Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review - Catching Fire & another Award

So if you're counting, yes, that's right. I went out and bought it, and then read it in three days. Do I need to grade it for you? A+ again! And August 27 can't get here fast enough...

If you're totally lost, I'm talking about Book 2 in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

On Monday I reviewed Book 1, The Hunger Games, which I'd been hearing about but hadn't been terribly motivated to pick up because I didn't think I'd like it.

I was wrong.

So tell you about Catching Fire? OK!

It's either the French or the Russian revolution (or both) that teaches the political lesson of "never let the poor get too poor." That's the overall tone of Catching Fire. The poor districts have lost so much, they're just looking for someone to challenge the Capitol.

That someone turned out to be main character Katniss Everdeen in her resolution of the Hunger Games that were the basis of the first book.

Uprisings are breaking out and during their "victory tour," Katniss and Peeta see how close everything is to collapse. And Katiness finds out how much trouble she's in for it.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot and spoil any of the excitement, so I'll just say I read the first 12 chapters in one sitting right after I got the book. It's that good.

Collins does a great job pulling the reader into the desperation of the district residents via Katniss, and I liked how in this book Katniss wasn't always having to rescue Peeta.

The post-traumatic stress both former tributes are struggling with is nicly portrayed and naturally Peeta's the only one Katniss can turn to for comfort, the only one who shares her nightmares.

CF is another emotional story, and Collins has a lot of fun manipulating the reader through the whole Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle. That's the difference from THG--the relationships take center stage much more than the games.

The mid-season Quarterly Quell (mini-games) in CF are even more treacherous with additional animals and physical elements for the tributes to face. But surprisingly, this book had far less graphic violence than THG.

Again, I started to get bored when they returned to the Capitol for training and presentation of the tributes to the Gamemakers. But this time it was just one chapter and we were out of there and into the arena. And back to flying.

CF is 100-percent bad-language and adult-situation free (Moms), and sensitive readers need be less wary of this installment.

These would make great book club books because they lend themselves to lengthy discussion. Collins smoothly pulls in current trends and makes them dark and sinister in her post-apocalyptic world. I mean, this is a world where kids fight to the death for the amusement of the general population. It would be unbelieveable if there weren't historical precedent. (Christians v. Lions anyone?)

Personally, I think it's cool that as writers we have the ability to touch on so many issues and themes and get people talking about them. That's an element of writing that drew me into journalism--shaking people up and getting them talking about what's happening. I'll be curious to see if these books become modern classics.

* * *

And now for the blog blinga-ding-ding:

One of my supercool fellow bloggers, Tami "Hart" Johnson a.k.a., "The Watery Tart," gave me the Mayan "End of Days" Award yesterday.
Let me just say, I would expect nothing less from the leading proponent of Naked World Domination.

Tami-Hart is also a soon to be published author (penname Alyse Carlson), and I cannot wait to read her untitled cozy mystery the second it's off the presses. (Review soon to follow here.)

So the way this award works, I have to say what I'd do if the Mayans are right and the world ends Dec. 21, 2012. I've always been a skeptic when it comes to end of the world predictions, but perhaps we'll discuss that later.

OK, so if the Mayans are right, and the world ends in a little over two years, what would I do between now and then...

#1-I know it's corny and predictable, but spend as much time with my family, friends, children, etc., as possible. (I know--do that now! And I do, but I'd do it MORE.)

#2-Take those trips to Europe I've been putting off "til I can afford it." To heck w/affording it! My passport's up to date--European friends, you're on alert~

#3-Pull the kids out of school, buy an RV and take all those trips to North American spots I'd like to see--the Grand Canyon (again, because seeing it at five doesn't count), Niagra Falls, Canada, Maine, Alaska, Hawaii... (uh... huh?) 

Now, I'm supposed to pass this, I guess. It's an odd award to pass... I also need to pass my Supportive Commenter award. I'm very remiss. And I just discovered that Jen over at Unedited gave me the "Newbie Bestie" award.

Awww! I'll need to be passing this one along as well.

Tell you what, that'll be Monday's post. In the meantime, have a great weekend, reader friends!

Lose yourself in a book~


Hart Johnson said...

Great review, Leigh! And those vacations are a great point... I've had a 'circle the Mediterrenean on my list for years! Barcelona to Morocco--I'm THERE!

It's funny... I am a bad mom... I don't even think about screening for all those 'past PG themes'--I'm just not really that kind of mom. Much rather generate some conversation and talk about it.

LTM said...

ooo... Mediterranean & Morocco. Yesss--there, too. Heck if the world's ending, it's time for a blow-out!

And you are an excellent mom. Stop it. ;p

Melissa said...

This is a really great review. I got the first two HG books at the beginning of the summer, read the first and loved it. I don't want to read the second until the third comes out (because I have the patience of a flea and want to go right through!)

Carolyn Abiad said...

THG definitely gets my vote for a modern classic! I was just at Borders picking up "Fire" and the guy had to get it from the back. A fellow reader piped up in the meantime and suggested THG as an alternative...word of mouth ladies...its all about word of mouth...and great reviews like yours, Leigh!

LTM said...

@Mel: I think you're safe to start CF if you want. For me, after THG, I was distraught. I HAD to know what was going to happen next. Upon finishing CF, I'm OK to wait and find out... I wonder if the Gale factor has anything to do w/that...?

@Carolyn: Yes! Word of mouth. I've been surprised at how many folks haven't heard of these books or have "just heard about them the other day..." Writers helping other writers. P.S. Team Haydon... ;o) LOVE him~ (them)

Unknown said...

Great review!!! I really need to get my hands on the novel, I'm one of the few that have yet to read it!!!

That award looks awesome on your blog ;)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Your book review made me want to read both books. And it affirms the words of Louis LaAmour : The most dangerous man is the one with nothing to lose. The only thing more dangerous is a group of them.

New Zealand would be my destination is I knew the world was ending when the Mayans said it would.

And in a way, the end of the world will come for each of us at some disputed baracade, soon or late.

Perhaps we should live each day as if it were our last -- because today may well be our last glimpse of the world and our loved ones. Roland

LTM said...

@Jen--you'll really like them, I think. Last installment is due out this month. And THANK YOU for my award! It does look pretty~ :o)

@Roland--Aww... LL! word of mouth is a powerful thing--I think you'll dig the books! I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

New Zealand--YES! And you make a good point to remember. Live each day like it's the last. You're correct~ :o)

Denise Covey said...

Loved your reviews. Good advice from Roland there - live each day as if it were your last..:)

Cruella Collett said...

I know I'm only adding to your "burden", but I have another award for you ;) I'm just kidding - I know you appreciate all your award, and it's not a doubt in my mind that you deserve them all!

As for the book(s) - I will have to read them, I have realized. I read somewhere that the concept was very similar to the Japanese "Battle Island" (which I own, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet), so I was thinking to read that one first. But your reviews (that I only skimmed, in fear of spoilers) tempted me into trying Collins first after all...

Anonymous said...

And I understand that there's another award winging its way to you right now. Such is fame.
Interesting post. Thanks.

All the best, Boonsong