I went to see Inglourious Basterds a couple of times this past month, and there is that scene where Eli Roth and Omar Doom are in the theater, and they dress themselves up to look like waiters and then whip around the corner and kill the two Nazi guards to some funny Ennio Morriconi ish , spaghetti western sounding music And everybody in the theater laughs, and then the film cuts to Hitler laughing, watching a movie of a Nazi soldier killing Americans It s one of those great story telling moments where I m nice and comfortable and morally superior, until I realize that actually I m exactly the same as someone I think is Evil There was a moment when I first saw Merchant of Venice that was like that, and I was depressed for a month after I read Notes from the Underground because of the same type of experience I don t know where you get that brand of story telling ability, but Suzanne Collins has it coming out of her ears, in the sort of young adult variety Catching Fire was maybe not as striking as the first book in this series, The Hunger Games, in making me disturbed about myself, but it definitely had its moments Also, I was in my second week of law school and had just gotten back from an exhausting wedding when I read it, so I might not have had the capacity to self reflect that I normally do If you don t know already, even though you should know, the premise of this series is a that in the future, post apocalyptic world of the super badass Katniss Everdeen, one rich city controls twelve poor to starving cities that produce all of the goods for the rich city In order to keep the poor cities in fear, the rich city requires each of the poor cities to send one teenage boy and one teenage girl as tributes to play the Hunger Games In the Hunger Games the kids have to kill each other until there is one survivor, who gets to party for the rest of his her life but never really feels like partying because everything s so fucked up Usually they go crazy, if they didn t start out that way It s very Lord of the Flies, and yes it is the same premise as Battle Royale, but not as determinedly nasty as those two books Also, girl action hero Anyway, a couple of days after I finished this book, I was spacing off instead of briefing cases, and I started thinking about the description of the capital city that controls the other cities There is a part where Katniss and another character have to go to a party at the capital, and there are as many amazing foods as they can imagine It s a big party, and they re celebrities, and everyone loves them They have one bite of every kind of food, so that they can taste everything, but unfortunately they get full One of their entourage explains to them that there are puke closets, so that everyone can keep eating for the whole night, and our two characters suddenly step back from the party and remember their families and neighbors, who are starving while the capital lives in decadence I was thinking about that and how the shallow people in the capital city were just as culpable for the evil in their society as the military that imposed starvation on the cities, and then, suddenly, I realized, duh, she s talking about me This story is really about the global economy, and passive, consumption driven U.S citizen that I am I m not the hero So, that s about three times this month that I ve been on the side of terrorists I don t know whether that means story tellers are gettin pretty tricky, or if it just means I think there s a problem with the way stuff is Or that, like, I m becoming a rager, or something FBI, if you re reading this, JK about this whole paragraph LOL When I was working my 8 5 job last year, I started listening to some iTunesU classes while I was doing my work so that my brain wouldn t die One of them was given by Carolyn Marvin at Stanford, and it was called True Colors Myth, Magic, and the American Flag The premise, to summarize very briefly, was that for any culture to stay together, the culture requires a blood sacrifice This article goes into detail about nationalism and blood sacrifice She really convincingly pointed out how, civilized though we think we are, blood sacrifice in modern Western culture is not really significantly different than tribal human sacrifices It s a seriously creepy theory, but I m not kidding when I say that she s right Really, listen to the lecture So, I ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks doing a mental compare contrast of the U.S with this futuristic dystopia We don t come off looking too good, guys Obviously these are really complicated topics, but nothing seems as simple as violence is not the answer or, on the other side of the argument, destroy civilization I m not positive what the right answer is, but I d like to find out I think Suzanne Collins s books should be taught in high school social studies classes, so maybe we could get some young brains working on this problem How do we effectively refuse to benefit from universally destructive and dehumanizing trade practices, but still live healthy and productive lives So, go read everything Suzanne Collins ever wrote including the episodes