My Feels for The Hunger Games Are REAL: My THG Reread & Mockingjay Part 2 Review

*Warning: Spoilers!*

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I’m really glad I decided to pick up this series again in preparation for the last movie (so sad!). When I read the trilogy for the first time in 2012, none of the movies had come out yet (though they had been cast). My only spoiler was that I had heard one of the male characters died, and I was so worried the whole time it was going to be Peeta (I realized later the reference was to Finnick). I adored him and wanted what was best for him, so I spent all of Mockingjay SO STRESSED. But this time, I was able to appreciate Katniss’ journey even more (though I liked her a lot in my first read too, obviously, since I named my blog after her)..

The first read of the series, for me, was all about the characters. This second time around, it was about the overall story, particularly its themes of war and PTSD.

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In my initial read, The Hunger Games was my favorite read of the trilogy. After rereading, I think Catching Fire might actually be my new favorite, but I will not deny that this is most likely influenced by the movie, as it is also my favorite of the movies (which I can say for certain now that I have seen Mockingjay Part Two). The nice thing about Catching Fire is that we already know the main characters and the world, but we get some new secondary characters and we delve deeper into what leads to the rebellion. Also, Katniss’s interactions with Peeta are more genuine.

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The first time I read Mockingjay, I pretty much hated it until the last page before the epilogue. The pacing seemed off and I was so concerned about poor Peeta’s state. This time, I was more relaxed and able to appreciate the book more, but at the end I was amazed that despite the fact that Katniss and Peeta end up together and even have a family, the whole thing still feels downright tragic. Not in a hopeless way, otherwise I wouldn’t care for these books the same way, but she loses her sister, her mother, her best friend, basically loses her mentor, and several others in her life – some through death and some due to purposeful distance (or in the case of Haymitch, he continues to lose himself to the bottle). No one comes out of this in good shape, and that’s scary. But sometimes, that’s real life. But we see that good can still come out of it.

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I know not everyone loved the first Mockingjay movie, but I have a deep appreciation for it, and my feelings are the same for the second one. They’re hard movies because we see Katniss struggling so much, see the dirty underbelly of war, see the horrors of manipulation and PTSD. And I appreciated some of the changes they made in the films, few as they were.

In the final Mockingjay installment, we get a little more closure with Effie. Haymitch seems to be in at least a slighter better state than he did in the book. And in the scene where Katniss asks Gale about the bombs, you know with certainty when she says, “Goodbye Gale,” she means goodbye forever. That hit me much harder than his sudden disappearance in the book.

And after everything has gone down and she returns to Twelve, we get the scene with Buttercup and then we see little flashes of her starting her life over again. I actually would have liked more of this, but the movie was already bordering on too long of an ending (due to staying faithful to the book in so many ways, I might add) so I forgive it. Katniss hunts, Peeta returns, and they start to spend time together. And at the very end they have apparently ended up in the same house, because she leaves her bed to come into his room to crawl into bed with him. I was a little sad we didn’t get one more kiss when she finally admits she loves him, but it was sweet nonetheless.

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Neither the books nor the movies pulled any punches, but I think that is a large reason why this is a story that will continue to endure. It carries themes and warnings that we can all take to heart.

What are your thoughts on the last Hunger Games movie, or the books and movies in general?

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Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Hunger Games

*Warning: Hunger Games trilogy spoilers below! But seriously, who hasn’t read these books yet?

I thought it might be fun to try creating themed wedding ideas based off of books, and how the main character’s wedding might look with our modern sensibilities, and thus, Bookish Wedding Inspiration was born! First I did Tiger Lily, and then The Grisha Trilogy (and Leigh Bardugo herself liked it on Tumblr! WHAT WHAT!), but today’s post is actually what I was inspired to do first, which is a wedding for Katniss and Peeta! I’ve collected so many pictures for this and I’m happy to finally share them with you all!

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Bridal Look

The Dress

HG-bridal-gown-wtoo-vanessaLook guys, I can’t beat Cinna’s dress That’s probably what Katniss would really wear, or something simple. But if Katniss went dress shopping today, I think she might like this Watters gown. Flowers really play a big theme in the trilogy and they are something Katniss values, and while this is very nice dress, it’s also simplistic enough, not too frilly.

The Hair

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Obviously a braid must be involved, and I just love this style.

The Accessories

I came up with quite a few ideas for accessories, and I certainly don’t think Katniss would implement all these at once, but here are some various options!

