Book Review · reading

Book Review: Catching Fire

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. I read the first book a while ago, than read most of the third book and skipped the second entirely. Last week, I finished reading the second book.

In the aftermath of the first hunger games, Katniss and Peeta are both suffering from post-traumatic stress. Which only makes sense. Katniss is slowly realizing she’ll have to wed Peeta to stay alive and she doesn’t like the idea. Actually, I think she doesn’t like the idea of being forced to do something she hadn’t decided on doing.

There are lots of memorable parts in Catching Fire. The part where she learns she has to fight in the Hunger Games again. The part where she hangs a likeness of the evil president of the Capitol. (That was really good. LOL) The part where her wedding gown turns into a mockingjay bird’s plumage. See, that is something I would love see on the screen. The movie better not skip that scene. Watching Katniss and Peeta really fall in love. The speech she gives on tour to Rue’s people.

But the part that shocked was when Cinna was murdered. I don’t know why that hit me so hard. I wasn’t expecting him to die. Her family, yes, her friends, yes, I figured them to be fair game.

One of most often quoted rules of writing is to murder your darlings and nothing could hurt Katniss worse than to watch her family die. Her sister, Prim, in particular. Rue’s death in the first book was like a foreshadowing of Prim’s death, IMO. I mean, the number of times Katniss compared Rue and Prim, the number of times Rue reminded Katniss of Prim. I half-expected Prim to die in this book or at least come close to death.

Cinna, on the other hand, is a minor character. His death makes sense in the books. But it shocked me. Shocked me more on anything else in the books. But he turned her into the Girl On Fire. He turned her into the symbol of the rebellion. His death devastated me.

But Catching Fire was good. Really good. Catching Fire was better than both the first and second books. I read it faster than the Hunger Games, faster than Mockingjay. It is the best book in the whole series. That’s odd, because it is also a middle book and middle books are usually the weakest in a series.

It has a cliff hanger ending, but I didn’t mind since I had the next one at hand. Otherwise, I think I might have been a little upset. LOL


Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week starts today and goes on until October 1, 2011.

I decided I should honor it by reading one. There are probably some in my TBR list anyway and I won’t have to break my rule of no more books until the TBR list is in single digits.

I started by looking up lists of banned books and discovered the American Library Association (ALA) has some excellent lists. They keep track of this stuff.

For 2010 the top banned/challenged books are:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

I’ve not read Revolutionary Voices or And Tango Makes Three, but they were banned/challenged because of homosexuality. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I mean, there was a recent furor over agents rejecting books because of gay characters. In this day and age, when people are still trying ban/challenge books because of  homosexuality, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

I’ve only read three of these books: Brave New World, The Hunger Games and Twilight.

I can kind of understand of Brave New World and The Hunger Games. I don’t agree with it, but I can kind of understand it. A little. Brave New World’s use of science is pretty scary, not that it’s cited as a reason, but I imagine that’s why someone would ban/challenge it. The Hunger Games are pretty violent, but it fits the book and I am not sure I agree it’s “unsuited to age group”.

But Twilight? Seriously? What’s there to object to in Twilight? I don’t like Twilight, mind, but what about the religious viewpoint and violence? It’s not even that violent. And the religious viewpoint thing is pretty out there. I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me?

Also, for this past decade, from 2000-2009, the top banned/challenged book is the Harry Potter series. I look at that and laugh. It makes less sense than objecting to Twilight (which at least has vampires. Even if they are sparkly.) Harry Potter has the classic fantasy quest thing going on, some of the best world building around, great characters. How can anyone object to it?

Also, I still haven’t decided on a banned book to read, but 1984 appears on the ALA’s list of banned and challenged classics. Should be good.