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 2011-03-16 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! :)

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