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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Book reviews #10- #11 - The Hunger games trilogy

I already wrote my thoughts about the first instalment of this fantastic trilogy The Hunger games HERE
For the next ones, I read them so quickly one after the other that it requires to review them at the same time!!!




Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic - Sept 2009
ISBN: 978-0-439-02349-8
Print length: 391 pages



Synopsis

Katniss assimilates herself into her new role as a victor of the Hunger Games. Content with the victor’s spoils that can now feed her family and chagrin that she’ll have to participate in a Victory Tour in the 11 defeated Districts of Panem and the Capitol, Katniss is completely unaware of the trouble she sparked with her final actions in the Hunger Games’ arena. Katniss quickly realizes that she has emerged as a symbol of rebellion when she receives a visit from the dastardly President Snow who cunningly threatens her with a fate far worse than death. Katniss acquiesces to President Snow but continues to notice signs of unrest through her style team and among other Districts. Both Katniss and Peeta Mellark quickly realize if they don’t team up and play their cards right, innocent people will die as a result of their actions. A startling twist in the Quarter-Quell 75th Hunger Games takes Katniss’ focus away from the unrest in the Districts and consumes her with a growing intensity to survive long enough to protect Peeta, Gale, and her family from the dictatorship that threatens all of their lives.






Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic - Aug 2010
ISBN:  978-à-439-02351-1
Print length: 455 pages






Synopsis


Katniss has emerged from the 75th (Quarter Quell) Hunger Games as the sole symbol of the Districts’ rebellion against the Capitol: the Mockingjay. Flung into the underground, socialist District 13, Katniss is relieved, appalled, and bitter about the District’s existence. With Gale Hawthorne by her side and Peeta Mellark at the hands of the Capitol, Katniss is forced to weigh the motives and actions of those around her as she navigates her role as Mockingjay. District 13’s President Coin reunites Katniss with former Tributes and an assortment of Rebel leaders scraped together from the surviving Districts with carefully laid plans on how to gain the remaining Districts’ support and infiltrate the Capitol.


Reminder - Spoilers/My Thoughts


In the first instalment, we were left with Katniss and Peeta, both victors from the 74th Hunger games. President Snow from the Capitol had threathened her that she'd better convince everyone that her twisting game with the berries was only driven by her love for Peeta, and was not an act of rebellion against the authorities that could fuel a new uprising.
In Catching fire, life starts again. Both Katniss and Peeta live in new houses, in the victor's village. Their family are rich beyond imagination. Katniss still does her hunting and gives the meat to Gale's family. Gale is now working in the mine. Their relationship is not involving as both would like to although a few lost kisses happen. Peeta and Katniss relationship is at a complete standstill except when they have to act in front of the Capitol people.
As victors of the Hunger games, they have to do a Victor's tour that is taking them through all the districts. A task they are not looking forward to do as that will confront them to the families of dead tributes including Thresh and Rue, from district 8. After a few comments on their part, a small rebellion starts among the gathered crowd which results in a few people being shot by Peacekeepers (Capitol guards).
In their own district, changes are occurring such as a change of Peacekeepers who do apply the law, replacing others who used to take advantage of illegal hunting and trading activities, resulting in Gale being publically battered - stopped by Katniss, Haymitch and Peeta.
It is during one of these hunting trips that Katniss meets with two women in the woods, apparently from district 8, who had escaped and were aiming to reach district 13, not believing that it was destroyed by the Capitol 75 years earlier. They also indicate to Katniss that she has become the face of the rebellion. Their sign being the Mockingjay pin.
Following all these rebellious events throughout the districts, it was time to announce the next Hunger games rules. This year would be the 75th, the third Quarter Quell, so rules would be special as for every Quarter Quell. President Snow himself announced them to a stunned audience. The rules were that instead of the normal reaping choosing any children aged 12-18 years old. The reaping would be among the victors of each district. A rule obviously established by Snow and not as presented being written down 75 years earlier.
It meant that for District 12, only Peeta and Haymitch's names would be in the bag, whereas Katniss would automatically return to the arena, being the only female ever to have won.


Again, the preps, interviews are filled by events but it would be impossible to relate everything as every page is full of new information, new ideas, new names, etc...


What I can summarize is that although the Victors form each district are not happy about returning to the Arena, once they are there, they still do some killing. Which is weird, because even though I've read the first instalment, I was still hoping for the victors to refuse doing anything, I was still shocked!


