal with their screwed up emotions over Gale, their frustrated emotions over Peeta, and then they have the death of a character to deal with. I’m talking about Finnick. I congratulate the author on getting me to so readily connect with this character. Because, as though I actually knew him, the moment his demise was certain, my immediate thoughts went out to his lovely female they’d rescued especially so they could reunite, and how his death would affect her in her delicate state of mind. But (luckily, I guess) just as Katniss and the remaining gang don’t have time to ruminate over it unless they want to join him, the reader is also nudged along with them and caught up in what comes next.
Unfortunately, with one bad happening leading to another, we’re not given any reprieve a second time. We’re tossed into the separation from Peeta, then the separation from Gale, and just as Katniss is left 100% to fend for herself, she is hit with the cruelist twist of fate she could possibly be pounded with. And just like with Finnick’s death when Katniss’s lack of time to mull is extendedly stolen from the reader, with Prim’s, her lengthened recovery from something so head-screwy means that the reader has no choice but to slow down and absorb the entire shock of it all, too.
So basically, by the time Katniss found her way home, and Peeta found it with her, and they once again found what was there all along with each other, this emotional wreck pretty much blarted like a fool. Damn, my kids even wanted to know what I was so upset about. I didn’t care that I had my suspicions confirmed about District 13′s dodgy president and was left guessing right up until the very end exactly who she had on her team and was checking out and watching everyone’s movements very closely, or that I pre-empted exactly what Katniss would do with that final arrow. None of that matters. What does matter is the authors ability to instil this level of emotional response from me–and that is what well and truly bumped this book back up to its 5 star rating.
So yeah, in case you hadn’t guessed it, I am SO all over going to see the film. Can’t WAIT, in fact. What about you guys? Have you read this? Has it enticed you to the cinema to see what they’ve made it into? What did you think?