Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cannonball! Book #5 and Book #6 Complete my Hungry Trilogy!

BOOK #5: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
BOOK #6: Mockingjay BY Suzanne Collins
Now, I know that I stipulated in my rules that I must post the review for one book before starting another; however, I took a 36 hour mini-trip to visit my sister for her birthday and figured I could knock out both books during the bus ride(s). Also, since these are the final two books of the Hunger Games Trilogy, they're closely related, review-wise.
Plus: my Cannonball, my rules.
Catching Fire picks up a few months after the events of the first book, and almost immediately begins to instill a sense of dread within both the reader and our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. The Capitol and President of her nation of Panem have it out for her and it's clear, with every shocking twist and turn of the story, that things (which were far from good in the first book) are going to get a whole hell of a lot worse in the second.
The flaws I found in The Hunger Games have apparently been fixed in this, its following novel: Collins is much more careful in where she places her adjectives--while there are still scenes that have a touch of immature detailing, she's also placed reasoning behind it. Catching Fire is more mature, as Katniss is, after the events of the first book. Also, our characters grow more and more likeable (or despised, depending on their hero/villain state) and three-dimensional. We are allowed to see more layers and begin to understand motivations much more clearly.
I finished reading the second book while sitting next to my sister, who continued to laugh at my exclamations of shock throughout the final chapters of Fire. The last third of the book is truly stunning: alliances and secret plans and violent deaths abound, and I had to (once again) cover all of the page but the section I was reading, so my eyes wouldn't betray me and jump ahead.
With Catching Fire leaving us in an "Empire Strikes Back" level of separation and despair, I had no choice but to go ahead and start Mockingjay, the third and final book of the trilogy. I read all but a few chapters on my four-hour bus ride back to the city, with Honor Him from the "Gladiator" soundtrack repeatedly playing. I'm just saying: whoa.
The dread and doom that appears throughout the second book is put on the back burner at the beginning of third, but that doesn't mean all is well for our protagonist, Katniss. I hesitate to say too much, since the books really are quite fantastic, but I will say this much: Mockingjay is almost cruel in its ability to ease you in to a state of comfort and then blast it all away. Collins manages to introduce us to and graphically destroy characters within a few pages and do it without seeming trite or immature. I haven't cried while reading a book since Book 7 of the Harry Potter series, but Collins got me three times.
I'm actually still processing the ending of her final book: not every loose end is tied up (mayhap allowing other books?), not every action and character is paid their due. Initially, this bothered me, but I feel (upon a second reading) that I could better understand my own feelings regarding Mockingjay. I will say, especially in light of what's been happening in Egypt, the final book (which deals primarily with a revolution) makes one think quite a bit about what people are willing to do and to what they shouldn't ever even give thought. What we sacrifice and what we slaughter.
All these games we play.

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