Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games #2 // 391 pp. // YA Dystopian // Scholastic Press // Sept. 2009

GOODREADS SUMMARY: Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in the phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy.Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

After feeling less than amazed by the first book, I was reluctant to continue with the series, but decided to continue on and give Catching Fire a chance anyway. In book two of the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss and Peeta have returned home after winning the Hunger Games and being the first duo to ever survive. As a Hunger Game winner, Katniss is moved into a new home in Victors’ Village and given enough food and money to last a lifetime. However, her nightmares aren’t over just yet. Because of her defiance — causing the Capitol to choose both her and Peeta as winners — she must now face the repercussions. Katniss expects death or torture, but what she gets is far worse: being sent to the Games again! This time around, fighting to survive is even more difficult, as Katniss has to go against past winners (young and old alike), and there’s no way she and Peeta will be able to both survive together again. Things are changing, though, and the spark of revolution is slowly kindling, on the verge of a full-blown firestorm. Will she be able to beat death — and the Capitol — a second time?

Catching Fire hooked me a lot more than The Hunger Games. Perhaps it’s because the initial explanations are out of the way or because we get to see more character development in Katniss, Peeta and the other characters — regardless of the reason, I found myself enjoying this book a lot more than the first. The twist of having to return to the Games, while predictable to others, totally threw me for a loop (in a good way) and I was curious as to how it would be portrayed without seeming like a repeat of the first Games. Katniss’ character is tragically complex, and I admired her inner struggle between doing what she thought was right and doing what she had to to survive. Peeta, of course, is still a do-good boy-next-door, whose steadfast loyalty and love for Katniss is at times down right heartbreaking.

Overall, I was glad I decided to continue with the series and give book two a chance. I was not at all disappointed, and the cliffhanger ending was definitely one that made me rush to get book 3 immediately.

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games #3 // 390 pp. // YA Dystopian // Scholastic Press // Aug. 2010

GOODREADS SUMMARY: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Wow, this book took me on one heck of a ride! Mockingjay was without a doubt my favorite book in the Hunger Games series. It was the perfect fusion of action and emotion, a culmination of what happens when poorly treated citizens reach their breaking point.

In the final book, Katniss agrees to become the “Mockingjay,” the spokesperson for District rebels who plan on overthrowing President Snow and the Captiol. This time around, we get an even more thorough glimpse at character personalities and motives, as everyone plays a key role — from Gale and Finnick, to Prim and Peeta. All thirteen — yes, I said thirteen — districts come together to fight as one in order to win the war.

Though Katniss reluctantly agrees to serve as the Mockingjay, she is still last to realize just how much of an effect she has on people, something I found a bit hard to swallow, given her self-absorbed behavior. At first I was frustrated by her arrogance and flagrant disregard of authority and couldn’t get over how incredibly self-absorbed she acted at times. But then I realized that that’s a fairly accurate depiction of what most 16 year olds are like — regardless of if you’re middle of war — and cut her some slack because, while flawed, her reactions are realistic. The best kind of heroine is an imperfect one — and Katniss was most definitely imperfect.

The twists were even better than those in the previous books and did an excellent job at keeping me on the edge of my seat, chomping at the bit to find out what will happen next. Initially I found the descriptions of the Captiol and the war scenes too hard and jumbled to follow, but that’s probably because I was so enraptured in the story that I was reading faster than my brain could visualize the setting and paint a picture of what was going on.

Mockingjay is a lot deeper than I expected (especially from a YA). The raw, gritty portrayal of war is brazen and doesn’t shy away from what I’m sure is an accurate depiction. I can honestly say that I choked up more than once over the inevitable deaths that are a consequence of war. In the end, this book moved me, got under my skin, and had me reflecting on both dystopian life and the effects of war.

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games #1 // 374 pp. // YA Dystopian // Scholastic Press // Oct. 2008

SUMMARY: Written in first-person POV, the book tells the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take her little sister’s spot in the “Hunger Games,” an annual competition which teens from each of the 12 districts compete to the death against each other. Also headed to the Games is Peeta Mellark, Katniss’ male tribute counterpart. Going in, Katniss’ only goal is to survive, but her simple plan becomes complicated when Peeta declares his love for her on national television and her mentor suggests Katniss and Peeta pretend they’re in love as a strategy to win. Katniss isn’t sure she can trust Peeta, but has no choice if she wants to survive — guilt-free, at least. The only thing is, only one person can win the Hunger Games, which means that in the end, if it comes down to just her and Peeta, one of them will have to die…

After no longer being able to ignore all the hoopla surrounding this book, I decided it was high time I read it to see for myself what all the hype was about. Plus, with the movie coming out, I wanted to be able to read the book without any film influence after it was released. To be honest, I was skeptical about even reading the series because from what I’d heard, it seemed like a rip from the Japanese book/film Battle Royale. But, hey, peer pressure got the best of me and I decided to give The Hunger Games a shot anyway, despite my reservations. Upon reading The Hunger Games, I realized that the main difference between it and Battle Royale is that while Battle Royale focuses on the physical violence of vetting teens against each other, Hunger Games gives prominence to character development — mostly that of main character Katniss Everdeen.

Technically there was nothing wrong with the book; it was interesting, hooked me right away, and had its fair share of tear-jerking scenes interspersed with creative descriptions of the strange apocalyptic world of the future (i.e. the “fashion” of the Capitol and the unique evolved wildlife). However, it just didn’t quite make me squeal with fangirl glee like I thought it would. I’m not sure if it’s because it was too hyped-up, or what, but after I finished the story I just felt… meh. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t DISLIKE the story — in fact, I can see why other people are so smitten with the book and I would definitely recommend it to others — but it didn’t leave me hanging on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what happens RIGHT THIS INSTANT. Despite my blasé attitude, I told myself I’d read the rest of the series to finish it out as well as give myself time to get more into it.