mellymell: (me at arches 2005)
[personal profile] mellymell
I have to say, I enjoyed Catching Fire and Mockingjay a lot more than The Hunger Games.

Also, in light of my discussion with [livejournal.com profile] padawansguide last time, I paid special mind not to spoil myself too much before reading these two. I didn't go off reading lengthy summaries of the books or looking for who dies in advance. I left it to my own guesses (which were right in most cases) and just jumped in and devoured them.

However tacked on I felt the continuation of the story felt at the end of the first book, I feel the reverse after reading the last two. I think maybe the idea for the main conflict developed before she figured out how her characters got there. I recognize that in the issue I'm facing in my book(s) right now. I've got this war and no idea what it's about or how it started or how my characters will get wrapped up in it and what roles they'll play in it. It seems she probably had a much better feel about hers than I do about mine right now. But I can see where there might have been some struggle to tie the first section to the remaining arc. I'm trying to reconcile character development and a bit of romance with plot and I can see where the bridge between the two could be really obvious if I'm not careful. The last two books just flow so perfectly from one to the other while the first feels segregated somewhat. That said, I don't think her bridge was too bad between books 1 and books 2/3. I feel sort of challenged to make mine at least as good. I'm just saying that I can see it.

The first person, present tense didn't bother me much at all in these books. Maybe it was because the story was so engaging that I didn't get as distracted, maybe because I got used to it and it didn't bother me as much. I don't know, but I was very glad to not feel like someone was tapping me on the shoulder every other paragraph to remind me I was reading a book instead of lost in a dystopian future.

Again, the action was spot on. I've thought a bit about it and think I see a defense for using present tense in a novel such as this. After reading the first book, I really had to wrack my brain to figure out a good application for present tense but I see it right in front of me now. I think the tense, as much as the clear word usage, helped to keep things visual and kept the action from getting muddled up and confusing (even if a character was confused during the action). That said, I think it takes just the right writer to make present tense work. So, YA lit writers jumping on this present tense bandwagon: KNOCK IT OFF! unless you're really, really good at it.

This woman writes confusion and chaos and trauma induced psychoses like a freakin' champ! She's able to make things seem disorienting to the character while we know exactly what is going on.

I was surprised both Peeta and Gale made it through. I thought for sure one of them would die before it was over. I never knew which one, though, which I guess should have tipped me off that neither one would. I knew Prim was going to die as soon as Rue died in the first one. Even knowing it was coming, I thought pushing it to the last 20 or so pages of the trilogy was brilliant! You think she's safe and protected in District 13, she's got a future, going to be trained to be a doctor, Katniss even relaxes her concern for her and then... BAM! She shows up in the final firestorm at the Capitol to tend to the wounded. If I'm honest, I know she's going to die the second Katniss starts describing her in the very beginning of book 1. But Rue's death really cinched it. Even still, I didn't really feel Prim's death until Katniss yells at Buttercup and has her breakdown. I recognized myself in her at that moment and how I dealt with my mom's death at times when it was still fresh. Add that to the list of devices I thought made Katniss' character authentic. When you lose someone that important to you, it's often a line of thought when you think about all the little things that person isn't going to be around to do anymore that sends you over the edge. It's not one massive sense of loss, it's a million tiny ones.

I liked that Katniss didn't kill Snow as a prisoner. I don't think she would have ever been satisfied by that, nor would I as a reader. As soon as Katniss was burnt by the explosions, I thought, "no, surely they're not going to let her kill him in custody. That would be lame."

I didn't trust Coin from the moment Katniss described District 13, even before we meet Coin. She was just another extremist, like Snow. I knew as soon as I "met" her, she was going to die at the hands of a rebellion of some sort. Katniss killing her when she was supposed to aim for Snow, however was a very welcome surprise. I didn't see it coming. Not like that, not at that moment. I knew as soon as Katniss talked to Snow that she'd be the one to do it. But that was an awesome way to reconcile both the potentially unsatisfying execution of Snow and the fact that Panem couldn't fall into the hands of yet another dictator.