The Locket

HG-locketsLike the locket Peeta gave Katniss in Catching Fire, Katniss might want to have a locket with pictures of her her dad and Prim on the inside, to have them close to her on her special day. She might want to wear a locket (like this one with a Mockingjay pendant) or have one wrapped around her bouquet.

The Arrow

HG-arrowsObviously the arrow is important to Katniss, and there are many jewelry options, from bracelets (pictured, not pictured) to necklaces that can reflect this! Understandably, she might not choose this for her wedding day because it might remind her of the violence she endured, but I still really wanted to share these fun arrow accessories. (Fun fact: Black Widow wears this arrow necklace in Captain America: Winter Soldier!)

The Pearl

HG-single-pearl-necklaceAnd of course, who can forget the single black pearl that Peeta found in the second arena and gave to Katniss, and that she hung on to when she had lost him? This single black pearl on a strand would be a perfect symbol of their love.

The Bouquet

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This bouquet goes along with the colors I had in mind for Katniss’ wedding: earthy colors with some orange (Peeta’s favorite) mixed in.

The Groom

HG-groom-lookI collected a few images that I thought could reflect a good groom’s look for Peeta, including cute bow and arrow cufflinks!

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The Portraits

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The Location

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I thought a wedding in the woods would be fitting, and isn’t this tree dynamic? It stands well on its own, or they could have a backdrop like so…

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The Food & Cake

HG-table-settingImage source for table spread and table setting with quote

Obviously, there would be bread. And hot chocolate (though it’s not pictured). I don’t think there would actually be Peeta quotes lying around, but I still wanted to include the picture. And of course, CAKE.

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Hope you enjoyed The Hunger Games edition of Bookish Wedding Inspiration! What would you expect from Katniss and Peeta’s wedding?

The Top 10 Things on my Bookish Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List. According to the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish, this may include things like meeting authors, reading x many books per year, finishing a daunting book, etc. This week’s list is in no particular order.

1. Meet Marissa Meyer

marissa-meyerThere are several authors I like and would enjoy meeting. But since Marissa Meyer is really becoming my favorite “current” author, I’d have to say she’s the author I’d definitely geek out/fangirl over the most if I had the chance to meet her, and I really hope to have the opportunity some day!

2. Visit a Hunger Games filming location

HenryRiver4When my husband and I went to Asheville last year, I looked into tours that took you around the District 12 village that was set up for The Hunger Games movie. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t going to work out for that trip, but since both the Asheville area (where they shot the first movie) and Atlanta (where they shot a lot of Catching Fire) are both very attainable drives for us, I hope I can visit some of these set locations sometime.

3. Finish Les Miserables… preferably this year

les-miserables-bookI started reading Les Miserables at the beginning of the year with the intention of reading small snippets at a time, hopefully finishing it by the end of the year. Well, I am reading it, and I do think it’s very good, but it’s hard to for me to read too many chapters in one sitting because of the way it’s written. And let’s just say at my current pace I am not set to finish by the end of the year. But maybe I can pick things up. Or maybe I’ll finish next year…

4. Read Harry Potter

harry-potter-seriesYes, I know. We’ve already discussed this. Let’s move on.

5. Read Lord of the Rings

LOTR111I’m crazy intimidated by this classic trilogy, but I want to read it.

6. Become a Published Author

snoopy-writerMy ULTIMATE bookish goal!

7. Take an archery lesson so I can feel like Katniss for a day

katniss-archerI think this is self-explanatory.

8. Read ALL of C.S. Lewis’ books

cslewisbooksSo I’d like to consider C.S. Lewis my favorite author of all time, but can I do that without having read all his books? So far I’ve read all of The Chronicles of Narnia and Till We Have Faces cover to cover, and I’ve read snippets of The Screwtape Letters and several of his nonfiction books. I own The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity, and let’s not forget that Lewis also wrote a space trilogy. Needless to say, I have a long way to go, but everything I’ve read by him so far I have enjoyed.

9. Read to my future children

bedtime-story2This seems like a really simplistic thing to say, but I’m sure it’s harder to put into action. I would like to tuck my kids into bed every night possible, and again, whenever possible, I want to carve out the time to read to them/with them. I think instilling books into a child’s life is important, and of course it is a great way to spend quality time with your child. I hope I will put this into practice one day.

10. Read all 6 of Jane Austen’s novels

jane-austen-booksI’m already halfway through with this item, and plan to continue reading one Austen novel a year until I’m finished.

What’s on your bookish bucket list? 

