Backstory Book Reviews: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

I joined the Happy Hour Book Club (HHBC) in one of those moments when I convince myself that I HAVE to get out and meet more people, expand my horizons and circles. It was also around the same time I committed to reading two books a month.

I didn’t know that Megan, my playfully grumpy coworker, was also a member of the HHBC. She admitted that she hadn’t been to a meeting in a while and since I joined, she’d start going. Needless to say I haven’t been to a meeting yet, but read most of the books and she’s been to the meetings, but hasn’t read the books. Between us, we make a full member.

The Hunger Games trilogy were three recently assigned books. I was number 971 on the library request list, so the odds of me actually reading all three books before the book club were impossible. I read The Hunger Games and liked it and not being THAT kind of quitter, I decided I would finish all three books. The bump in the plan of course is I’m number 971 on the waiting list for Catching Fire and 473 for Mockingjay. Yeah….

In comes Megan, the bearer of book gifts. She has both Catching Fire and Mockingjay. She also inadvertently gives me a challenge: It took her a week to read Catching Fire and a couple months to finish Mockingjay. I decide to read both books in one week and finish in less than five days. I actually read Mockingjay in one day. Call me competitive.

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
 

Catching Fire starts with Katniss and Peeta back in District 12, reaping the benefits of winning the 74th Hunger Games. For her defiance though, Katniss has roused President Snow’s hatred and he has planned for her death. Rebellion is brimming and her last defiant act in the Hunger Games tips the balance. To retaliate, President Snow announces in the Quarter Quell, celebrated every 25 years, that this year’s Hunger Games tributes will be picked from existing winners. Being the only female tribute to ever win from District 12, she is forced to go. She, Peeta and Haymitch find themselves, once again, in the Capitol. Haymitch and Katniss decide that Peeta will be the victor to go home. What neither Katniss nor Peeta know is that they are the faces of the rebellion. At the end of the book, Katniss is rescued during a plan to disable the arena’s force field and Peeta is captured and sent to the Capitol.

In Mockingjay, we find that District 13 exists and is the leader of the rebellion, District 12 has been annihilated and Peeta has been reprogrammed to kill Katniss. It details the revolution, overthrow of Panem’s current leadership structure and a new beginning for the country.

I enjoyed both books and am glad I finished the trilogy. While reading, I was sure I figured out what was going on, only to realize that some things were not as they seemed, particularly in Mockingjay. Collins does a good job weaving the story and keeping me engaged. Some small details from The Hunger Games begin to make sense as I read Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Without bogging the reader down with too much information about the characters, I have an understanding of what makes them who they are. I particularly enjoy that Collins matures Katniss in the books, taking into account all that she’s been through and, once again, make me realistically believe in her character.

The same reason I like the trilogy is the main reason I won’t give it five stars. I would have liked a little more exploration about President Coin and District 13. Because of the large role they play in Mockingjay, a lot is left to my imagination about both the woman and district. If you like non-stop action, Mockingjay may be hard to read. A lot of it is about the events that lead up to the final showdown in the Capitol.

I recommend both books, but as part of the whole trilogy. I think it would be a disservice not to read all three. I also don’t recommend it for younger kids. Otherwise, get on the Hunger Games bandwagon.

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