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Have you read the Hunger Games trilogy, specifically, Catching Fire?
I read the first book last year, and just read the second recently, to coincide with the Catching Fire movie which opens tonight at midnight (how do I know this detail? My oldest daughter plans to attend a midnight showing).
And … I continue to feel thoroughly meh regarding the Hunger Games books. I’m not totally sure why. For sure, Catching Fire is a depressing book, full of violence. It continues the original Hunger Games story, where people from each “district” of the country of Panem are “reaped” each year to participate in a televised reality show called The Hunger Games. But unlike Survivor, people don’t just get voted off the island in these games. They are killed, one by one, until only one is left.
In Catching Fire, this is the 75th year of the games, which calls for something different: contestants for the games this year are chosen from among survivors of previous games. And guess what, winners (and heroes of book 1) Katniss and Peeta end up as contestants again.
Along with the games this year, there’s an added complication: many of the districts are beginning to revolt against the heavy-handed ways of the Capital (yes, I saw definite comparisons with the Tea Party and our present over-reaching federal government). The Capital decides to “punish” contestants who push back against the system.
The book is packed with action, and I’ll admit that I did keep reading just because I wanted to find out who would survive. No spoilers here, so I can’t tell you — but in typical Hunger Games fashion, the book ends with a big cliff-hanger that will force you to read the final book.
Why did I not like Catching Fire too much, even though I really did like similar “dark” books like The Road? I think the difference is in the writing. The writing in a book like The Road was spare, to be sure — but it was also poetic and made me think. In Catching Fire, the writing is very basic and just didn’t draw me in. It was kind of like reading a to-do list or a letter from a relative — just the basics. In addition, I didn’t really relate to any of the characters.
I can see why the Hunger Games books would be a big hit with teens, though, particularly teenage girls. Heroine Katniss isn’t into girly stuff and pretty much goes through life doing things on her terms, yet she has at least three hunky guys longing for her. What teenage girl wouldn’t love that? I’m wondering if this will be one of those rare instances where the movie will be better than the book, due to the book’s spare style and the over-the-top theatrical look of the film.
Did you read Catching Fire? What did you think? Do you plan to see the movie?