Instalove 101: When Instalove Has the Chance to Grow

instalovebannerThanks to the lovely ladies at A Novel Idea for hosting this month’s Instalove 101, where we bloggers bring you lectures on the hard issues in fiction literature, like love triangles and instalove. Today I will be sharing what happens when instalove has the chance to grow, focusing specifically on the case study of Peeta Mellark.

peeta-stalkerSubject: Peeta Mellark. Evidence of Possible Instalove:

“Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?”says Caesar.
Peeta sighs.

“Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.”

… “She have another fellow?” asks Caesar.

“I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,” says Peeta.

“So here’s what  you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouragingly.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning . . . won’t help in my case,” says Peeta.

“Why ever not?” says Caesar, mystified.

Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because . . . because. . . she came here with me.”peeta-caesar“So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent,” Peeta says.

“Oh please,” I say, laughing.

“No, it happened. And right when your song ended, I knew – just like your mother – I was a goner.” peeta-katniss-cave“Well Peeta, we know, from our days in the cave, that it was love at first sight for you from what, age five?” Caesar says.

“From the moment I laid eyes on her,” says Peeta. caesar-katniss-peeta

Diagnosis: Definitely Instalove

I know that I was not alone in swooning over Peeta’s story, even though it’s really quite silly. He says that when he was five years old, he fell in love with Katniss upon seeing her and hearing her sing. For 11 years his fascination has not dwindled, in fact, it has no doubt increased. And the poor guy gets pushed into a plant by Katniss. Of course, she’s highly suspicious that he’s going to kill her in the Games, and now isn’t exactly the time for him to be declaring his love for her, seeing as they both won’t make it out of the Games alive.

But they do, and Katniss has to pretend all the while that she loves Peeta. And though Peeta does care for Katniss, it’s hard for him to pretend they’re happy when he knows how she really feels.

They spend months apart before the Victory Tour, in which they have to play happy couple again. Peeta continues to show his kindness, not just towards Katniss but also to District 11, which is the moment when Katniss realizes that Peeta really is quite a catch.

Then the Quarter Quell is announced, and they’re both are going back to the arena. And even though Peeta lies to the whole country that he and Katniss are already married and that she’s pregnant, she’s not upset with him. She knows they’re on the same team now, and they have to stick together to fight against the Capitol’s system. But she also becomes determined to keep Peeta alive.

She starts to care more about his survival than hers, just as he has cared for her survival more than his. 

“If you die, and I live, there’s no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life,” he says. “I would never be happy again.” catching-fire-beachI realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.

“I do,” I say. “I need you.”

…before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.

I feel that thing again. The thing I only felt once before. In the cave last year, when I was trying to get Haymitch to send us food. I kissed Peeta about a thousand times during those Games and after. But there was only one kiss that made me want more.

As Katniss’ love grows to something true, Peeta has the chance to see what love with Katniss actually looks like.

Then Peeta is hijacked and it makes him a different person by the time he is rescued. He doesn’t remember loving Katniss, and their relationship has to start completely over.

Katniss has to take the initiative to save Peeta and a possible relationship between them.

“I must have loved you a lot.”

“You did.” My voice catches and I pretend to cough.

“And did you love me?” he asks.

I keep my eyes on the tiled floor. “Everyone says I did. Everyone says that’s why Snow had you tortured. To break me.”

“That’s not an answer,” he tells me. peeta“But I think it’s time you flipped this little scenario around in your head. If you’d been taken by the Capitol, and hijacked, and then tried to kill Peeta, is that the way he would be treating you?” demands Haymitch.

I fall silent. It isn’t. It isn’t how he would be treating me at all. He would be trying to get me back at any cost. Not shutting me out, abandoning me, greeting me with hostility at every turn.

“You and me, we made a deal to try and save him. Remember?”

haymitch-catching-fireThrough time, through persistence, and through patience, Katniss fell in love with Peeta, and he fell back in love with her. And this time, it meant much more than seeing a cute girl at the age of 5. Now it was deeper, more devoted. The two literally went through hell and back again together, then faced their own demons separately. Needless to say, what started out as instalove for Peeta grew to become a well-earned love relationship.

Are you much more open to a story about instalove if it has the chance to grow? Do you know of a good example of this besides Peeta? When do you think Katniss realized she loved Peeta too?