Realizing that it would be just another killing session and that she might not be as lucky this time, she decided to protect Peeta and sacrifice herself protecting him. Suffice to say, it doesn't turn out like this!
In a desperate act of rebellion and thinking that she was about to die, Katniss breaks the shield of the arena leading to her rescue by the rebels.
It turned out that the Game Maker president had been working as an undercover rebel to free the districts from the Capitol oppression.
This second instalment concludes by Gale explaining that they cannot go back to District 12 because the Capitol has bombed it, killing the majority of its population, and that they are welcomed in underground District 13.


In Mockingjay, the Rebellion is underway. President Coin, chief of District 13, organises troops and manages spied within the Capitol.
Life in D13 is different being underground as everything from their schedule to what they are eating is controlled and specific to each person. However life is restricted, everyone seems happy as it means that no one dies of hunger!
I have to say that trying to remember the story doesn't bring many details like for the 1st 2 instalments. The story is basically how life is for Katniss, and her mother and sister. Her more distant relationship with Gale.
The main part seems to be her acceptance to become the face of the rebellion by embracing her Mockingjay status. At the same time, President Snow, having captured Peeta from the Quarter Quell arena, is trying o break her by sending messages through Peeta, which ultimately lead her to her breaking down.
They therefore decided that in order to save their rebellion face, they had to rescue Peeta.
Unfortunately it turned out that Peeta's mind had been highjacked and that all his memories with Katniss have been modified, making her the face of the enemy and Peeta a killing machine.
When it is time to break the Capitol, having "rescued" all the other districts, Katniss goes on an easy mission with her friends/co-victors to shoot for another propaganda TV spot. When this turned to be deadly, instead of going back to safe D13, Katniss decided to pursue her new mission: killing President Snow. Her fellows, decide to accompany her even though it means likely dead for some of them.


The final battle happens in the square in front of the President Snow mansion. A bit of confusion still resides as to who is responsible for the death of all the children gathered there, as well as the rescuers, including - Oh Shock - Prim, Katniss sister!!!
When Katniss comes back to her senses, war is over, President Coin is in charge, Snow in custody and found guilty.
Katniss, having made a deal earlier that she would be the one killing Snow, appears live on stage to execute him, but instead plant sher arrow into President Coin, on purpose, having realised that oppression was likely to sustain but in other hands, and new faces should be in charge of the new Capitol.


The end of the book is quite bizarre as no explanation is given, we just directly jump to Katniss being acquitted on the grounds of sanity and sent on exile to D12 with Haymitch and Peeta.
She rekindle her relationship with Peeta, get married and has children!


So, very boring end for such a thrilling trilogy. ANother book could have been written of course or just another 100 pages on a new more exciting life for Katniss, This is just one Big Fairy tale ending: They married and lived happily ever after!!!!


I'm still uncertain as to the status of Katniss along the book. On one hand, she represents and does what adult should do, ie look after one another, not kill one another, share with one another etc... She did so by taking care of her family, going hunting, feeding her family but also others, and volunteering for the 74th Hunger games in place of her sister.
But then she does turn into a killing person, mainly to defend herself but also to kill in order to win! Then she completely let down people, and most of all Peeta.
She transforms into a different person into the arena, pretends to love Peeta, kiss him etc... Once out, she goes back to her old life, not able to make a choice between Peeta and Gale, but effectively ignoring both. Ok, she's only 17 and since she does not want to get married, she doesn't see any point in having a relationship let alone address the issue. But again, this is not the point of the book!
Then in the 2nd instalment, she goes through the motions again, not really taking any hero behavior.
It sounds more like she became a hero despite herself. And although her aims have always been to protect her family, she never embraced the fact that she should do more, being the Mockingjay.
She starts doing so in the 3rd instalment but again it's not her doing, it's all about image presented and controlled to and by people.
She only does it sporadically, uncontrollably, not because she's the spontaneous type but she's irresponsible and all her actions end up with the death of people. Maybe for the greater good, as thought by her leaders, but in the end, she rebels even against them. 
Ok, so after writing this, I'd say she's just a teenager acting like a teenager!!! and people watching her on TV, just gave her more importance that she deserved. She admits it herself though.


Now I understand where Suzanne Collins came from when she wrote her book. She says she got the idea of the Hunger Games by watching a stupid reality show and war on the news, and mixing them both. 
It makes then more sense since common practice is too give such importance to people appearing on TV when really they do nothing for the greater good!


My Ratings


****

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