of Clarissa Explains It All because that show is awesome and reflect on international trade and the global economy I don t know if you ll be a better person for it, but I think so Maybe after you do all that reading you can help me figure out some way for us not to be Evil. I think I wouldn t be feeling quite so disappointed by this book if The Hunger Games hadn t been quite so close to perfect But there it is Must be hard to compete with yourself when you set the bar so high Where The Hunger Games is a tightly plotted, fast paced dystopian thriller heaped with romance and horror, this book is well, a lot of the same A WHOLE lot of the same plot Redundantly similar at points, only slower moving and far less polished Too much of the story is told rather than shown whole months can go by in just a few pages and yet the real action gets rolling about two thirds of the way through the book There were times when the story actually seemed to PLOD That said, this is an ARC and things could change Here s hoping this one sees some revision before its publication this fall Collins is obviously capable of great things And all complaints aside, this is a very compelling read Fantastic characters, and the setup is definitely there for an interesting conclusion I can t wait to find out what happens next.THAT said, marks off for deus ex machina abuse. Binge reading Me NahOk, so to refresh the memory of recent events, I watched the final Hunger Games Saturday without a clue who the fuck any of those people are I read Hunger Games 1 yesterday, and loved it Now onto book 2.Loved it too, is it any surprise It s awesome I actually know and people from the movie now So now that I ve expressed my love for the book, allow me to rant I HATE THE CASTING Not all of it, of course, but Peeta, in particular I m sure Hutcherson is a fine actor He s decent looking, that s not the point The point is he s not right for Peeta.I loved Peeta in the first book, my love for him continued in the second He s just so good So pure, so nice Self sacrificial and genuinely well meaning without being a martyr, and the on screen portrayal of him ISN T HOW I PICTURED HIM AT ALL ARRRRRRGGGGGGGG endrantLet s talk about the love triangle If you guys know me, you will know that I absolutely can t stand love triangles 99.9% of the time, they re useless They add nothing to the plot, and they re only a device used to portrayl how ULTRA FUCKING SPESHUL AND BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT AND DESIRABLE THE MARY SUE MC IS.There s a love triangle in this book, and it was perfect If a book has to have a love triangle, this is how it should be done Gale is her long time friend, almost a brother, for whom she naturally develops genuine feelings for Their relationship is based on mutual respect they take care of each other They don t underestimate one another.Peeta is a tool I don t say that in a bad way, like he s such a tool, man I mean that he is a tool for Katniss survival Their love for one another ensured their survival in the Games Despite Peeta s long time crush on Katniss, she doesn t return his feelings, and in fact, held him at arm s length, under deep suspicion until he proves himself.So yes, I approve of this motherfucking love triangle And I than approve of this book. A 82% Very Good Notes It s about futility, and dealing with the unintentional effects of compliance, pretense, decency, altruism, and kissing. Sparks are igniting.Flames are spreading.And the Capitol wants revenge.Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive Katniss should be relieved, happy even After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be Gale holds her at an icy distance Peeta has turned his back on her completely And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she s afraid she cannot stop And what scares her evenis that she s not entirely convinced she should try As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever If they can t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing herthan ever beforeand surprising readers at every turn. Sparks fly in the second volume of Suzanne Collins blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire Victory in the 74th games has not been all that sweet for surprise double victors Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark And it is extremely sour for the reigning government Katniss had shown them up big time when she publicly defied the gamemasters to keep from having to kill Peeta, an act of sedition as much as it was an act of courage and honor President Snow burns with rage at Katniss for showing up the games, the Capitol, and him personally He recognizes that it is necessary to give the subjects of his government some hope, but Katniss and Peeta have provided a spark to the tinder of popular resentment, and Snow needs to forestall a conflagration.The author Katniss is not in a good place back in District 12 after the games Yeah, she has a nifty new house in the victor village, and her family is well taken care of, but she is experiencing a fair bit of PTSD Collins describes Kat the victor She has nightmares She has flashbacks And in the beginning you can see she s practicing avoidance She s completely pushed Peeta to arm s length, you know She s trying to stay away from him Why Because everything associated with him except some very early childhood memories are associated with the Games She s conflicted to some degree about her relationship with Prim because she couldn t save Rue So she s dealing with all that, and her method of dealing with it is to go to the woods and be alone and keep all of that as far away as possible, because there just are so many triggers in her everyday life from the Time interview Part of the requirement for games winners is to go on a Victory Tour across all the districts One of the soft spots in the logic of the story is that President Snow would think for a second that parading across the defeated districts the youngsters who had killed their children was anything but a guaranteed recipe for disaster It is believed that Katniss popularity and selling the lie of her death defying love for Peeta would gain some love for the Capitol, and would dampen public unrest Sure, whatever Of course, Katniss manages to fan the flames of the people s unhappiness with things as they are by her acts of kindness and respect for some of her fallen competitors and their families As her popularity grows, the pin she wore in the 74th games, the mockingjay, spreads as a symbol of resistance I am sure Emily Dickenson would approve Time for Plan B.With his hopes for a palliative Victory Tour in ashes, Snow come up with another plan How better to douse the embers of hope than to destroy all those who would fan the flame So, for the 75th games, instead of a new crop of potential contestants, children between 12 and 18, from whom game contestants might be selected, he decrees that this time the tributes those selected will be chosen from the pool of prior winners Hell uh oh, Kat and Peet, this means you oo Hell hath no fury like a president scorned There is no law, only power, and Snow aims to char those caught, or even suspected, of playing with matches And if crushing the Hunger Games victors from all twelve districts crushes the rebellious spirit of the people, well, may the odds be ever in your favor Of course, we all know there is a third volume in the series, so I am giving nothing up by reporting that the plan goes up in smoke.There are many notions in play in Catching Fire, among them visions from the classical world of Greece and Rome The whole notion of the games was taken from the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur King Minos of Crete had issues with Athens There are varying accounts of how this came to be, but the accounts agree on the arrangement that was made Athens was forced to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every nine years to make a nice snack for a Minotaur, who resided in a labyrinth constructed by Daedelus The kids are sent, but Theseus, an Athenian prince, wanted to get rid of the Minotaur, and thus the need for kid burger specials, and so inserts himself in place of one of the young uns He gets some help from Cretan princess Ariadne, who offers a way for the children to escape the Minotaur s maze after Theseus, hopefully, dispatches the beast Her solution is significant here, beyond the classic story, as the unraveling of string, of a sort, figures large in Catching Fire in helping out the tributes.Katniss Everdeen grew from a raw teen in Book I to become a warrior She grows stronger still in Book II, overcoming her fears and miseries, growing in strength, even while accepting that her fate was likely sealed She is a gladiator, thrown into an arena to do battle for the pleasure and control of the rulers And another classical notion comes in here, the slave warrior leading a rebellion Katniss, by defying the Capitol in Book I and by her actions this time, has become the face of popular resistance, whether potential or kinetic.There are contemporary issues that resonate as well Collins said The Hunger Games is a reality television program An extreme one, but that s what it is And while I think some of those shows can succeed on different levels, there s also the voyeuristic thrill, watching people being humiliated or brought to tears or suffering physically And that s what I find very disturbing There s this potential for desensitizing the audience so that when they see real tragedy playing out on the news, it doesn t have the impact it should It all just blurs into one program from Scholastic article And it is not exactly news that we are increasingly living in a world in which the one percenters get to live lives of obscene luxury while working people are denied basic rights The ancient Roman practice of eating to excess, then using a vomitorium to make room for even indulgence is brought up in Collins vision as a very telling link between decadence old and new And then there is the romantic element Peeta is a wonderful guy, pure soul, gifted communicator, smart, strong as an ox, loves her, but, while she may find him attractive as a friend, does she find him attractive enough to throw over her childhood sweetheart, Gale The pressure is unspeakable as the President, in order to save his own face, is insisting that she and Peeta make good on their cover story from their first game together At the end of the 74th, Katniss had threatened pairs suicide if the rulers insisted on having a single winner, and she prevailed But the Capitol sold it as a manifestation of her love for Peeta, while the reality had been that she had stood up against the Capitol rulers She agreed to help sell the lie after the games in order to keep bad things from happening to her family Peeta and Katniss have to cope with the public lie of their being a couple, but must also contend with the fact that they really are very fond of each other Add in another hottie in the shape of the studly Finnick Odair a tribute in the 75th and the potential for emotional imbalance is considerable.Some of Collins secondary characters get to spread their wings a bit, most particularly the District 12 mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, who gets to do a lot but much of his activity is told after the fact rather than shown The president, Coriolanus Snow, gets to strut and fret his hour upon the stage, issuing threats mostly I expect it is no accident that the president s given name is the same as that of a Roman consul notorious for his low opinion of the ruled Ok, I really enjoyed this book I do have one gripe, though Really, you knew there would have to be one The Hunger Games story is really one long tale, and in order to keep from having to sell the book with its own set of wheels so you can tote it around, the publisher has divided it, like all Gaul, into three parts Unlike the greedy film makers who took it a step further and made four films out of a trilogy And while it may make sense for this volume to have ended where it did, it seemed to me that it went from full on action to see ya next time in an awful hurry That s it That s my gripe I had originally intended to make this a four star rating, but on further consideration, in light of what Collins has done in terms of looking at real issues in a serious way, while offering top notch entertainment, bringing in cultural foundations, and for making me root for a teenager to do something other than get a bad case of zits or run afoul of a serial killer, I am upping it to five Catching Fire sizzles EXTRA STUFFAn excellent cheat sheet to catch you up on what happened in the first bookAn interview on Scholastic.comNeat bit on Theseus and the Minotaur in an SC interview in the School Library Journal The five part Time interview Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 SC s site Warning SPOILERS AHEADWell, kind of No plot spoilers, just image spoilers.Don t read on if you do not want to see images of the actors cast in the upcoming Hunger Games movies.I am officially designating this review as my update central for casting on the Hunger Games As new characters are cast, I will post the actor s pictures here along with the images I find that imitate how they might look as the character they will be playing.LATEST UPDATES ON CASTINGWOWZA The best photoshopped pic I have seen of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss So we officially have our Peeta Okay, I just want to say that, while Josh is not what I had pictured, I trust those in charge And Suzanne Collins gave her approval, so that in itself speaks volumes Bottom line is Josh is workable As long as they work with him to LOOK the part, and give him the eyes and most importantly the hair, I think he could be good.And our Gale A little too pretty for my image of Gale I also didn t picture Gale so beefy but instead trim and slim Although for me, I was never too concerned with this role anyway Gale never stood out to me as much as Peeta did in these books, so I would have been fine with nearly any choice Once again, as long as they work their studio magic on his looks, he should do just fine.Willow Shields as PRIMROSE EVERDEENPaula Malcomson of SyFy s Caprica as Mrs Everdeen image error I can t review this without being spoilery, so1 AAAAAAAAAAAAAH2 The one thing I didn t like about this book is the part where Katniss finds out she has to go back to the Hunger Games I think there should have been of a pause there for disbelief, for Katniss maybe trying to think of ways out of it, ways to kill herself even The book started moving at a really fast pace after that point, with Katniss and Peeta preparing for the next Games, and I was like wait, what hang on a minute It was hard for me to believe that Katniss would willingly go back to the arena, at least not without major depression One night of drinking didn t seem to cover it.3 Everything else awesome The mockingjay imagery The clock arena The rebellion President Snow being creepy as fuck HIS BREATH SMELLS LIKE BLOOOOOOD 4 As soon as Wiress and Beetee started talking about the chink in the force field s armor, I knew the answer to the Games was BRING DOWN THE FORCE FIELD I was yelling and yelling at them to do it, and then finally they did, and I was like YES 5 I find the love triangle a little annoying but mostly interesting Katniss doesn t really know how she feels about either of them, because she doesn t have the freedom to feel on her own terms I like that she has some makeout time on the beach with Peeta, though.6 This series is reminding me and of Scott Westerfeld s Uglies series The evil oppressive government, the secret rebellion, the possibly mythical place for them to escape to The Smoke District 13 , hovercrafts, face tattoos, genetically modified plants animals I was hoping it d go that way when I first read The Hunger Games I was like, this government needs to be overthrown, Tally Youngblood style.7 This is why we don t let you make plans HA 8 AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH WHEN IS BOOK THREE COMING OUT Oh, snap She DID NOT just do that This is not a cliffhanger people, this is inhumane Like hanging on for dear life by a spider web thin thread totally butt naked you know that makes it worse It s so worth it though Quick overview Catching Fire starts up not far from where The Hunger Games ended Katniss is living in the Victors Village with her family You d think she could finally be able to relax and live the cushy life Well that wouldn t make a good book There are rumors of rebellion and since Katniss and Peeta won the Hunger Games in defiance they have become the faces of that rebellion The Capitol, particularly President Snow, is not happy with them Now Katniss has to worry about looking as in love with Peeta as possible to quiet down the rebellion, but is that what she really wants It s really hard to summarize a book when you re afraid that everything you say will give away the twist If you have not read the book DON T read a whole bunch of reviews or comments You ll figure stuff out Figuring out what s going on and the twists is part of what makes this so good You think you ve got everything and everyone pegged only to find out that you only got half if any of it right I wasn t sure what the second book was going to be about but now looking back I think Of course How else would it have worked The book starts off a little slow, but it s important for what Collins is trying to set up I love Katniss and I hate her She frustrates me beyond belief, but you have to love her I love how you see and know everything from Katniss s point of view You re just as confused and unsure as she is It never feels like she s not a real person You feel just as scared for her family You feel her confusion and doubt You just really feel I could probably name off a bunch of things that bothered me about the book I think I mentioned how I HAAAATE love triangles with a burning passion but you really care about the characters You can t even hate Katniss s team of stylists, who are selfish Capitol dwellers The book deals with so much than who she s going to end up with At first I really didn t want to read it because I know how I am with these books I get totally immersed, constantly trying to figure it all out I can t believe the twists in this book The ending is just so epic How everything just falls into place and makes sense You see the characters in a whole new light And then you re left with the whole butt naked spider thread thing I m pretty sure it s not good for my health, but they say the same thing about oreos and fried chicken So what do you read after a book like this Well, you could look for a book that s just as addictive and gripping as this Yeah, good luck with that , or read a book about kittens chasing after butterflies in a open meadow Then you ll probably start thinking that there is a secret underground society of kitties just waiting for the right moment to emerge, and you find out that the butterflies are their spies You see, this is the type of thinking you have after reading the book It s beyond epic Until the third book finally comes out I ll be hanging butt naked by a spider thin thread. I have to say this book is much than a step up from the first book I thought the first book was ok at best but this book it better on an epic scale If you are reading this I am assuming you have read the first book.Katniss Peeta Controversially win the 74th Hunger games Controversially because there is only supposed to be one winner of the games, but these two choose to kill themselves rather than kill each other This act of defiance is the spark for a revolution The evil President Snow Leader of the Capital , tells Katness to either smother out this spark before it ignites, or people close to her will be killed.The revolution starts small and cases small disruptions in the capital, and ends up with the Peacekeepers Capital police force , becoming brutal in all districts including District 12 This time the Hunger Games is the Quarter Quell celebrating 25 years of the game , which allow special stipulations in the games Can Katness defy the Capital again This book is less action packed then the first but a lot emotional Katniss is herself in this book rather surly, bad tempered, emotional Peeta is her polar opposite likable by everyone, managing to rally everyone with his words I think Katniss even admits he would be a better revolution leader then she ever wood so she is determined to martyr herself so he can live.