Marketing a Book as a Movie

I have never read Vampire Academy, but I’ve seen three trailers for the movie. The first had a color scheme prominent of bright green and pink, highlighting all the fun, light-hearted moments these teen vampires share, a la your typical high school comedy film (it is sure to emphasize that the director of Vampire Academy also directed Mean Girls). All I could base my thoughts on Vampire Academy the book was its cover, and the book cover and the look of the movie I saw being advertised just didn’t seem to jive. (Of course, based off the cover, I would expect Angelina Jolie to be in the movie.)

vampire-academyI also heard some of you guys mention that the movie did not look like it was going to be true to the nature of the book. So I was not too entirely surprised when I saw the second trailer, which emphasized much more dramatic, serious moments in the movie. And I thought, Aha, they must have heard the outcry and changed the focus. The third trailer I saw was a blend of the two, highlighting both funny and serious.

And that lead me to think about how we want to see our favorite movies marketed to us when they come to life on the big screen. I know that when I saw the first Hunger Games teaser, which was just Katniss in the woods, I was really disappointed. But the first real trailer that came out after that was really good, and the trailers for Catching Fire were definitely amazing, truly capturing the heart of the story: the rise of the rebellion and the struggles that Katniss faces.

When the first Divergent trailer came out, there seemed to be some mixed reactions. I thought it did a good job of highlighting moments from the book, but we all look for different things. And then there’s always the fear that a certain actor or actress is not going to be able to fill the shoes of your beloved character, so even if the movie is marketed well, it may affect your perception of it for that reason.

And then there is The Fault in Our Stars, another book I have not read and is being turned into a movie. A trailer hasn’t come out for it yet, but the movie poster already has people talking with its tagline…

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I’m still weirded out that this is Tris and Caleb in the Divergent movie…

One Sick Love Story. Catchy marketing slogan, or insensitive and classless? Again, it seems to depend on who you ask.

So what do you look for when you see a book you love marketed as a movie? Which book-turned-movie do you feel has/had the best marketing? Which do you feel has/had the worst? 

*EDIT* For those interested, here’s a tiny clip from the trailer for TFiOS.

The Hunger Games Inspired Survey

Jasmine over at Flip that Page created this fun Hunger Games inspired survey in honor of the recent release of the Catching Fire movie! Questions are based on the districts from the world of The Hunger Games as well as the tributes. Feel free to join in on the fun on your own blog!

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Panem Regions

District 1
Industry: Luxury Items

Favorite book involving royalty: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. They become kings and queens at the end! How awesome is that?!

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District 2
Industry: Masonry and Weapons

Favorite book on war: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Feels!

District 3
Industry: Electronics and Technology

Favorite science fiction book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It does exactly as sci-fi should: causes you to reflect on humanity.

District 4
Industry: Fishing

Favorite beach read (however you define one!): The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, because it takes place on a beach and I think would be a good beach read.

District 5
Industry: Power

Favorite book involving superhuman/supernatural characters: Pivot Point by Kasie West is the closest I have gotten to reading about superhumans, so there you go.

District 6
Industry: Transportation and Healing

Favorite road-trip/self-discovery book: Finding Alice by Melody Carlson. It involves a mini road trip and a LOT of self-discovery.

District 7
Industry: Lumber and Wood

Favorite book with a wilderness/dystopian setting: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Duh.

District 8
Industry: Fabrics and Textiles

Favorite book cover: I think I have to agree with Jasmine’s choice of The One by Kiera Cass because OMG! Look at it!

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And a runner-up (because I love me some covers):

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District 9
Industry: Grain

Favorite under-hyped book: I think What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang is a little under-hyped in the YA world so I’ll go with that.

District 10
Industry: Livestock

Favorite book involving animals: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe again. Centaurs! Talking lions and beavers and all sorts of things!

District 11
Industry: Farming and Agriculture

Favorite fictional setting: Narnia from the Chronicles of Narnia.

District 12
Industry: Coal Mining

Rock solid favorite (from concluded series): The Hunger Games.

The Capitol
Central seat of government

Favorite book with a political agenda: So I don’t say THG again (at least for now), I’ll go with Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Notable Characters

District 1: Cashmere and Gloss

Favorite fictional siblings: Valentine and Ender in Ender’s Game. I enjoyed the movie but it really didn’t do their relationship justice.

ender&valentine

District 2: Cato

Favorite bad-boy character: Captain Thorne from Scarlet, because he’s snarky and hilarious.

District 3: Beetee and Wiress

Favorite genius/geeky character: Why can’t I think of someone who fits this bill other Beetee?! There must be someone! I’ll just say Beetee I guess.

District 4: Finnick Odair

Favorite swoon-worthy hero: Is Prince Kai in Cinder a hero? I think he will be. I’ll go with him.

District 5: Foxface

Favorite mysterious character: I’m going to say The Giver from The Giver. He’s pretty mysterious.