I still don't like Peeta. I mean, I don't dislike him, but I feel like Katniss went with him because of obligation or lack of choice, since Gale took off, knowing he'd permanently damaged her perception of him. That said, I wish there had been more talk of Peeta's recovery. His particular paranoid delusions fascinated me and I wanted to read more about how they got him back, so to speak. Something more than "he sometimes grips the back of a chair until he can process his flashbacks" would have been nice.

Which leads me into what I felt like was a useless epilogue. I've been discussing this with [livejournal.com profile] padawansguide on Twitter this morning and before I get into a long convoluted explanation of what I didn't like (as I had written at first), I'm just going to say: From the very start, I hoped she would take off into the wilderness with Gale and they'd live out their days completely disassociated from Panem. They'd be there for each other, watching each other's backs, providing for one another and helping each other to move past their horrors. They'd be a team, which is what I think of when I think of a life partner. Not so much with Peeta. I don't know, he just never hooked me. Despite his being an artist and his fascinating psychosis, I never cared about him as a character. He was a fixture.

So, apart from my ramblings about not liking happy endings; apart from feeling like the epilogue told us nothing about the state of Panem and how things were changing and what sort of political system was being tried and all of the other inevitable fallout that comes with toppling a government; apart from the annoyance that all we get is "we got married and had a girl who has my hair and his eyes and a boy who has his hair and my eyes (because that is how chromosomes work) and we all lived happily ever after in the ashes of District 12", apart from feeling like an ending like that is a given in a YA lit series and didn't even need to be stated, but was implied by the exchanges between Peeta and Katniss after he returns... what my dissatisfaction comes down to is that she didn't find her happiness with Gale in the woods where I feel was the only place she ever felt truly happy. If I'm going to have to swallow a happy ending, might as well go whole hog, right?

As I tried to articulate on Twitter (though, I think I failed as far as I'm concerned, because of the limitations of the medium), I was wanting something like Frodo leaving the shores of Middle Earth. He did his part in rescuing the world from pure evil but then realized that because of the horrors he survived, he would never be able to stay in the place he rescued. So, he sort of checked out and left it up to the people who could handle that. I wanted to see some of that in Katniss. She blew her entire wad bringing down the Capitol, so why should she have anything left to give to Peeta or Gale for that matter? Honestly, why shouldn't she just go off alone in the woods? Why does she have to be with either guy? Why does she have to have kids knowing whomever is put in charge is just going to muck it up again one way or another? She said herself she could survive without either of them. That's what would happen in the real world, most likely, so why should it happen in literature that's meant as a ray of hope in a bleak and terrible world? But then a big, fat YA LIT sign smacks me in the face and says, "wake up, girl! Get with the program! Here's your unicorn, now ride it off into the sunset and be fucking happy about it!"

This is me: The chic who loved House of 1000 Corpses because at the time it was the only cheesy, gory horror flick I had seen where no one made it out alive.

Last gripe: WTF?! EVENING PRIMROSE PLANTS LOOK NOTHING LIKE ROSES! Someone who knows plants like Katniss would not have mistaken them at first glance, even if she was still half-occupying her nightmare. Very minor, nit-picky little thing, I know. But after three books of what I felt were very well thought out and well researched details, that one slipped through. Primrose is not a shrub at all, it's a leafy, perennial or biennial wildflower (depending on the type) which dies back to the ground after frost. The mistake is just not believable.

Other than that, it was a good read and I don't feel exhausted like I have with some series when I've plowed through them. I feel like I could pick up another book today and focus on it rather than still being preoccupied with the ponderings associated with this one (which is a good thing because I need to start Return of the King again to be ready for Tolkien Reading Day on the 25th). Maybe it's because the themes were so straight forward and simple and easy to swallow. Maybe it's because I've actually put my thoughts down here and can move on more easily. Don't know.

And I'm going to stop, because every time I read this over again, I find something else I left out instead of making it more concise.

