Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Hunger Games - part 4

This is post 4 of 5.  The first three are here, here and here.

I've now read the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.  I liked it.  Just like the first story, this middle part is easy to read, entertaining and gripping.  Plenty of cliffhangers and bombshells dropped in to keep me reading.  It probably helped that I'm on holiday so I had time to read it fairly quickly.

Some things I particularly liked:

  • The power of the capitol is simultaneously portrayed as invincible and vulnerable.  They are able to ship in hundreds of 'peacekeepers' into District 12, but President Snow still feels the need to urge Katniss personally to play along with the love story set up in book one.  This both paints a picture of extreme peril for the heroes and also shines frequent rays of hope into the story.
  • It's good to meet lots of new characters like Johanna, Finnick and Mags, and learn small parts of their stories.  This helps show that even districts 1, 2 and 4, which are suggested to be more powerful than the others, are just as under the yoke of the Capitol as district 12.  It reminds me of a section in The Goblet of Fire which says "It was Voldemort, Harry thought, staring up at the canopy of his bed in the darkness, it all came back to Voldemort....He was the one who had torn these families apart, who had ruined all these lives....".  The scope of what is going on is far bigger than the lives of the few heroes we know most about.
  • I love how Katniss has become a symbol of hope without meaning to or even completely realising it.  It puts her into a perilous position that sets everything up nicely for book three.  It's also quite nice that I've recently watched The Dark Knight Rises which also has a lot to say about symbols.
  • Katniss' flawed character still grips me - her confusion, her inability to lie I said in post two "I love how she finds it hard to make friends, how she often doesn't know what to say, how she doesn’t always get jokes.  Brilliant."

Something I'm still not convinced about is Katniss' feelings for Peeta and Gale.  Maybe it's because Gale has still had very little page time.  Maybe it's because more is to be revealed in book three.  Maybe it's because it isn't written that convincingly.  Maybe it's just because I'm not a girl.  We'll see what happens in Mockingjay.

I think these are the first books I've read having already seen the film.  I've noticed how much my imagination is influenced by the film.  When I read about Katniss and Peeta, I see Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.  I guess this isn't surprising, but I think it's the first time I've experienced it.

One final thing.  I'm really enjoying reading a series that (a) has a female lead, and (b) isn't Twilight.

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