District 6: The Morphlings

Favorite secondary character: I can’t pick one! Just read this post.

District 7: Johanna Mason

Favorite female character: I can’t decide between Cinder from Cinder and Elliot from For Darkness Shows the Stars! They’re both strong-willed ladies who stand up for themselves but aren’t too rough around the edges either.

District 11: Rue

Favorite fictional kid: Rudy from The Book Thief. *cries*

rudy

District 12: Peeta Mellark and Katniss Everdeen

Favorite fictional couple: Peeta and Katniss?! Sorry that’s unoriginal, but it’s true!

The Capitol: President Snow

Favorite villain (to kill): Seriously… it’s Snow. He’s one evil dude.

Share your favorites in the comments, or create your own post! 

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire was one of my anticipated movies of 2013. And it really delivered for me. Before I fangirl on (and give just a few small complaints) let me warn that this review is filled with spoilers for the book and for the differences between the  book and the movie.

katniss_peeta_catching_fireOverall, I felt that Catching Fire was a better adaptation in being true to the book, and just a better movie overall than The Hunger Games. I think what director Francis Lawrence and the screenwriters, Simon Beaufoy Michael Arndt, who were all new to the franchise, did with the material in Catching Fire was truly highlight its best elements and magnified them in this visual adaptation of the story. And if nothing else, the recasting of Buttercup was spot on…

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I kid… sort of… kind of… not really. Come on Gary Ross, you couldn’t find an orange cat?!

But I digress…

The story starts off much like the book, with Katniss before the start of the Victory tour, though in order to help consolidate the storyline, they also make this the time that Gale kisses Katniss saying that he had to do “at least once.” Somehow President Snow knows about the kiss approximately 5-10 minutes later, but I guess we has spies and cameras everywhere so I am willing to let it go. Katniss and Peeta are cold towards each other but when the cameras turn on, they turn on the charm. Like the book, Peeta does slip on the ice and Katniss tumbles over him and kisses him. Peeta says Katniss does a good job faking it… that it almost felt like a real kiss. Which leads me to…

katniss-everdeen-y-u-no-love-peetaI forgot how frustrating this was in the book! Instantly I want to yell at Katniss, “Just love him! He’s the sweetest person you’ll ever know! LOVE HIM!!!!!” Which leads me to my biggest pet peeve of the movie…

GALE.

First off, let me say that Liam Hemsworth did like 10,000 times better as Gale in this movie, meaning that he actually came off as likable instead of dopey. I credit this to Hemsworth, the writers, and the director. THANK YOU ALL.

gale-dramatic

Hunger Games Gale = lame Gale.

Second off, it’s not really Gale I have a problem with, it’s Katniss AND Gale. For some reason, they decided to make Katniss like Gale as more than a friend instead of being truly confused about it all.

gale&katniss

Catching Fire Gale = better Gale. But back off of Katniss!

Book quote:

His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”

…I never see these things coming. They happen too fast. One second you’re proposing an escape plan and the next… you’re expected to deal with something like this. I come up with must be the worst possible response. “I know.”

Movie quote:

“Do you love me?”

“Gale, you know how I feel about you.”

No Katniss, he doesn’t, neither do we, neither do you! I was almost willing to accept this, but then they decided to add an extra scene where right before the reaping, Katniss kisses Gale just because. Not because he kissed her first, and not because he just got whipped nearly to death, the two kisses that happened in the book and I completely accept, but an extra one where she acts like it’s because they’re dating.

NO. NO. NO.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Save those dang kisses for Mockinjay where they belong. But thankfully, the kissing with Peeta in this movie was also WAY better in this movie than in The Hunger Games.

I promise I care about more than the kissing and will move on in a minute…

Catching Fire is a critical point in the Peeta and Katniss’ love story. In all the time they spend together and Peeta is nothing but genuine and loving towards Katniss, she starts to feel a little something. And when she thinks she’s lost him forever in the arena, Jennifer did such a great job portraying how much Katniss suddenly cared in that moment. And then when they’re on the beach, and she tells him she needs him, and kisses him for real. That was great. I wish we could have gotten just a little more of them before they went back to the arena (like my fave scene in the book – the rooftop!), but still, it was all still way better in this movie than the cave stuff in the last one.

peeta-katniss-beachSomething else I loved in this movie: Johanna Mason.

catching-fire-johannaAs far as I’m concerned, when it came to the other tributes, Jena Malone as Johanna stole the show. She was angry, she was vengeful, but she also stuck with the plan. The way she cursed President Snow, her sly looks as took off her outfit in the elevator (Jennifer Lawrence deserves an Oscar just for her face in that scene – priceless!), and her whole attitude was spot-on for me. I wanted more of her. I can’t wait to see more of her!

