Sunday, September 5, 2010


Numbers two and three in the trilogy that began with THE HUNGER GAMES. In CATCHING FIRE, Katniss has returned to Victory Village in District 12 to enjoy her triumph. But soon President Snow demands that she return to the arena, she and Peeta, on the 75th anniversary of the games, along with any other tributes who are still alive to face poisonous fogs and forcefields. Still torn between Gale and Peeta, Katniss becomes the symbol for a revolution, the mockingjay--a bird that can mimic any sound, including a human voice in pain. Peeta is captured by the Capitol, for torturing, and to bring Katniss into line. In MOCKINGJAY, Katniss must try to get him out safely. District 12 has been burned, although Gale managed to get Katniss's mother and sister Prim out in time, to District 13, where the revolution is growing. She is at times a pawn of the revolution, but in the end, she must help Peeta distinguish between Real and Not real (what the Capitol has tricked him into thinking). And she breaks the cycle of revolution, preventing one violent and authoritarian party from merely replacing another. It concludes with an ending that is surprisingly tender, and haunting, and carries a message that reminds me of that old Matthew Broderick movie, WAR GAMES. The only way to win is to stop the cycle. And she concludes ...

"on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I'm afraid it could b taken away. That's when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I've seen someone do. It's like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years. But there are much worse games to play."

I'd say HUNGER GAMES is my favorite of the three; as often happens in trilogies, the middle book doesn't seem to carry as much weight as the other two. But for all that, it's a good story arc, and while the plot drives the books, the symbolism and layers raise it well above a mere suspense/thriller.

I stand by my earlier comparison with Stieg Larsson's trilogy.

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