If I'm rating objectively, I give this book 5 stars. Patrick Rothfuss is a great author who tells a great story. Everyone should give this book a chanIf I'm rating objectively, I give this book 5 stars. Patrick Rothfuss is a great author who tells a great story. Everyone should give this book a chance. This being the second book of the series, the world he describes only gets bigger and the characters more developed.
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
...subjectively, I give the book only three stars. It was good, and worth the time, but I doubt I'd read it again. First of all, it's long. I like long books; I feel I've wasted my money if the book is less than 500 pages, and Wise Mans's Fear is nearly a thousand pages long. But length alone doesn't make a good book. Especially in a book that is 95% "journey" with almost no "destination." It didn't feel like there was any payoff to the story. It felt like exactly what it is: the middle book of a trilogy.
So, officially, five stars. I hate thinking that anyone might pass over these books just because I had some issues with it....more
**spoiler alert** At the end of The Hunger Games, book one of the trilogy, I was disappointed that author Suzanne Collins didn't seem to realize how m**spoiler alert** At the end of The Hunger Games, book one of the trilogy, I was disappointed that author Suzanne Collins didn't seem to realize how much symbolism she had built into her story. Symbols like fire and the mockingjay seemed to only exist to provide impressive visuals. Now having read all three books of the trilogy I realize I severely underestimated Ms. Collins grasp of the deeper themes of her own story.
Mockingjay is a fantastic conclusion to an incredible series of books. Rather than take the easy way out and give us a satisfying, crowd-pleasing ending that has us all punching the air in vindication, Collins gives us a well-reasoned, well-plotted story that admits that the Hunger Games leaves no on unchanged.
SPOILERS GOING FORWARD
I Always Feel Like... One of the major themes of the Hunger Games trilogy is the ubiquity of the cameras. From the moment Katniss steps forward to take her sister's place in the reaping, till long after the rebellion is over, someone is always watching Katniss Everdeen, and she knows it. And more than that, her life literally hangs on what people see and perceive.
In book one Katniss' performance in the game is a key element in gaining sponsor support. She learns early on to play up her relationship with Peeta to gain the food and supplies she needs to survive. In book two, President Snow delivers a stern ultimatum to Katniss advising her to "sell" her relationship with Peeta, not just to the districts, but to the president himself. Only if the nation believes that Katniss is utterly besotted with Peeta would her family be safe from Capitol retribution. And finally in book three Katniss becomes the Mockingjay, the symbol of rebellion; the larger than life figure that serves as a rallying cry for all the injustice the districts have felt over the years.
But how does one discover one's own identity while being forced to conform to the identity forced upon you? By the end Katniss has no idea who she really is. Is she a healer? Is she a fighter? Is she a leader, a loner, or a lover? Is she an individual charting her own course, or another puppet dancing on a dozen strings? And only when all is said and done, and the cameras turn away to something more interesting is Katniss really able to begin finding out who she really is.
"Real or not real? I am on fire." From the beginning of her first Hunger Games, Katniss gains a reputation as the girl on fire. At the start this is due to the tailoring skills of Cinna, her stylist. But by the end, Katiss has become the figurative (and briefly literal) firebrand igniting the passions of a repressed people.
Fire is a purifying agent, driving out worthless chaff. Fire refines and hones a substance into its essence. And fire consumes. And even Katniss, the girl on fire, cannot escape the conflagration she herself ignites. But that is not the end. In one of my favorite scenes of the series, the broken, burnt-out husk of Katniss Everdeen collapses on the sofa at her home and dreams of ashes and ashes and still more ashes ashes being piled upon her grave until she is utterly subsumed.
But in the morning, the phoenix rises. The new day marks the beginning of Katniss' emotional healing. It's slow. It's painful. And it's never complete. But Katniss has found a reason to live. She has risen from the ashes transformed.
"What would have happened...." After the rebels take the Capitol mansion and await the trial of President Snow, Katniss has a moment to reflect on what her life might have been. While looking at her long-time friend Gale, Katniss wonders, "What would have happened to them if the Hunger Games had not reaped the girl."
There are so many ways to say that sentence. "What would have happened ... if Prim's name had not been called ... if she had not volunteered ... if the girl had not been sent to the Hunger Games." But no, we're left with the thought, "The Hunger Games reaped the girl." I don't think I'm the only who has noticed the similarity in the words "reaped" and "raped." And even if Ms. Collins did not mean to evoke that idea, it provides an apt metaphor for the Games.