And then there was Finnick…

finnickMy one complaint with Finnick is that in the book, he comes off way creepy and I had to warm up to him like Katniss had to. But just the same, I enjoyed him in the movie and how Sam Clafin portrayed him.

Other minor characters who I felt really shone: Caesar of course (Stanley Tucci does him so perfectly – I just love it!), Effie, and Haymitch. All fabulous and even better in this movie than the last (and they were all great in the last one too)! You can see how much Haymitch and especially Effie have grown since the last movie. And President Snow was as chilling as ever.

Catching-Fire-Image-Plutarch-SnowBut let’s talk about Plutarch. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a great actor who can be way creepy (see: Mission Impossible 3), and I felt like he was extremely under-utilized in this movie. One detail from the book that I wish they would have left in the movie (and that literally would have taken five seconds) was Plutarch showing Katniss his Mockingjay watch. As it was, his conversation with her at the Capitol party felt so flat and no where near as impactful as it was in the book, which just seemed crazy with Phillip and Jennifer both being so talented. I blame the writing, which again, was usually spot on, but something about that moment in that scene just didn’t do a lot for the story to me. Though I will say Plutarch’s interactions with Snow were pretty good, even more dynamic than the interactions between Seneca and Snow in the last movie.

Beetee… jury’s still out. I like Jeffrey Wright in Source Code, and I thought he did fine here. I guess I wanted more but at the same time, the arena stuff in the movie couldn’t play out as much as it did in the book, and he didn’t have a lot to do anyway. Hopefully we’ll see really good things from him in the Mockingjay movies.

And Cinna? There wasn’t enough! And then when they beat him…

*cries*

Let’s move on…

More things I love: Prim’s go-get-em attitude, Peeta telling everyone about “the baby” (and Haymitch’s reaction, amazing, but sad they left out Finnick’s line about hormones!), did I mention Effie and Caesar?, and the AMAZING wedding dress turned Mockingjay dress…

katniss-weddingdressOverall, Catching Fire delivered all the feelings I wanted and expected. It delivered a lot more lines from the book. It delivered all the tension and danger of the forthcoming revolution (District 11 scene *cries*). It delivered Katniss’ struggle with PTSD and resistance to being a symbol. It was filled with amazing moments that left satisfied and ready for Mockinjay! Though Mockingjay was my least favorite book of the trilogy I believe that if we have the same team working on it as Catching Fire, those two movies can really be powerful and awesome. For being quite possibly my favorite 2013 release, and for being an amazing adaptation, but with points knocked off for the extra Gale kiss (boo) and a couple of other nitpicky things, Catching Fire gets 4.5 stars from me.

4-5stars-editSee related: My Top 10 Anticipations for Catching Fire

What are your thoughts on Catching Fire? 

My Top 10 Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

AKA, dang Suzanne Collins, you sure know how to write secondary characters.

Seriously, I am going to apologize upfront that nearly half of these characters from The Hunger Games trilogy. But you know what, I’m not really that sorry, because they’re awesome and deserve to be seen as such! I could easily do a Top 10 Hunger Games secondary characters, but I refrained myself. Here they are, in no particular order…

1. Haymitch, The Huger Games trilogy

haymitch&katnissHaymitch starts out as the old, drunkard Victor who feels trapped by the system the Capitol has set in place, but with many thanks to Katniss, grows to believe change is possible.

Haymitch takes the seat across from me. “We’re going to have to work together again. So, go ahead. Just say it.”
… All I can say is “I can’t believe you didn’t rescue Peeta.”
“I know,” he replies.
There’s a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn’t apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed.
“Now you say it,” I tell him.
“I can’t believe you let him out of your sight that night,” says Haymitch.
I nod. That’s it.

2. Cinna, The Hunger Games trilogy

Cinna is an incredible secondary character, who shows great strength and great restraint, quietly rebelling against the Capitol in his own way and loving Katniss the way she needed someone to love her.

“Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work.  That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.”

3. Effie, The Hunger Games trilogy

At first Effie seems as flighty and silly as Capitol people come, but through Katniss and Peeta, we see her change and as she comes to  realize just how truly evil the Games are. Unfortunately, however, we don’t know how her story ends.

4. Finnick, The Hunger Games trilogy

Just like Katniss, I was suspicious of Finnick at first. I mean, “Do you want a sugar cube?”? Really? Creepy! But he proves to be so much more than the famed hunky Victor Katniss believed him to be. He proves to be someone who loves deeply and will fight for what he believes.

