The movies reached tremendous success and that revived people’s interest in the books. I must confess that when The Hunger Games (the movie) was out in 2012 I thought it was just a silly teenager flick and never bothered seeing it. Last year though, when Catching Fire was on theatres my friends wanted to go see it and I gave in: watched the first one, enjoyed it, watched the second one and got the trilogy for Christmas. Naturally, the fact that I had just seen the two movies affected my expectations and reactions I had when reading. I read the books really quickly and couldn’t wait to get to the third one so I’d be surprised by the story’s development.
Wasn’t I surprised…
But first things first.
For those of you who don’t know the story, the Hunger Games is set in post-apocalyptic USA where the Capitol rules over twelve districts. The districts provide the Capitol with everything they need, getting little in return. They are oppressed and some of them are starving – which led to a rebellion 75 years before our story point. When the rebellion was supressed, the Capitol started the Hunger Games: a yearly event where each district must provide two tributes, male and female, to fight to death while being televised for the whole country.
(Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers!) (Skip to last comment.)
The first book was thrilling. The main character and narrator, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers as a tribute in order to save her sister. The other tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, who has had a crush on her since they were kids.
The readers are taken into that world with her: the luxurious train, the exquisite food, the frivolous people of the Capitol, her fear, her determination, her conflicted feelings towards Peeta. After all, only one of them could survive and she couldn’t imagine killing him.
She’s a hunter and very skilled with the bow and arrows, which was one of the keys to her survival. Another strategy was faking being madly in love with Peeta, thus charming the audience and sponsors. The fights and deaths were gross and gory and her daring twist at the end brought both her and Peeta home alive.
In Catching Fire we are shown that President Snow is furious about that and concerned about possible uprisings in the districts, since they might have interpreted Katniss and Peeta’s suicide attempt an act of defiance. They couldn’t just walk away unpunished.
So they are thrown in the arena again. Lame. I know.
Their excuse was based on the fact that every 25 years there must be a Quarter Quell, the Hunger Games with special – and crueller – features. On this third Quarter Quell they drew the tributes from the remaining Victors from each district (it was actually quite interesting to see them and get to know their stories).
The Games themselves were just a bloodbath, the game makers’ weapons and creatures eliminated a lot of contestants. You could also realize that something was going on – some of the tributes went out of their way to keep Peeta and Katniss safe.
In the end they bring the whole arena down and some of them get rescued, the rest captured by the Capitol. Then we learn that District 13 still exists and a revolution was in the making.
Mocking Jay had so much potential. I just read some reviews and confirmed that I wasn’t the only one to think “What. The. Heck?”
I get it that Katniss must have been somewhat traumatized – survived two Hunger Games and all – and angry after knowing they had been plotting and using her. Peeta was a prisoner at the Capitol, she had to live underground and comply with rules (totally against her nature) and on top of it all they wanted her to embrace the role of symbol of the Rebellion, the Mocking Jay (inspired by the golden pin she always wore in the games).
Besides, we are presented with some decent fights that will totally rock onscreen and the plot does develop – they fight their way into the Capitol, President Snow dies and there’s peace and justice in the end. BUT! Katniss is the one telling us the story and I lost my admiration and even my patience with her. The brave but slightly aloof girl from the Hunger Games now spends her time being clueless, apathetic, confused, angry, in pain, drugged, sleeping or hiding. Or thinking everything happens because of her, always.
We couldn’t see the story but from her eyes and they were closed half of the time.
The end was definitely rushed. Katniss was convinced (forced?) to be with the boy who always loved her. Peeta deserved better.
I still recommend it though. It’s entertaining and it keeps you on the edge of your chair. It reads fast and easy and you’ll always want to know what comes next. It just needed some more time and effort.