The Hunger Games are a violation of the innocent. The Hunger Games are a brazen use of overwhelming force against the helpless. The Hunger Games are a supremely selfish act that leaves its victims either dead or scarred forever. Whether on a personal level (witness Haymitch) or on a national level, the Hunger Games leaves no one unharmed.
And all this in a book for teens.
I think some people reading this review will say that I'm reading way too deep into what is really just an entertaining piece of fiction. And you may be right. I was thrilled, and I was entertained, and yes, I even got a little misty during the books' beautiful epilogue. But there's one final theme that runs throughout the series to mention that I'll only touch on briefly here: At what price entertainment? If entertainment is only a mindless diversion, how long until our own Hunger Games?
Is it possible to be entertained while challenged intellectually and morally? The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins is a resounding "Yes."...more
**spoiler alert** First of all: Why did I rate Catching Fire 5 stars when I only rated Hunger games 3 stars? Quite simply, because this book is what I**spoiler alert** First of all: Why did I rate Catching Fire 5 stars when I only rated Hunger games 3 stars? Quite simply, because this book is what I wanted the first book to be. And now that I've read the two of them, I can see that book one had to be the way it was in order for book two to be fantastic story it is. Confused?
One of my biggest criticisms with book 1, The Hunger Games, is that the action centered around a nationally-televised death match involving kids. And while Collins does a great job at world-building to explain how something so horrific has become an annual event now in it's 74th year in Panem, I could never embrace the idea that something so horrific could persist so long. Beyond that I was disturbed with the though that myself, as a reader, was cheering (or at least expected to cheer) for my own choice in the games just like every other blood-thirsty citizen of the Capitol city. Though it crossed my mind that perhaps Collins wanted me to feel this way, the irony was too much for me.
In The Hunger Games I wanted to see that more of the people of Panem felt the way I did and that whatever the cost, this annual atrocity could not be permitted to continue. Instead, I found a broken people. A people with the fight taken out of them by nearly a century of oppression. A people, as it turns out, near the boiling point.
My biggest criticism with book 1, and the reason I keep it at 3 stars, is that it ended too soon. After reading the opening chapters of book 2 I decided that they would have made a much more satisfying conclusion to the first book. Take the first two chapters of book 2, condense them down to a single chapter ending with Katniss' conversation with President Snow and you have the perfect resolution to book 1--at least one that would satisfy my complaints. Because now you hear rumors of rebellion, you see very clearly how angry the president is with Katniss, and you know life won't be so easy for the victors from District 12.
And that's what Book 2, Catching Fire is all about. Here is where I saw everything that I wanted to see in book 1: a population in revolt. And though you only ever see it through Katniss' limited perspective, by the end of the book you understand just how deep and how wide the rebellion has spread, and simultaneously the costs of revolt.
In book 1, the violence is presented almost exclusively as entertainment. In book 2 it feels a lot more personal and real. After the first book, like I said, I wondered if the author was trying to impress the irony of the situation upon us--that we the readers were little better than the Capitol citizens, swept up in the pageantry and lights, and cheering on the brutal spectacle of the games. And though I wondered if that was what Collins was driving at, at that point I wouldn't have put money on it. But now that I've finished book 2, I'm certain of it.
I'm also certain now that book 1 had to end the way it did. Book 1 presents us with the world that was--a broken and beaten world too afraid to rebel. A world that suffers the annual games if only to get past it and back on to "normal" life. As far as Katniss knows, that's exactly what she's returning to--if enhanced somewhat as a victor--at the end of the book. And so it's fitting that reader be left with the same impression. Even though I could wish that book 1 had one more chapter to set up the next book, I can understand why it did not.
If book 1 show the world that was, book 2 shows us the beginning of the end of that world. As I said, this is the book that I wanted book 1 to be. Here we see a population at its breaking point, a government scrambling to quell the rumors of revolt, and even the grim repercussions of rebellion.
Though I may have been somewhat doubtful of Collins' talents as a writer*, I am now thoroughly convinced that she knows what she is doing. And if after the end of book 1 I was only mildly interested in reading the second book, I am now eager to read the conclusion of this incredible trilogy.
(*Yes, she can write a good sentence, but being a good writer involves so much more!)...more