The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Soooooo remember when I read The Hunger Games and I liked it and then I read the sequels and I did not like them? If you did, you’re better than me, because I totally forgot the first part of that. And so when my book group decided to read The Hunger Games I was like, uggggggggggggggggggggh I don’t wanna.

And so I sat down and I started reading it, and then I got distracted by other books, and then I decided to just power through it and oh, right, I forgot that this one is actually pretty darn good and so I stayed up until midnight (horrors!) reading it.

In case you also have forgotten this book in the wake of its sequels, the premise is awesome: dystopian future, The Man (well, The Capitol) keeping his subjects down, said subjects unable to rally against The Capitol because they are instead pitted against each other in a yearly deathmatch using children and sadly not claymation. Oh, devious, Capitol. Delightfully evil. Well done.

My favorite parts of this book take place in the arena. Kids killing kids, kids allying with kids who are going to kill them later, kids making up temporary ethics in order to have some semblance of humanity in the midst of all the killing. Watching Katniss devise plans is awesome; watching her carry them out is even more awesome.

The rest? Eh. I had a lot of problems with this book last time I read it because of the love story, which still stinks, and the handful of things that seem super important at the beginning but seem to be forgotten by the end, which still exist and still irk but after reading the whole series I know which ones to just flat-out ignore. I actually got through a lot of the crappier parts of the book that way this time, just remembering that they weren’t really important and thus not worrying about them. I highly recommend this course of action.

Another plus side to the re-read is that I could stop being frustrated that Collins chose to create a love story that I find both implausible and annoying and instead just read her story as written. I still found myself rolling my eyes at many turns, but I could appreciate better the interactions and emotions that Collins created. I’m going to maintain my allegiance to Team Katniss Should Grow A Pair, but I guess I can hang out with the other teams if they’re having a party or something.

Recommendation: If you like a good (bad?) dystopian future and some excellent fighting and logic-using, you should read this book. Just this one.

Rating: 8/10
(A to Z Challenge)

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

So… remember when I read Catching Fire and I thought it was pretty crappy but I was willing to let the third book decide my feelings and I said please for the love of goodness count me out of the love story?

Well. I have now read the third book. And I am just not pleased.

I will grant that it is, like the others, a quick, engaging read. I really wanted to know what was going to happen to these kids, even if I didn’t care about the kids themselves so much. And there’s definitely a lot more of the fun action-y goodness of the first novel than there was in the second. So these are good things.

But, I was amazed at how much I didn’t care about the characters. I cared about the situations they were in, sure, but you could have swapped a character here and there and I would have cared about those situations the same amount. And even then, sometimes a situation would get me all interested and then it would be incredibly anticlimactic and I felt a little cheated. Specifically, there is a point when one character gives some very explicit instructions to another character, which would have been very interesting if said instructions had been followed, but they were not, and yet nothing comes of it. Nowhere do we find out why the instructions might have been given; nowhere do we find out even why they weren’t followed. Nothing. I felt like I did with those darn spiders from The Name of the Wind, only repeated several times in a much shorter book.

Luckily, that love story business that I hated so darn much takes a bit of a vacation in this book — there’s some appropriate worrying at the beginning, but then it tapers off — except that luckily turns into “annoyingly” because there is a really stupid reason that the love story falls apart. But then, definitely annoyingly, the love story comes back at the end, albeit in a much more depressing form.

And then there is an epilogue, and you know how I feel about epilogues (if you don’t: I despise them). Though I will admit that this is one of the more unexpected epilogues of those that I have read, and therefore I have a little bit of respect for it. A little.

All in all, book and series? Meh.

Recommendation: Read this if you’ve read the other two. If you’ve only read the first, just live with that, you’ll be happier. If you’ve not read any, well, you should of course start with the first one. If you want to. I am very ambivalent about this series.

Rating: 6/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

See also:
Chrisbookarama
At Home With Books
Persnickety Snark
Jules’ Book Reviews
books i done read
…and all of their respective brothers.

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

So, remember when I read The Hunger Games and I thought it was an okay read but I wasn’t thrilled and I said count me out of the love story? Well, certain people convinced me that the sequel wasn’t really a love story, regardless of Teams Peeta and Gale, and so I read the sequel. In an evening. Collins can really write an engaging plot line.

But maybe not a good one, as I got to the end and was like, “Um, what? What? What??? No freaking way!” with a grumpy look on my face.

I told my Amy earlier that this book suffers from serious Book Two of a Trilogy Syndrome, in which the author has come up with a good beginning, and also a good (one hopes) end, but can’t really figure out how to connect the two and thus crams too many things into the middle book. In this case, the middle book covers the span of an entire year, from shortly after the end of Katniss’s Hunger Games and straight through the next year’s Games. Because of this, there’s necessarily a lot of jumping around — Katniss and Peeta prepare for the Victory Tour, Katniss gets the lives of her family and friends threatened, they start the tour in District 11, some stuff of importance happens in a couple other districts, the Victory Tour is over, more threats, vague notions of rebellion/escape… you get the idea. It’s not very well connected and I personally felt almost more interested in what was happening in the parts that got glossed over than the parts that were written in detail, which is not good.

And the next Hunger Games… there seemed to be way too much time spent on it for how important it really is to the story, especially after finding out what happens in the end. I think that Collins could have left out some of that boring action and thrown in some more of the rebellion and intrigue that she ignored in the beginning, and I would have been much happier.

Since I’ve now read the first two books, I’ll probably read the third just for the closure, but I wouldn’t really recommend reading the second one right now. If the third one is awesome, I’ll let you know it’s safe to read this one. 🙂

Rating: 6/10
(A to Z Challenge)

See also:
Jules’ Book Reviews
book-a-rama
The Bluestocking Society
dreadlock girl
Midnight Book Girl
books i done read

Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (4 August)

What with the sequel coming out soon, I figured I ought to read this before I got ridiculously spoiled for it. But I guess I probably wouldn’t have, anyway, since the whole novel is fairly predictable.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and Collins does a good job of taking the predictable things and sort of letting them happen and moving on quickly. Except for the love story, which I disliked immensely — not this one in particular, just that there was a love story at all — and if that’s what the sequel’s all about, you can count me out right now. Seriously.

For those who have not hopped on this particular bandwagon, here’s the deal: Katniss Everdeen lives in a world where The Man keeps his subjects down by a) dividing them into districts with no interaction between them and b) forcing two teenagers from each district to compete every year in the eponymous tournament. The last person standing wins and gets to live a life of relative luxury (not hard in the slums these districts are) for ever and earns some luxury for his/her district for the year. When Katniss’s little sister gets her name picked out of the hopper, Katniss quickly volunteers to go in her place, even though Katniss certainly would not have wanted to go otherwise. She and her new rival, Peeta, go off to the Capitol and fight to the death in a specially tricked-out arena full of woods and rivers but also fireballs and mutated wasps.

I quite liked the dystopian premise here for its cruel ingenuity. The districts have to give up two children each year to fight, but even if one wins the other must lose, so there’s only a bittersweet joy if there is a winner. Good stuff. And the actual battling in the arena was really well done.

For all I say about predictability, there are a couple of things that happened in the beginning of the novel that made me go, “Oh, red flag, that’s important later, yes it is,” but then they didn’t pay off AT ALL in the end. I don’t know if they’ll be important in the next book or what, but they were really frustrating in this one.

Rating: 8/10