Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book Review: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Having just recently finished The Hunger Games, I continued down the young-adult-book spiral and finished off the series by reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

Catching Fire picks up with Katniss and Peeta back at home and in trouble with The Capital. The whole first section of the book consists of them travelling through the other districts, trying to make their love story believable. In the end, the president is not convinced, and in what appears to be retaliation the two of them are put into the next Hunger Games. I won't go into more details in case anyone reading this hasn't seen the movie or read the book yet. Overall, I was not really happy with where the story was going. Katniss, who was fairly level headed and mature beyond her years in the first book, comes across as a whiny teenager in the second. She flat out annoyed me most of the time. Also, the book has them contemplating "kissing" a lot. I guess I can't really complain since it is a book written for teens and pre-teens, but it was pretty childish. I'm not saying I wanted sex scenes, wuite the contrary, but I could have done without the poorly developed love triangle. Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. The decent was only just beginning...

Mockingjay picks up with Panem in full on war. The districts are rebelling and Katniss finds herself in the hands of the rebel forces. After patching her up, they want her to be their "mockingjay" - basically a propaganda-style spokesperson for their cause. Katniss hems and haws about doing the job, succumbing to it in the end. Then there is war. I don't want to divulge too much since I know some people are really invested in this series of films. Suffice it to say that while the first two books at least had a clear point and climax (the actual Hunger Games), this third book is all over the place. The battles are not really well described and I kept finding myself back tracking to figure out how they ended up where they were - the transitions were that sharp. The whiny Katniss of the second book only becomes worse in the third. Seriously, you're not happy with The Capital and hope for an uprising for the 2 first books, then when the uprising happens you can't decide whether you like it or not? Show some stinking conviction and make up your damn mind. There are so many things that happen that in no way were essential to the plot - I mean how many times can the girl get hurt doing something stupid? Quickly after I began the third book I saw way too many correlations with Russian revolutionary history for it to have been a coincidence. The despot-like early government is overthrown by an incredibly strict communism-like government with a corrupt leader? Two large bodies of power threatening nuclear war? Totally Russia, amiright? I also absolutely hated the ending. I fell like I almost could have gotten over my other qualms with the final two books if it all ended well, but frankly I was ticked off with how badly it just fizzled out. Clearly the author lost her steam. This series should have remained as just one book: The Hunger Games. I was on board with the first book, but the next two just made me feel like I wasted my time. Even collecting my thoughts to write this review made me say, "Ugh...". I give Mockingjay 2 out of 5 stars.

I do apologize to anyone out there who liked this series - so far I seem to be a major minority. As I've gotten older I have developed a distaste for many book series, in particular of the young adult genre. It's exactly like what I see happening to films. They start off with a huge success in the first book, then just deliver crap from then on out knowing that people will buy it because they enjoyed the first one and want to see what happens next. I think it's easiest to get away with this type of quality fade in young adult novels since the kids usually aren't the ones doing the buying - the next birthday or holiday some older relative will think, "Oh, Jenny really loved the first book in this series. I'm going to buy the entire box set of the rest," and the publishers rake in the cash. We need to take a stand against crap books, ya'll. Quit spending your money on it and eventually we will end up with a higher quality of entertainment.

P.S. I an dying to see how they translate Mockingjay into a movie. Seriously, you could cut more than half of that book ans still get the message. Of course I'll be waiting until I can rent it so I don't boost the box office sales, lol. Rant over.

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