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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 9 April 2016

"Catching Fire: Hunger Games 2" by Suzanne Collins

Ironically, this took a little longer to catch fire than HG 1. Katniss and Peeta are back in District 12 but Preseident Snow is angry that Katniss defied the Hunger Games and fears that she could be the spark that sets alight the rebellion. She has to maintain the pretence that she is madly in love with Peeta, to the point of arranging their marriage, despite the obviously jealousy of boy-back-home Gale.

There is a reflection on the jabberjays, birds who were bred to listen to what people said and then to fly home and repeat the words, birds bred to be spies, surveillance devices. But people cottoned on and began to lie to the birds and the Capital released them into the wild, assuming that highly bred birds would die out there. But they didn't. They interbred with other birds to create the Mockingjay. The Capital "hadn't anticipated its will to live" (p 105). The mockingjay becomes a symbol of the simmering revolution.

And this is what makes this saga leap above other thrillers. It is actually about relationships and moral choices. After Gale has been flogged for poaching and is unconscious, Katniss touches his face the "parts of him I have never had cause to touch before": his eyebrows, his stubble, his throat, his lips. She imagines how she would feel had he been the one who had won the Games by pretending to be in love with a fellow tribute. She hates him. Then the girl who has been so immensely brave in the arena thinks (p 134)
Why did it take him being whipped within an inch of his life to see it?
Because I'm selfish. I'm a coward. I'm the kind of girl who, when she might actually be of use, would run to stay alive and leave those who couldn't follow to suffer and die. This is the girl who Gale met in the woods today. 
No wonder I won the Games. No decent person ever does.
This is morality. This is what makes HG good.

But rebellion is brewing and Katniss has become a symbol of it. So when she and Peeta are forced back into the arena for the 75th games she is now determine to protect him and he is determined to protect her. But there are others who also seem determined to protect them, even at the risk of their own lives.

Another excellent book made special by the issues of trust, brought even more to the fore in a rebellion when strangers will die for you but friedns might betray you.

April 2016; 439 pages

Hunger Games 1 is a well written thriller for young people.
But Mockingjay (HG3) fails to keep the human and moral issues going and degenerates into a shoot 'em up

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