Also, I chopped off about half the length of my hair on Friday. It's now at about mid-back rather than waist length and I like it a lot!

on 2011-03-07 10:02 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] padawansguide.livejournal.com
Again, the action was spot on. I've thought a bit about it and think I see a defense for using present tense in a novel such as this. After reading the first book, I really had to wrack my brain to figure out a good application for present tense but I see it right in front of me now. I think the tense, as much as the clear word usage, helped to keep things visual and kept the action from getting muddled up and confusing (even if a character was confused during the action). That said, I think it takes just the right writer to make present tense work. So, YA lit writers jumping on this present tense bandwagon: KNOCK IT OFF! unless you're really, really good at it.

THIS. I said before that I really hate present tense, and this trilogy was a rare exception, and that's I think because these books are very action heavy and you are right there with Katniss. She doesn't know what is coming next and neither do you. So it works. But this is a rare exception and this trend HAS to stop! :-)

I very much liked that both Peeta and Gale survived. I hate hate hate when they resolve love triangles by killing someone off (I'm talking to you Pearl Harbor, twice!) and thus making it "easy" for the person to choose. This was so much more complex. She genuinely loved both of them, but in the end, Gale's actions made him a non-choice. And even after that, it's not like she went right to Peeta. They had to ease into it. I thought it was well-done. Or less cliche than usual at the least?

I had no idea Prim would die, and it was like a gut punch. It's not surprising if you think about it, and "rereading" via Mark Reads, it's almost not even an author contrivance. It really seems like Coin orchestrated it, knowing what it would do to Katniss (ie, render her catatonic and out of the way). Coin sent her there (really, a 13 year old in battle?) and Coin sent the parachutes.

Also, rereading it made what Katniss does at the end so much more obvious. I didn't realize how Katniss was playing Coin with agreeing to another Hunger Games, so she could get close enough to end her. Also, on the reread Coin was so much more evil, that I can appreciate why Coin was bad news and just as bad as snow.

Hmm - I did like Peeta, and I thought he was a great compliment to Katniss. Warmth, not fire. I guess I didn't feel like he won by default, but that he gently earned her love by being what she needed. Katniss didn't need burning passion in the end, really - she needed the kind of love that is gentle and strong. Peeta really understood her too - they'd both been through hell and I think that bonded them too.

I think happiness in the woods with Gale is one of the dreams that was killed by the War, really. She could have been happy like that. But the war not only killed people, it killed possible futures, and I think that dream died with the war. And maybe Katniss once wanted that, and by the end, it just wasn't possible anymore. Not so much that she settled, but maybe both what she wanted and what was possible had changed so much.

I think her having kids was in a way a sign of her allowing herself to hope the future could be better. As a sign of faith. The future will need people to build it, and so maybe that's another piece. Teach your own kids and hope they will grow up to better the world. That's a gamble and an act of faith even in real life.

I'd be curious to see what you thought of "Tomorrow When the War Began" series by John Marsden. Don't read spoilers, though. ;-) Short summary is this: "It is a young adult invasion novel, detailing a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power. The novel is told in first person perspective by the main character, a teenage girl named Ellie Linton, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy garrison in their fictional home town of Wirrawee."

No present tense and they're really gripping and intense YA books. [livejournal.com profile] anomilygrace and I got really obsessed with them a few years ago. :-)

Also, discussing books is so much fun. Maybe moreso when you don't agree, because otherwise you're both just like "This was awesome!" "Yes!" :-)

on 2011-03-08 12:06 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/my_belle_/
Also, discussing books is so much fun. Maybe moreso when you don't agree, because otherwise you're both just like "This was awesome!" "Yes!" :-)

LOL!!! So true ;)

on 2011-03-16 01:38 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mellymell.livejournal.com
As always, I love your input here! You're absolutely right about discussing books with someone who doesn't agree completely. It's almost more satisfying, exactly as you said. :)

Peeta was probably what Katniss needed. Like you said, more of a compliment to her and certainly someone who understands what she went through in the arena. But at the same time, I'm just not believing her love for him. She cared for him, certainly. But she seemed to be always trying to settle a score with him. She felt like she owed him for basically saving her from starvation as a child and I'm not sure the feelings born out of that equal the sort of love you need to have for your life partner. If they were going to play it that way in the end, I would have liked to have seen her actually fall in love with him. Not just cut away as she's just trying to get used to him and then jump to 20 years later when they've got kids.

