Goodreads Review: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not exactly sure how I feel about this book. It did keep me glued to it for the two or three days it took me to read it, but it’s such a downer… and yet I liked how it didn’t go the cliché route and had Katniss doing typical heroic noble stuff. Hell, she messed up most of the time, and got plenty of people killed for nothing, but that was realistic, if you ask me. She might have been good enough to survive two Hunger Games, but she was no soldier, and too much was being asked of her, especially with all that pressure about being the Mockingjay and thus the target of the Capitol. Her constant psychological breakdowns were to be expected, though most people would have broken down completely way before she did.

I feel like Suzanne Collins just wanted to write an exploration of the human condition (basically, our capacity for cruelty), but for some reason went with a Young Adult series to do this. It will be really interesting how all of this suffering, gory violence, and psychological torture is translated to the big screen; “The Hunger Games” might have seemed to be a bit controversial for a YA movie, but that was nothing compared to this. It’s almost like the Harry Potter series jumping for the semi-lightheartedness of book two to the heavy grimness of book seven in just three books. You better grow up fast.

Speaking of Harry Potter, if “Catching Fire” reminded me of “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire”, “Mockingjay” reminded me of “The Dark Knight Rises”. How? Well, like the Dark Knight trilogy, the beginning was good, the second part was brilliant, and the conclusion was sort of grim, nowhere as good as the second part, but a satisfying conclusion nonetheless, especially the last lines, where Katniss and Peeta use the Real or not Real game one last time.

Yeah, from time to time I’m a sucker for corny endings too.

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Goodreads Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By far my favorite book of the series.

The ending of “The Hunger Games” left it clear that surviving the Games wasn’t the end of the road for Katniss, that now the Capitol’s feathers were ruffled and they had a rebellion to quell before it started. “Catching Fire” devotes the first half to Katniss trying (very unsuccessfully, of course) to cool down the rebellious spirits of the districts after Snow threatened her and her family. Since the book is called “Catching Fire” and not “Cooling Down”, you can pretty much know what happens next… except that, before that “next” thing happens – that’s for the final installment, “Mockingjay” – there’s a second Hunger Games Katniss has to attend to, for failing to cool down anything.

Once it got to that part, this book reminded me a lot, in a good way, of “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire”. In that book, a tournament of champions was set up, one in which Harry had no business to be in, and one which by the end will trigger the war between the wizards and the Death Eaters. Here it’s basically the same, with a Hunger Games that now feature past champions from every district, and one in which by the end will trigger the war between the districts and the Capitol. The set up of the Games themselves is more interesting than in the first book, and Katniss being forced into alliances with victors from other districts adds another interesting twist (since, of course, by the end there can be only one).

This is probably the easiest book in the trilogy to adapt to a movie, and am looking forward to how they do it.

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Goodreads Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll be honest: I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Not that it’s a masterpiece or anything remotely close to that, but it’s really entertaining (except for the first few chapters, which are a bit of a drag). Once it gets going, it does get going, and this is all thanks to Collins’ excellent narrative. It just FLOWS smoothly.

What puzzles me is how closely the movie (which I saw before reading this) resembled the book, and yet it completely lacked that sense of entertainment. I guess since the subject matter is a bit crude for a Young Adult audience – you know, the whole children killing children thing – they went with a very somber mood, effectively killing whatever sense of entertainment you might get out of this. The truth is, it reads very PG-13, and not the R you would think a story like this would be; Katniss, the heroine, never once succumbs to the depravity of the killing, and neither does Peeta, so despite the carnage you never feel any sort of morbidity. If anything, you probably feel the same kind of detached excitement over the whole thing that the people from The Capitol feel, which is a curious thing, considering how it’s Katniss who’s telling the story, Katniss who is the complete moral opposite of the citizens of The Capitol.

The romantic triangle, while forced, actually fits and adds to the tragedy. I have no problem with this, but with how it eventually became the center of attention. I guess that comes with the YA territory, and would have been worked differently had the story been aimed at a more adult audience.

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