Thursday, July 1, 2010

Catching Fire

I finished the sequel to The Hunger Games 33 hours after it came into my possession. I believe that's the fastest I've finished a book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which, by the way, have you seen the trailer??? So excited!!!)

Catching Fire was all I hoped it would be and more. They did definitely keep the love triangle in check - and once Katniss made her choice, she stuck with it, and didn't flounce back and forth depending on who she was with at the time (like some other girls caught in a love triangle seem to do...)

It moved very fast in parts that I didn't expect, but the reason became apparent as I discovered that the parts I was expecting were not the focus of the story. It began with their "victory tour" - a trip through all 12 districts that the champion(s) must make half way through the year. I expected this to be the bulk of the story, but it was over by seventh chapter. The idea of the book is that by attempting to beat the games by planning to commit suicide at the end of the last games instead of killing one another, Katniss and Peeta have inadvertently started a rebellion throughout the districts. The President at first makes Katniss believe that she has to appear to be so in love with Peeta on the tour so as to stop the rebellion (by making people believe that she only attempted suicide out of love, not out of an attempt to rebel against the Capitol). Katniss does her best, but fails, and then later learns that there was really no way she could have stopped the rebellion that had begun - and that President Snow must have had other reasons for prompting her actions.

Katniss lives in fear of the president and the Capitol, believing that she and her family, including Gale, are going to be squashed out of existence any day. Her fears come to reality when the President announces the special Games that are to be held in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the games - the tributes will come from the living past champions, not from the children of each district. As this settles on Katniss, she realizes that, as the only female past champion in her district, she is going back to the Games. The focus of the story, therefore, became Katniss's return to the arena to fight another year in the Hunger Games, with Peeta at her side once again.

I appreciated the reality of these characters and their actions. Katniss is not completely honorable - and even acknowledges that how can someone who won the games be honorable? She is very aware of her flaws, her inability to return Peeta's love and her unworthiness of his love (which is true, she really doesn't deserve him), the gratitude of her choice to love Gale, even though she's not sure she wants to follow through with that because she has no desire to have children of her own to be subjected to the reaping and go to the Games. These characters are consistent and developed, and while secrets abound and you never really know what's going on (because Katniss herself is never fully aware, and she's the one telling the story after all), the story weaves in such a way that there are not really any loose ends, except those that are leading you to the next part in the series.

I have really enjoyed The Hunger Games, and am looking forward to the completion of the story with Mockingjay, which is supposed to be released sometime in late August. That's a bummer, because the fall semester begins at the end of August. I'll have to squeeze in a little pleasure reading before my course load takes over.

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