The Year of the Snake has begun and I wish all my readers a healthy, prosperous and Happy Chinese New Year!
Massive, cliché rebellion. Far too much Hunger Games.
455 pages, ★★★
I found this book boring.
Ninety percent of Mockingjay depicts a rebellion against the Capitol, during which, Peeta is captured and Katniss fights in a mockingjay costume. Mockingjay reminded me of two more disappointing trilogies: Matrix Revolutions and The Bourne Ultimatum… all were action-packed but lacked an interesting story.
Even though some people die along the way, Mockingjay ends with Peeta and Katniss living happily ever after. The evil Capitol falls.
I strongly recommend the first book, but it leaves you with no cravings for a second or third book at all. Don’t waste your time reading them just because they exist—one Hunger Games book was enough. ★★★
Book two begins with Katniss Everdeen at Victor’s Village.
The first book described the 74th Hunger Games; this book describes the 75th. There’s a “Quarter Quell” this year, a major Hunger Games battle with 48 veteran tributes (rather than 24 newbies), held every 25 years. Katniss and Peeta are, once again, called up to fight.
75 years? Tyrannies in the modern era have never survived for more than 90 years. In fact, most of them get toppled after 70 or 80. Without reading any further, I think this could be the last Hunger Games in Panem. It’s not unthinkable that this trilogy could see the end of Panem altogether, in a rebellion possibly led by Katniss herself.
Katniss talks about marrying Peeta (chapter 3) and having his baby (page 309), but disguises her love for him as rebelliousness against her country, Panem. She convinces herself so much (too much) that she ends up joining a real rebellion with her other crush, Gale (yes, that’s a man). She kisses both of them in several times in this novel. Panem is outraged at their being together, so Katniss and Gale pretend to be cousins for their own safety.
Ligatures. The kerning in this book is imperfect, and ligatures are altogether absent. This affected my enjoyment of the book, but most readers probably won’t notice anything’s wrong. The words, ‘mockingjay’, ‘flower’, ‘fish’, ‘fling’ and ‘Right’ all look awkwardly-spaced—ugly, even. Book one was fine.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, but I’m still hankering for more—especially because the last line tells us that Katniss’ home district has been destroyed. I’ve ordered book three and will review it in a few weeks’ time.★★★★
The Hunger Games are no-rules, last-man-standing battles organised by the tyrannical rulers of a fictitious North American country. Two fighters (“tributes”, as they’re called) are picked from each of the country’s twelve districts at annual nomination ceremonies (“reapings”). Brave, 16-year-old protagonist Katniss Everdeen volunteers to enter this deadly battle to save her younger sister, who was initially chosen. Unlike her sister, Katniss is proficient with a bow-and-arrow, and thinks she might stand a chance at being the one surviving fighter in the arena.
Such challenging circumstances can catalyse the process of falling in love. Enter Peeta, who was chosen to fight alongside Katniss. Peeta is a weaker, more sentimental character who has had a crush on Katniss since they were children. In a confused, teenage way, they kiss many times on the battlefield, and fall in love.
Falling in love is a rite of passage for Katniss. On page 137, she says Peeta’s love makes her feel grown up. Naturally, she’s confused by her own feelings. On page 373, Katniss whines, “it’s no good loving me because I’m never going to get married anyway and he’d just end up hating me later rather than sooner”.
Sometimes, she doubts whether she loves Peeta. On page 358, she says that rebelliousness, not love, was her reason for kissing him. On page 298, she discounts her actions and says, “this is the first kiss where we actually wanted each other”.
On other occasions, she admits to being completely besotted. By page 345, they threaten the Hunger Games organisers with a slightly-silly near-double-suicide pact rather than continuing to live without each other. In just a few days, their love has become more important than life itself. Teenagers can be quite like that.
Reading The Hunger Games, I feel like I’m standing right in the protagonist’s shoes. This fast, action-packed, first-person and linear book would lend itself very well to a first-person shooter (FPS) computer game.
I think the Hunger Games is a caricaturisation of the dog-eat-dog mentality in some schools. Kids are forced to undergo gruelling examinations when they would rather be playing—or falling in love. Could that be why teenagers worldwide have clicked so avidly to this “cruel adults make teenagers fight to the death” story? Possibly so.
Book one was so good that I bought book two. Review coming tomorrow. ★★★★★