My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I saw the movie before I read the book, much to my misfortune. The story makes so much more sense read than watche
The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian world where a small group of affluent people control the rest that verge on starvation. The decadence of the controlling class is demonstrated in the grittiest of ways – a reality show where participants picked (by draw of lottery) from the poor are forced to fight each other to death. This much is old enough, referencing the arena games of the Romans. What’s really interesting is the details of the socio-political structures that exist, where they’re wearing thin and how this latest edition of the Hunger Games is a harbinger of revolution.
The protagonist Katniss Everdeen “The girl on fire” is complex, flawed and confused. Her decisions are often impulsive, brash and even cruel. But she sets into motion things that may have a lasting impact on the world around her. She begins as an unfortunate participant in the games and through the course becomes an unlikely contender to victory. What’s even more unexpected is the conflicts this causes in her relationships, with her family, her frame of reference, herself and with two men who love her.
A gripping read.
I believed that sequels are never as good as the original and this book gives me no reason to think otherwise. ‘Catching Fire’ isn’t exactly a sequel, it’s book 2 of a trilogy. Still, the excitement and energy of book 1 seems to flounder in this book.
Now that the Hunger Games are over and Katniss Everdeen, unbelievably, is the winner, what does life look like afterwards? There’s money and comfort of course but there’s also two men vying for her affections – Gale, the old never-acknowledged love she left behind and Peeta, her co-victor from the Hunger Games. Alternating between the two men, switching affections and her mind every couple of pages, the strong Katniss of Book 1 ends up reminding you of Bella (of Twilight).
Mercifully, this teenage romance triangle continues only till about 1/3rd of the book, by which time you’re granted reprieve with a plot twist. And in this, the book doesn’t disappoint. The central theme of Book 1 is taken, developed much further into a more intricate puzzle that the characters need to navigate their way out of.
The ending feels a bit rushed and the prose is a bit unclear. But by this time, the story has carried you through and almost to home stretch. So you’d have no qualms moving on to the next book.
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Mockingjay is Book 3 of the Hunger Games trilogy, the first warning signal. I’m coming to believe that trilogies are nothing more than a shameless bid to increase profitability – thrice the booksales & thrice the number of movie tickets sold (yes, definitely written keeping a movie script in mind).
The first book, The Hunger Games was magnificent for the world it created, the mood it conveyed and its strongly etched characters. The second book floudered and blundered into a Twilight Sagaesque love triangle before pulling itself out, albeit with an elaborate repetition of book 1. With Book 3, the series falls completely flat and dies an awkward, ugly death.
The Quarter Quell has been sabotaged and its surviving participants picked off by warring sides, thus revealing a bigger masterplan than simply the oppression of the poor by the rich. The trouble is the story seems to be a little tired of itself by this stage. The tight writing that etched out strong characters, conversations and bonds in Book 1 has completely come unravelled. New characters are herded in, a new universe is conjured up out of nowhere and everyone happily settles in, without question.
So we’re treated to a further rehash of Katniss’s by now sickening fluctuating between Gale & Peeta. In Book 2, she moons over Gale while Peeta watched mournfully. In this one, she’s separated from Peeta and in daily contact with Gale so the men switch in her affections. How is it possible to feel any sort of empathy for such a flighty, frivolous woman? Gone is the wilful, determined Katniss from Book 1 and she’s replaced by a silly, self-absorbed bimbette whose primary concern is how she appears as the face of the revolution and how it’ll help her get the man she wants – currently.
And while this book runs along as a spoilt teen romance, it also pretends to be a war novel. So there are liberal references to war drills & weaponry. Curiously enough, in this harshly militaristic world, a battered, concussed girl with a history of flouting authority needs just a couple of weeks to enlist in the army and what’s more – gets to drive the core strategy, so to speak. Who is surprised when she makes a hash out of it?
Mockingjay makes a mockery of all the readers who’ve stayed faithfully with the story to its end. Don’t bother wasting your time.