Marry, Date or Dump: Peeta, Gale, & Finnick

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I literally am in disbelief that I haven’t done this match up yet. In light of part one of Mockingjay coming out last week I thought that it was definitely time to see who you would all marry, date, and dump. I’m a Peeta girl through and through … but I also really fell in love with Finnick during this book. I’m excited to see which characters you like the most! Let me know your picks in the comments.  Continue reading

Marry, Date or Dump: Catching Fire

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Hello Hunger Games fans! Are there any other types of people on the Internet right now? I’m going to keep this short since I’m still trying to get my daily word count in for NaNoWriMo, but you know what to do. Choose who you would marry, who you would date, and who you would dump out of Finnick, Gale, and Peeta (pictured above) and let me know in the comments. My heart (and frankly the rest of my body) will always belong to Peeta, but I’m excited to see who you choose. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Related: My Review of the Catching Fire Film (no spoilers!)

Mockingjay: A Review with Spoilers

Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne CollinsHunger Games trilogy, in my experience is the most controversial in the series.  People that I’ve talked to feel no indifference, they love it or hate it. I loved it. I’m embarrassed to actually say this, but reading the book felt very deep to me.  And although I usually try to keep spoilers out of these reviews, I didn’t know how to analyze the book with out giving some of the major plot points away.

The political commentary that is hinted at in Hunger Games, and brought to light in Catching Fire is on steroids in this book. As Katniss learns to take her place in the rebel District 13, the reader learns that just because the Capitol is bad doesn’t mean that the rebels are good.

In a series where control is a looming theme, District 13 with their stringent rules, tattooed schedules, and strict regulation of food intake is almost more controlling than the capital. The role of celebrity culture and propaganda comes center stage, as Katniss reluctantly embraces her place as the face of the rebellion. There is also a strong theme of ends justifying means. In district 2 should they eliminate the population hiding in the mountain? Does the victory against the capital justify the purposeful loss of Prim?

What is strange, and I think effective, about the books is that while these serious themes are on steroids so are the traditional YA elements. The love triangle is more present in this book than the other two. Katniss is shown as more selfish than ever. Leading to the next question, does what she’s been through justify her selfish behavior.

I read in the NYT review that the book, like the capital, uses the things we are attached to against us. This seemed pretty spot on for me. Peeta remained by largest connection to the book. Although his torture and its aftereffects broke my heart, it made their love story more interesting, equal, and further invested me in it. “Real or not real?” was definitely my favorite narrative device used.

The end of the book left me with a lot of questions. Namely, why did Katniss and Haymitch vote yes at the end and did Katniss plan to assassinate Coin? I also felt like the epilogue could have been a little longer. After 3 books of nonstop tragedy, a few more pages of happy were definitely in order.

For further reading and reviews:

Catching Fire: A Sequel with Less Sizzle

A lot of people I’ve met and a lot of opinions I’ve read on the Internet state that both sequels to The Hunger Games are complete misses and not worth reading. I do not agree with these statements, but I do think both books lack the brilliance of their predecessor. I also don’t know anyone, and can’t even bring myself to imagine someone, with the willpower to get to the end of The Hunger Games and not keep reading.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. Many people rate this as their favorite in the series. However, the fact that I liked the book had more to do with the continued connection I felt with the characters.  The character development carried on throughout the book. I learned more, and therefore cared more, about most of the characters. My favorite parts of the book (don’t worry, no spoilers) are learning about Haymitch’s Hunger Games, the newly introduced past victors, especially Finnick, and Peeta.

Even more than in the first book, Peeta begins to represent everything good. Peace. Love. Compassion. The Arts. Maybe that is simplistic of me, but he seems at most junctures to stand of for what is right and what is good. Of all the characters, he seems very sure of himself. I know there are people out there that like Gale more, but if I found someone that meant I didn’t have nightmares anymore I would marry them on the spot.

The heightened political aspects of the book also stand out as a strong point in the sequel. You will learn more about the Capital and the other districts. Katniss and Peeta, as victors, take on a new role in the political landscape of Panem.

Katniss is, perhaps, my biggest disappointment in the novel.  While she is a very active person in the Hunger Games, in Catching Fire everything seems to happen to her. She makes few decisions, and mostly goes with the flow. And flow isn’t going anywhere good.

The Prim storyline also seems to disappear. Her relationship with her sister is overshadowed with the love triangle, in a way that rings untrue to me. I think I wrote in my last review that Katniss has a need to be needed. But no need except an economic need is established between the sisters. Once she has money and Prim has enough to eat the need evaporates. As a sister, I don’t’ believe there is no emotional need exists between them. This makes me question the entire arc of the first book and the series.

The question that sticks in my mind is whether these aspects of the book are intentional or not. As a reader it doesn’t really matter to me, but as a writer I am curious. I can’t help wondering if Collins didn’t know how to follow-up her hit novel or if she is making a comment on the reality of being a hero. I probably will never find out.

For further reading and reviews:

The Hunger Games: A Book of Our Times

After so much hype surrounding the books and the movie, it’s hard to find something to say about The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, that hasn’t been said before.  The book seems like it is everywhere, from the highly successful movie to the nail polish series by China Glaze. I will say, that I don’t believe the hype is unfounded. Collins had a brilliant and innovative idea, which she followed through with strong character development and very tight writing.

The novel has come in my mind to define dystopia. I don’t want to ruin the plot, but here is the teaser from Amazon:

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.  

I know it sounds strange and gruesome, in a way that I probably wouldn’t have touched it while in high school, but it is one of the most compelling books I’ve ever read. It almost makes you keep reading.  Even on this second reading of the book, where I knew what was going to happen there was suspense that led me to finish the book in one sitting.

Stars of The Hunger Games film sign copies of the book.

What strikes me in the aftermath of rereading Hunger Games, is its status as a book of our times. Perhaps more than any other book I’ve read, certainly in the science fiction or fantasy genre, it is a book that I believe could only have been written and gained such prolific popularity now, in this specific point in history and culture. The idea of reality TV is essential to the plot, and the powerful theme of exploitation, in the book, however the connection to the present day goes beyond this.

The book emphasizes a social critique of a social structure where the few experience gluttony of excess wealth at the expense of the majority of people. Although Collins invented this world before the occupy movement and the term “one percent” entered our consciousness the concept and reality of unequal wealth distribution was prevalent. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Panem is a future version of the United States.

I think where this book really succeeds is that it does everything a good book should do. It has romance and action, strong themes and symbolism, relatable and fantasy, and most of all tension and suspense. Even as I’m writing this I keep thinking of more: politics, humor, fashion! I think that the best thing about series like Hunger Games is that it is making reading viral, with both adults and children that wouldn’t pick up a book otherwise. I have yet to meet someone who could put this book down once they started it, especially once they get to the actual games. And I’ve actually yet to meet someone who took the time to read it and didn’t like it. I really couldn’t recommend it more strongly.

For further reading and reviews: