**spoiler alert** It's been almost a week since I finished this and I still can't decide how to define this book. I can't even bring myself to call it...more**spoiler alert** It's been almost a week since I finished this and I still can't decide how to define this book. I can't even bring myself to call it a good read. Easy? Yes. Decent? Maybe. But good? No. Unlike with the first two books in the series (there were a couple of slow points in Catching Fire), I found myself suffering from shiny object syndrome. I'd slog through a couple of pages and suddenly remember something I wanted to google or need to check to see if I already had another book on my shelves or go make a peanut butter sandwich.
Full of stupidity and contrived events. Not sure if I was more annoyed or disappointed. Katniss, our once strong, plucky, determined heroine spent the vast majority of this book either sitting in a closet whimpering and sniffling or being unconscious. Because of this choice by the author, she is informed later, along with the reader, of everything that happened. Talk about passive story telling. When something did happen - and rarely did it actually happen to Katniss - she followed it up with another round of guilt and self pity (sob.I'm just a pawn.sob.) I so wanted Haymitch to dump a pitcher of water on her head multiple times.
Contrived scenarios abounded throughout those almost 400 pages. District 13 is entirely on their own. No Allies. No nothing. They barely have enough people to be considered a District (why didn't they change their name like every other newly formed country on the planet does). Did a meteor hit the other side of planet earth? Completely wiping out Europe? Africa? Asia? Even the original 13 colonies had France. Whatever. Supposedly Coin in all her wisdom and none of the friends she needs wanted to save Peeta not Katniss? Huh? Peeta was never, ever the one the hoards followed. Then you have an elite group of soldiers (Think Seal Team) sent on a very specific mission and you send in an unknown, self destructive person to join them. Someone who has the severe potential of getting the whole group captured or killed. I don't care how much you hate one particular soldier, no commander risks the whole elite team like that. It was simply Collins' contrived way of bringing Peeta back to the A story. All so we could overhear the Peeta/Gale late night chat. And don't even get me started on that conversation. How are either of those two even slightly ok with being the equivalent of Katniss deciding whether she wants Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops for breakfast.
Normally I can deal with character deaths. I may not like them, but I deal. I mean this is supposed to be dystopian. They're involved in a war. People will die. It's to be expected. But because this is a story, those deaths need to be important. They need to move the plot in some way, shape or form (unless of course they're the never met them before red shirt characters). I still can't figure out what purpose Finnick's death served story wise. Other than to give Katniss yet another opportunity to beat herself up. Would it really have been a bad thing to give one character an actual happy ending? Heck once again we don't even get to "see" something happen - we're just told. Prim's death was ridiculous. What type of leader sends in the medical/humanitarian aide into what is an active firefight, especially without first making sure the area is secure? And then intentionally drop bombs on that very spot. I thought 13 was a little short on population. The only thing her death allowed for was a reason for the author to shove Gale out of the way. It wasn't like Gale took himself out of the running on his own. No, it was based on the idea that maybe, possibly, Gale might have had the idea that eventually led to 13 bombing the hell out of their own soldiers, thus causing the death of a member of Katniss's family (never mind that he didn't put Prim there). That's nothing at all like Katniss and her actions causing the other districts to rise up and try to rest control from the Capitol which in turn led to the bombing of 12 and the deaths of Peeta's entire family. (Insert Eye Roll HERE)
In case you couldn't tell, I was Team Gale, even though I knew he probably didn't have a chance. However, I wish Katniss had stuck to her with one of her early statements about not picking either of them and being on her own. That I could have respected. Choosing Peeta because in essence he was the only one left wasn't her making a choice at all.
The one part of the book that got to me? In the last few pages when Katniss finds Buttercup. Not really surprising - I nearly burst into tears during those sappy Sarah McLaughlin voice over ASPCA commercials. The idea of Buttercup finding his way home to District 12 through the barren landscapes and past the freaky predators out there...well...just...sniff.