“Did you love Annie right away, Finnick?” I ask.
“No.” A long time passes before he adds, “She crept up on me.”

5. Iko, The Lunar Chronicles

Iko is Cinder’s robot companion, but she’s far from boring, bursting with a fun personality regardless of whether she is talking to Cinder about Prince Kai or if her program has been re-routed into a ship where she laments getting used to her new “body.” Iko definitely made me smile several times while reading Cinder.

“Prince Kai! Check my fan, I think I’m overheating.”

6. Max, The Book Thief

Max is a Jew in Nazi Germany who hides in Liesel’s basement. Liesel comes to befriend him and they talk to each other about words and nightmares, helping each other through their own tragedies.

7. Rudy, The Book Thief

The-Book-Thief-Liesel-Rudy-CROPThe story of Liesel’s best friend seriously gave me all the feels. What is not to love about a rambunctious young boy who relentlessly pursues and teases the girl he’s crazy about?

The only thing worse than a boy who hates you. A boy who loves you.

8. Repicheep, The Chronicles of Narnia

Reepicheep, the most daring and courageous mouse of all, starts off a bit prideful, but in the end is humbled as he enters Aslan’s country. I love this feisty mouse and his story.

Reepicheep: I can eat and sleep and die for my King without one [a tail]. But a tail is the honour and glory of a Mouse.
Aslan: I have sometimes wondered, friend, whether you do not think too much about your honour.

9. Bean, Ender’s Game

Bean is one of the very few people Ender can rely on in the middle of his chaos of trying to discover who he is when the weight of the world is literally upon him. It’s neat to see their friendship develop and it made me interested in reading about Bean’s point of view in Ender’s Shadow, but I have not yet.

“They can’t break you.”
“You’d be surprised.” Ender breathed sharply, suddenly, as if there were a stab of pain, or he had to catch a sudden breath in a wind; Bean looked at him and realized that the impossible was happening. Far from baiting him, Ender Wiggin was actually confiding in him. Not much. But a little. Ender was human and Bean had been allowed to see.

10. Valentine, Ender’s Game

ender&valentine

Ender’s sister Valentine is also a very interesting character. She is incredibly smart but is considered too compassionate for the role of saving mankind from aliens, but she is exactly who Ender needs as he is falling apart. But Valentine is not perfect, as she allows their other brother, Peter, to manipulate her into exercising out his political schemes. It’s interesting to watch her reactions to Peter and Ender in the novel, and I am really looking forward to seeing how Abigail Breslin portrays her in the movie.

Ender: I didn’t want to see you.
Valentine: They told me.
Ender: I was afraid that I’d still love you.

What do you think of these secondary characters? Who are your favorite secondary characters? 

Choosing the Losing Love Triangle Team

Welcome class, please take a seat. In case you’re unaware, my name is Amy, and today I will be your guest lecturer for Love Triangles 101 (hosted by A Novel Idea). Before I get into today’s topic, “Choosing the Losing Triangle Team,” I wanted to answer the age-old question (OK, maybe it’s not that old…): “Why do you think love triangles are so prevalent in YA, and how do you feel about them?”

I feel I have a somewhat unique perspective as someone who is an aspiring author. I know there are times I have started writing a story and I have the idea that Miss X and Mr. Y are going to hook up. So I start the story, things are grand, and then… in walks Mr. Z. Where did he come from?! Sometimes, I planned for him to be a character, but not one to ruin Miss X and Mr. Y’s blooming romance! Or sometimes, I don’t even know where Mr. Z came from, it’s just like he literally walked into my story and said, “This is a nice story, and I’mma gonna let you finish, but Miss X and I could be the greatest love story of all time. OF ALL TIME!”

Oh dear. What am I supposed to do now? Well, I continue writing, allowing Mr. Z in the picture. Or I stop. (I stop writing a lot of times when I hit roadblocks… which is why I am no where remotely ready to be published…) The fun thing about writing is your characters do take on a life of their own. But it’s also frustrating when you realize that means you don’t even know what direction the story is headed in. Will Mr. Z and Miss X end up together? Sometimes the answer’s yes, sometimes it’s no.

All this being said, I think some writers could legitimately experience this. Sometimes, it’s obvious the whole premise of the story is romantic, and the love triangle is probably pre-arranged in order to add drama and excitement. I have to admit, adding a love triangle to a story is a very easy way to spice it up. But if you’re not careful, it can also be annoying or cliche.

