Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Epic Reading List Updated: Catching Fire

List Update as of February 10th

1. 'The Hunger Games' -Suzanne Collins
2. 'Alanna the First Adventure' -Tamora Pierce
3. 'Anna Dressed in Blood' -Kendare Blake
4. 'In the Hand of the Goddess' -Tamora Pierce
5. 'Graceling' -Kristin Cashore
6. 'The Woman Who Rides Like a Man' -Tamora Pierce
7. 'The Name of the Star' -Maureen Johnson
8. 'Lioness Rampant' -Tamora Pierce
9. 'Tale of Two Cities' -Charles Dickens
10. 'Wild Magic' -Tamora Pierce
11. 'Catching Fire' -Suzanne Collins

12. 'Wolf Speaker' -Tamora Pierce
13. 'Matched' -Ally Condie
14. 'Emperor Mage' -Tamora Pierce
15. 'Divergent' -Veronica Roth
16. 'The Realm of the Gods' -Tamora Pierce

I had intended to pace myself while reading Catching Fire. Mostly because I heard that as soon as I finished I would feel an undivided need for Mockingjay. This was a ridiculous plan and I abandoned it without a second thought.



Before I started Catching Fire I reread chunks of The Hunger Games. Not because I'd forgotten them but because I wanted to go into Catching Fire with that feeling I had while reading The Hunger Games. And it worked. I went into the book already on the edge of my seat. Clearly there were more books so the story wasn't over. How much trouble was she in? Would she work things out with Peeta? How did my sister like Gale so much better? The book answered all of these questions and shoved a whole ton more at me.

First, I never thought they were going to shove her back into the arena. I feel a little silly about that now but I,like Katniss, had assumed that she was quite finished with her time attempting to kill people, thank you kindly. I swore out loud when President Snow read the Quell card. And the arena! Oh dear Lords it was fantastic and brilliant and absolutely horrifying. I kept trying to put pieces together and then something would scatter them again. I loved every second of it.

Which brings me to something else I loved. Finnick. I LOVE Finnick. I loved Finnick from his first scene. My tweet about him (that I posted at work hours after I read his brief introduction) actually read:

"Having only met Finnick for a grand total of like two pages, I imagine I would have taken a sugar cube and told that man all of my secrets."

Yes, I loved him that hard immediately. He's my age, apparently gorgeous, has sea green eyes, the first time we meet him he's wearing nothing but a gold net, and fights with a TRIDENT. I say again, a TRIDENT! I would be one of the many who fawned all over him, undoubtedly.
Beyond that, I loved him only more as the games continued. Collins gave him a depth and brilliance with a care that she hadn't really taken the time to bestow upon a secondary character in a while. Not since Rue, I don't think. and I fell even more in love with him.

Now to address a couple of my questions. Oh, Katniss was in a world of trouble. I think the best thing about the trouble she started with the Capitol is that she is so unaware of it. Her two big acts of rebellion in The Hunger Games were subconsciously done for the most part. She was doing what she felt was right, honoring Rue, and going down with Peeta instead of taking him down. But the consequences are immense. President Snow is gunning for her and she has become the symbol of a revolution that has spread like wildfire without her knowledge. But she really opens up to it in Catching Fire and rises to the challenge, prompted and directed by those around her. With that we see just how defiant the people around her are (The wedding turned mockingjay dress? Gorgeous)
Collins chooses some of the most effective images to show how bad things have gotten. The whistling man in District 11 being executed beside the justice building, Twill and Bonnie hiding in the woods, Gale being whipped in the square. They're horrific without being unbelievable. And the strongest part of them is how Katniss comes across them, oblivious to what is happening each time.

Next I'm going to tackle the Gale thing. I get it more now. My sister kept telling my how much she loved him while I was reading the first one. I argued and said that Peeta was much better and that we barely met Gale at all, how could I love him? She claims to have loved him from the start. I think he's alright. I got a much better sense of his relationship with Katniss here. It came off a little at the end of The Hunger Games when she's worried about his reaction as she's on the train home but how it effected them really shows here.
I like Gale as a character, I don't see the depth that Rue or Finnick have but he's not completely one dimensional. He's defining character trait is his rebellious nature. What we see through Katniss in terms of Gale is that despite his rebellion he's steady. He works hard and takes care of his family. Gale is a symbol of the life she used to have. Hunting in the woods and struggling. As much as he refuses to leave in favor of spawning a rebellion in District 12 I'm not sure he would know what to do with the freedom he would gain but I shall see.

That being said, I am still a Peeta fan. I feel like he is far more a symbol of change for Katniss. (Though I've had hints dropped about both guys pertaining to Mockingjay and I'm apprehensive about the whole thing). He has a lightness and a hope in him that brings it out in her and counterbalances the practicality and despair in Katniss. The flat earnestness in which speaks of his feelings for her is telling in how well he knows her. She won't get it unless he just says it and he knows that so he reminds her and just wants her to know how important she is. (A method I feel like Gale uses later in a different way)
He in enigmatic and thinks fast on his feet. Admittedly I started choking when the pregnancy thing came up in his interview. Peeta is clever. I was excited to see him stand up to Katniss and Haymich about keeping him in the dark. It was that bit of spine he needed.
My favorite Peeta moment has to be when he explains why he painted the picture of Rue for the gamemakers. It's just such a brilliant thought and it really brings something out in Katniss. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen but she needs to figure herself out before she entangles either of these poor boys any further.

Catching Fire is paced fantastically. Things are slow when they should be and pick up when the Quell starts like they should. Pacing is something Collins has down to an art.

I'm still riding the adrenaline buzz and can't really think of too much criticism right now. Perhaps with some distance. I just can't wait until I get to read Mockingjay (despite my fear from all the warnings) but really don't want it to end. More Finnick!

Overall Rating: Beyond Epic

Perhaps more reactions tomorrow.

Next book is the next in Tamora Pierce's The Immortals quartet: Wolf Speaker.

Later my lovelies,
-A.M.Y-A

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