I read a review where someone said they thought she didn't give herself time to wrap up all her loose ends. I think that puts it better than I had been able to. I think they said exactly, "it's like she ran out of pages or chapters in order to wrap up all her loose ends." Which makes me go back to my first impression of the first book where I felt like she soars at writing action but lacks some of the same skill at world building and personal interaction that was needed after the climax. There's too steep of a cliff from Prim's death to the end. (And when I say world building, I mean mostly that third dimension that makes you really feel a place, she does a good job of giving us sensory details to help us see it, but it seems two dimensional to me.)

I will have to check out that series though! I haven't picked up anything new since finishing these, so that would be a good follow up, I bet.

on 2011-03-08 12:06 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/my_belle_/
I find it very interesting that you weren't drawn to Peeta; because I was firmly in love with him from almost moment one of his appearance, even before we knew anything about his motivations or his feelings for Katniss.

I also thing, based on following MarkReads.net and reading his thoughts on the books and how they coincide with mine, that the real story being told here is not the government/dystopia and the war and the political system but how that system affected the people, specifically Katniss. She was a pawn, in a game we were never really privy too, and she suffered horrifically. She lost so much, yet in the end was able to heal enough to move on and live her own life, finally apart from the people who had controlled her for years. Does that make sense? I think we were never going to find out any more about the war or the government then we did, because seeing it all through Katniss we were also pawns...

I don't know if I explained that very well.

I defintely agree that book 1 has a slightly separate feel and tone than the other two, but Mockingjay is so heart-breaking overall I can't call it my favorite. For YA, I think these books are quite fabulous.

I also second Maggie's suggestion to read "Tomorrow When the War Began" series. They are not nearly as well written (IMO) as The Hunger Games, but I found the story to be fun and exciting and interesting and unexpected. :)
I wasn't a big fan of the epilogue. I tend to hope it was something the publisher wanted tacked on the end, because the less obvious but still happy ending of the previous chapter wasn't good enough...or something.

on 2011-03-16 06:26 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mellymell.livejournal.com
Meh, you and I would likely never fight over the same guy then. ;) I just found him utterly uninteresting.

You explained it fine! But, I kind of don't agree, or at least I half agree.

There's enough given to you through interactions with Haymitch and later, through Boggs (who we can trust to know the inner workings of Coin's plans at least, since he was sort of her right hand man) that you can piece together that she's being manipulated from all sides. Katniss even knows it. From the moment she decides to be The Mockingjay, she knows enough to make her own demands. She's playing them somewhat as well. Giving them what they want to get close enough to get what she wants.

I believe they thought she was a pawn, right up until she fired that arrow at Coin. She did everything they expected her to, except they obviously didn't see that coming, or if anyone did, they wanted her to go through with it. At strategic points throughout the story, she chooses her own way and defies their plan for her. From the moment she pulled out those poisonous berries to the moment she agreed to Coin's Hunger Games. But even they knew she was a loose cannon and trying to manipulate her as they did was always a risk. Sometimes it seems as though they banked on her not following orders, as in District 8 when the airships came. You could tell right then that Coin half wanted her to be a martyr and half just wanted her dead so she would no longer be a threat. I mean, of all the people pissed off at her for not following orders, I don't recall Coin having much of a reaction, other than being pleased with the footage they caught of it. I think that's why Haymitch is perpetually pissed off at her for that sort of behavior. He knows she's playing right into their hands, but he can't tell her that without giving everything away. He takes some serious shit from that girl, too! ;)

I think as much as it is about her being used as a piece in the war games, just as she was in The Hunger Games before the war, it's about how she intelligently and strategically sought her independence from the the whole thing. She wasn't just bucking the whole system because then it would come crashing down on those she loved as well. She played her hand smart and close and made them comfortable, thinking they had her where they wanted her. Like Peeta said on the roof the night before the first Hunger Games: he was looking for a way to not be just a piece in a game; that even if he was going to die, he wanted to somehow show they didn't own him. Katniss, whether she's conscious of it or not, was living that wish. She had the courage, or at times the stupidity, to show her defiance time and time again. I think that's one of the main reasons Peeta is so drawn to her. She's living out the life he wished he could grab onto for himself. But it's not Peeta who pulls out the berries. It's not Peeta who darts off to the woods outside the fence of District 12 everyday. And so on...

