The Hunger Games

My thoughts on Catching Fire

catching fireI loved Catching Fire, the movie. A lot more than I did the book. Which is unusual.

My major complaint with the book was that it seemed to repeat the same story and themes as the Hunger Games (the first book in the trilogy). It suffered from a lack in progression of the overall story arc. Katniss goes back into the arena to fight for her life. Yeah, whatever.

The movie sticks really close to the novel as I remember it — except for some reason I liked it a whole heap more. Maybe this was because I already knew what the story was and had accepted it. Or maybe it’s because the movie highlighted all the differences really well. Not sure.

For those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, I’ll summarise the basic plot:

It’s set in the future dystopian nation of Panem, which comprises 12 oppressed ‘districts’ and a central dissipated ‘capital’. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Malark, winners of the recent Hunger Games (a barbaric reality TV show in which children from each district are annually forced to fight each other to the death), are trying to integrate back into their lives in district 12. But Katniss has attracted the attention of the not-so-nice President Snow, who sees her as a trouble-maker, and resolves to eradicate her and other past winners by sending them back into the arena…

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is fabulous. The rest of the cast is great too, but she truly shines — no surprises she’s one of the youngest ever Oscar winners (for Silver Linings Playbook earlier this year). 

Whereas The Hunger Games introduces you to this horrible world, Catching Fire does a lot more to show the brutality and oppression of the districts, thereby paving the way for the rebellion that is to follow. Because the movie broadens the viewpoint (the book is limited to Katniss’s first person narrative), the viewer is granted a deal more insight into the overall situation — especially President Snow’s scheming and the desperate plotting of a small rebel group. Somehow the ins and outs of the plot are a whole lot clearer in the movie.

The movie is beautiful to look at and exciting. The costumes are vivid (and they wear some truly wacky outfits in the capital), and each of Katniss’s show costumes are stunning (after all, it is a reality TV show!). Definitely many thumbs up from me!

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Today’s blog theme is ‘which holiday movie do you love this year and why’. Catching Fire is the only recent film I’ve seen, so it’s a good thing I loved it! I’ll post links to other contributions as they come up.

Also, check out this far more thorough (and a little spoilerific) post from Siri Paulson on Catching Fire – book versus movie.

What I read in 2012

I ‘read’ something like 30 books in 2012 (as far as I can remember). This isn’t a huge total, but it’s quite a few more than I suspected. ‘Not reading’ was one of my huge frustrations last year — I couldn’t seem to fit it in!

Thank all the gods for audiobooks. Around two-thirds of the books I enjoyed last year were played to me in the car during my horrible work commute. This completely justifies my car-purchasing criterion of a USB media input for the car stereo system. Without audiobooks, I would have been tearing my hair out.

So what did I read?

In the car:

Robin Hobb marathon (8) — A friend lent me the audiobooks of pretty much all Robin Hobb’s works and I listened to The Liveship Traders trilogy, the first two of the Rain Wild Chronicles, and the complete Soldier Son trilogy. My favourites are definitely the Liveship books, but the Soldier Son books included some very interesting aspects… I always intended to blog about them but never got around to it.

Two by Kate Morton (2) — This year I listened to The Shifting Fog and The Distant Hours. I enjoyed both these modern/historical sprawling tales in Morton’s unique style, but not as much as The Forgotten Garden, which I loved a few years ago.

Several by Jasper Fforde (4) — I’ve just completed the first four of the Thursday Next books. The first, The Eyre Affair, is the best by a long way. These are not my usual reading, but they’ve been some light entertainment in the car.

Several by Kerry Greenwood (~4) — I’ve listened to about four of the Phryne Fisher 1920s detective novels. These are a lot of fun, and a fascinating view of Melbourne in the 1920s.

1984 (1) — I had never actually read George Orwell’s 1984, sad but true. I think it’s one of those books whose magnificence is revealed by the time you finish it. I’m not sure I liked it, but I appreciated it for sure.

That’s 19 audiobooks (at least)

In paperback:

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (3) — I had to read these to see what all the fuss was about, and enjoyed the first one in particular. They are very well written, although probably a bit grim and dark for my usual tastes. (Please NOTE: There are some other books I have not read, despite all the hype…)

Necklace of the Gods (aka Eona) by Alison Goodman (1) — I have just now completed the stunning sequel to The Two Pearls of Wisdom (aka Eon), after attending the launch nearly two years ago. This is writing and plotting and storytelling I can only aspire to… I might have to focus on this duology in some more depth at a later date.

Two Nightrunner novels by Lynn Flewelling (2) — I have a soft spot for this fantasy series, although I don’t think the later ones (The White Road and Casket of Souls) match the first three. Nonetheless, a good fantasy romp in a traditional style.

That’s a mere 6 paperbacks! I can’t think of any others…

On the kindle:

My kindle reading hasn’t been too much more voluminous, and has consisted mainly of a few releases by some of my online WANA buddies (once again, I haven’t gotten around to posting about any of them yet…). The most notable are:

Wicked Sense by Fabio Bueno — This is a YA paranormal, which is evidently selling VERY well indeed.

A Vampire’s Deadly Delight by Liv Rancourt — A novella about a woman who harbours a vampire-slaying superhero within. Very entertaining and original.

The Love of her Lives by Sharon Clare — Sharon’s first paranormal romance publication.

In addition to the above:

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott — I was a beta reader early this year for this recently released novel by my very good friend. It’s a modern gothic fairy tale about two sisters and their not-so-imaginary friend. The prose is lyrical and this fairy tale goes to a very dark place (as do most of Kirstyn”s works). I hope to have Kirstyn on the blog in a few weeks to tell you more about it.

Forever and Ever, Amen by Liv Rancourt — I was lucky enough to score an advanced readers copy of Liv’s forthcoming paranormal romance publication. I will post more detailed thoughts closer to its release date!

That’s another 5 on the kindle, plus possibly a few more…

I’m not especially happy with this tally, especially as there are so few recent releases on there. And especially given how few I actually read as words on the ‘page’… PATHETIC!

One of my missions for 2013 is to allocate more dedicated time for reading the old fashioned way (and here I count the kindle!). I’m not going to set myself a target number, but I would like to get back into the habit of reading in the evenings.

After all, reading is one of the cornerstones of being able to write well.

Moreover, I have this PILE of paper backs I want to read… actually, multiple piles. And then there are all the titles I wrote down throughout the year as other bloggers wrote posts or answered questions — on this blog or theirs — about their favourite books. Aaargh!

Of course, there is the risk that I commence reading at around 11pm and then find myself propping my eyes open with toothpicks at 2 or 3am… As has been happening this week. Somehow I need to find a happy medium.

How did everyone else go with their reading this year?