If you've read the first two book in the series, then this one is probably worth reading to. Just don't expect to like it. (less)
**spoiler alert** Catching Fire is pretty much a mixed bag for me. In some ways I liked it better than The Hunger Games but in others it didn't measur...more**spoiler alert** Catching Fire is pretty much a mixed bag for me. In some ways I liked it better than The Hunger Games but in others it didn't measure up. I appreciated that the characters were better drawn, had more depth. And not just those we've known for awhile (Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, etc), but also the previous victors, Gale's family, etc. I could see where the emotional stakes were high. And the last 10 pages were great action-wise (view spoiler)[HA. I knew 13 still existed. Now if I could just figure out where 13 is supposedly located, because the details we know DO NOT work together (hide spoiler)]
The thing is, there was this over all been there, done that, bought the t-shirt feeling that hung over three quarters of the book. Basically from the party at the end of the victory tour on. Oh look. Another round of the games.Cinna creating another set of brilliant costumes. The prep team fawning all over Katniss. Katniss whining. Peeta being the gallant, stage present hero (so, so, so annoyed with the whole baby thing). Haymitch snarking. Ok, this wasn't a bad thing - I like Haymitch's drunken snark but anyway.... Katniss sniffling. And sniffling some more. Seriously at one point I wanted someone to kill Peeta just so she'd find some tree to go sob in and we could get a new narrator. And I realize that Katniss is a somewhat "innocent" 17 year old but boy is she dense. I knew the moment Plutarch thumbed the watch face showing the mockingjay that he was working against the Capitol.
So while I liked parts of this installment, the sum of the whole didn't quite measure up.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fast paced, exciting plot, strong heroine. I was honestly surprised at how fast of a read it was. There were often moments where I told myself just on...moreFast paced, exciting plot, strong heroine. I was honestly surprised at how fast of a read it was. There were often moments where I told myself just one more page - so that I'd know what happened. There were moments that brought me near tears. Always give credit when an author gets me to care about characters enough to make me emotional over what happens to them. So in that sense, this book was excellent.
So why not 5 stars? Well...because. Because Collins has a way of telegraphing when the big "moments" are going to happen. You can see when the action and/or emotion starts to increase story-wise in preparation for that event that is supposed to make you gasp.
Because most of the minor characters were so shallowly drawn that they might as well have been posters tacked to the walls of the Hob or trees in the arena. Would it have harmed the story to know Foxface's real name? We know more about Buttercup the Cat than we do about most everyone else.
And because of the world building. Really, I need to learn that when my brain starts nagging me to look up something, I need to tell it to hush. I try, but then my mind picks up on some small-ish detail that I already know to be not quite right and it's off to figure out why. So Panem is supposedly what was once North America? That's a pretty big place. Canada is the second largest country by area in the world. The US is 4th. Mexico is top 20. District 12 is in what was referred to as Appalachia, an area that stretches from southwestern New York to northern Alabama. And yet, there's only like 8,000 people there. Now I'm assuming from the coal mine descriptions and the seasons, Collins is referring to somewhere in Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Still a big area, and yet there's only 8,000 people. Really? That's less than the small town I work in. And all of that supplies enough coal for everyone, everywhere? mmkay. Sure. And I have a bridge in District 13 that I'd like to sell (probably either the Mackinac or the Ambassador. I figure both are the closest to Canada where graphite is mined and the large amount of water needed for anything nuclear, putting them in what is probably 13). Yes, the map of Panem that I was trying to visualize was driving me nuts.
Liked it a lot but didn't love it. Fast paced and an interesting plot, but there were a few too many coincidences and jumps to conclusions for my liki...moreLiked it a lot but didn't love it. Fast paced and an interesting plot, but there were a few too many coincidences and jumps to conclusions for my liking.
I'd be willing to try another book by this author.(less)
Definitely a fun read! Good twists and turns along with an unusual premise. Yes, it required a bit of suspended disbelief, but who cares. At 80 or so...moreDefinitely a fun read! Good twists and turns along with an unusual premise. Yes, it required a bit of suspended disbelief, but who cares. At 80 or so pages I'm not expecting John LeCarre or even Robert B Parker. I just want to be entertained. This book more than accomplished that.
Oh and the main character had complete conversations with "his" cat. That alone was enough to make me like the story (because I never do that).(less)
Lots and lots of cliches. From the ridiculous love triangle to the clueless teen who finds out she has a mysterious family/past to the underdeveloped...moreLots and lots of cliches. From the ridiculous love triangle to the clueless teen who finds out she has a mysterious family/past to the underdeveloped stereotypical cast of supporting characters. On top of that our heroine, Lexi has some sort of massive guilt complex that causes her to blame herself for everything that happens to every other person out there.
At times the writing was ok and even flowed fairly well, but those times only showed up in small amounts. Otherwise, there was too much exposition (remember it's always better to show not tell), too much repetition (does anyone actually say his/her eye color is aquamarine?) and too much silly, stilted dialogue (no one talks like that).
Gave it 2 stars because oddly - and I can't believe I'm saying this - there's a tiny part of me that wants to read book 2. Not sure if it's because the sarcastic portion of my brain wants to come out and play some more or if it's because I want to see if the author can pull off the big confrontation between Lexi and one of her potential love interests that should have appeared near the end of book 1.(less)