So, just as it is a story about a dystopia and just as it is a story about how freedom will conquer oppression if it can only find its voice (and I still can't help reading about the struggles in the Middle Eastern countries right now, particularly in Libya, without an extra heavy heart, wondering how much of this horror is a reality there, especially reading reports about pro-Gadhafi forces opening fire on an ambulance, District 8 hospital bombing anyone? But I digress.) and just as it is a story about how two people who were completely manipulated and used on both sides of the conflict who survived unimaginable horrors can get on with their lives, it is also a story about how a little spark of defiance is all that is needed to ignite the flames of independence and how quickly and widely that fire can spread out of control. They use that exact metaphor all throughout the books and I simply can not think of a better one for it! Katniss' defiance, repeatedly displayed is all the Districts needed to ignite and continually fuel their uprising. It is teenage rebellion at its absolute finest because it has a real and just cause to rail against. Not bullshit like what mom won't let you wear to the mall, but serious oppression!

on 2011-03-16 06:26 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mellymell.livejournal.com
That's just my thoughts on that aspect of it. See, I could have gone on and on and on with this entry! I couldn't even fit this in one comment! ;)

It seems very plausible that you're correct on the epilogue and like you, I almost hop that was the case. It's just very detached and so incredibly short and almost doesn't even feel like the same voice.

Will definitely have to check out that series! Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts here! :)

on 2011-03-08 07:28 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] belluthien.livejournal.com
I didn't really feel Prim's death until Katniss yells at Buttercup and has her breakdown. I recognized myself in her at that moment and how I dealt with my mom's death at times when it was still fresh. Add that to the list of devices I thought made Katniss' character authentic. When you lose someone that important to you, it's often a line of thought when you think about all the little things that person isn't going to be around to do anymore that sends you over the edge. It's not one massive sense of loss, it's a million tiny ones.

That scene Really got to me, for the same reasons. I think I came close to tears there, though I did not react much when I read the scene where she dies.

I think it was a combo of this rough cat, and the little things that get us, like you say.

Haha. I hated the epilogue for similar reasoning. Lisa can't stand Peeta. I was rather indifferent, favoring Gale for a long time and then starting to think she should settle with neither. LOL.

And the roses and the primroses. I tried to picture what she implied with that, and shrugged, thinking... wtf? LOL!

Can't wait to see you again.
Hugs,
y

on 2011-03-16 06:35 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mellymell.livejournal.com
It was very authentic and well done.

Can I get a shout out for Team "I Don't Freakin' Need A Man!"? Or maybe Team "None Of The Above"? ;)

I think it was the whole Roses=President Snow and Primroses=Prim, but it failed for me because I know what each plant looks like and thought, "SHENANIGANS! Katniss would have known what they look like and known that they don't look a thing like each other!" Wtf indeed. ;)

It's funny, but when I finished the books and after your comment last time about how we thought so similarly I wanted to text you and say, "how about that epilogue? total BS, am I right?!" I somehow knew it wouldn't sit right with you, too. Yes. :)

LIKEWISE! September can't get here soon enough! Although, if I'm really honest, it can take its time if it wants. I haven't even started Celeborn's mockup. :/
*hugs* :)

on 2011-03-09 11:22 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] amaz0n-princess.livejournal.com
I do love your hair!

And AMEN on the first person present tense. SO ANNOYING! The only time I haven't minded was the hunger games.

on 2011-03-16 06:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mellymell.livejournal.com
Thanks! :)

Like I said, the first book was distracting, except when they were in the arena. But these two, I finished and then realized, "hey wait, either these were action packed enough that I didn't notice or I got used to it."

But yeah, everyone else can knock it off! ;)

Profile

mellymell: (Default)
mellymell

May 2011

S M T W T F S
123 4567
8 91011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 26th, 2017 06:32 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios