book review: catching fire & mockingjay

The two sequels to Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games are Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I’m going to talk about both of them in one post because I don’t feel like repeating myself too much and I read them right after each other. The sequels didn’t improve immeasurably on the first book. They weren’t worse, just consistent.

In Catching Fire, Katniss is living life awkwardly as a victor and then discovers she’s becoming a symbol of rebellion out in the other districts. She and Peeta go on a victory tour and people die because of her. Then the next Hunger Games start and it’s a tournament of victors. Katniss and Peeta have to go back into the arena. None of this version of the Games is as intense as the first time. It’s all described a little perfunctorily, I guess. And it turns out that Haymitch has been making plans and the book ends with Katniss being rescued from the arena by District 13, who want to start a real rebellion.

Mockingjay is about Katniss and the rebellion. She’s being turned into a symbol (with all of the makeover stuff she went through to compete in the games but this time for someone else’s propaganda) but she’s realizing how bad she is at that. Peeta’s being held by the Capital and he’s the one who could actually give good speeches. Katniss is less enthused about the regimented life in District 13. By the end the rebellion really ramps up and Katniss wonders if she’s just trading one terrible government for another.

I appreciated the choice she makes at the end of the story to cut the head off the rebellion and the Capital. In these sequels Katniss has to do worse and worse things and you feel she earns some of her angst about it all by the end.

The thing I can’t do while reading these books is think too hard about how that society is supposed to work. It’s a fairy-tale without a really firm grasp of how life might be and how this might happen. The setting is serving the story rather than being something that feels self-evident.

I think you can get away with just reading the first book in this series if you’re interested in what all the fuss is about.

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