Why this happens so much in young adult specifically, I’m not sure, but it could possibly be a part of “The Hunger Games Effect.”

Microsoft Word Document 3292013 23945 PM-001Though I personally feel there is a lot more to The Hunger Games than its love triangle, it is an element present that I’m sure left publishers interested in seeing more. And of course, there is also Twilight and its infamous love triangle, where I first heard about people choosing “teams” for the guy they preferred. If it sells, it’ll be written.

What do I think about this? Well, it all just depends on the love triangle: how it is woven into the story, its emphasis in the story, and of course, the ultimate outcome! Which leads me to today’s topic, the frustration that occurs when you choose the wrong team. Warning: below the picture, I will be spoiling The Maze Runner series, The  Matched Trilogy, and The Hunger Games trilogy. You have been warned!

I think The Hunger Games was the first YA book I read where I really noticed the love triangle. In this instance, I actually choose the winning team, loved Peeta the moment we met him. Coming off this winning streak, I guess I figured I would always choose the winning side, because obviously the most likable choice is the right choice for our main character. Right?

Enter in Teresa and Xander, dashing these hopes to the ground!

First, here is a trend I noticed with the three books I have mentioned…

Exhibit A

Introduced First: Gale

Introduced Second: Peeta

Winner: Peeta

Exhibit B

Introduced First: Xander

Introduced Second: Ky

Winner: Ky

Exhibit C

Introduced First: Teresa

Introduced Second: Brenda

Winner: Brenda

I’m sure this doesn’t happen with every love triangle, but seriously, can person #1 never catch a break? Sometimes the new mysterious guy (or gal) probably isn’t all they are cracked up to be!

Back to Exhibit C: The Maze Runner

team-teresaWe are first introduced to Teresa in The Maze Runner when she is the first girl to arrive in the Glade. She almost immediately goes comatose, but our main character Thomas still feels a strong connection to her, even believing that he is speaking with her telepathically. She is trying to give him a message about their past lives, about what the maze means, etc. And Thomas allows himself to wonder just how close he and Teresa had been. The readers wonder too.

Then in The Scorch Trials, Teresa seemingly does a personality switch. We find out later why and it’s all sort of weird and shady, but in the meantime Thomas meets Brenda. She’s nice enough, but a little too eager to come onto Thomas in my opinion. I was still holding out hope that Teresa’s weirdness would turn around and we would get the real her again.

In The Death Cure, when Thomas finally gets around the forgiving Teresa, she makes a choice, sacrificing herself to save others. I was absolutely crushed when I read this, realizing exactly what it would mean. Sure enough, when Thomas, Brenda, and the others are safe in their little preserved habitat, she’s basically like, “Hey, we get to procreate this place.” *wink*nudge*. Seriously?! Teresa just died! Is there no sympathy?! So now we know Teresa was the better person, and she’s dead, but oh well. Life goes on. Uh, no. You cannot treat Teresa that way James Dashner, YOU CANNOT.

james-dashnerBoo.

Back to Exhibit B: Matched

team-xander

The beginning of Matched swept me off my feet with the swoon-worthiness of Xander and Cassia, best friends from childhood, being matched as life partners. Yes, it was done by the government, which is stupid, but I loved the two of them together. I could not help it. They could still fight the government together. Right, right?!

Why did you steal my joy, Ally Condie?!

Enter Ky Markham, home-wrecker. He’s a nice enough guy, mysterious and whatnot, but seriously, he’s no Xander. Cassia’s captivated by him because he represents something different. That doesn’t mean he’s the right guy for her!

An Interjection About Psychology

Valentine’s Day 2008 I walked into one of my psychology classes in college and the professor lectured us that day on why love does not exist. It was all in good fun, but something he said did make a lot of sense. That often times, people claim to be in love after they have gone through something dangerous or high intensity together. What happened scientifically, of course, was that their adrenaline went up during this circumstance, and because of a person’s association of that adrenaline with the other person, whenever they see that person, their adrenaline spikes again, and they take it to be love.

Notice what some of these people in these stories went through together: Thomas and Brenda had to run for their lives away from crazy zombie-like people. Cassia and Ky committed many little rebellious acts together that made Cassia crave for more. Katniss and Peeta went through the freaking Hunger Games together… twice! But with Katniss and Peeta, they are able to help each other through these shared trials. They are the only ones who can truly understand  each other. And they have also developed a true companionship and devotion for one another over time, and that’s what I love about their relationship.

Ky doesn’t even want to be a part of the Rising that Cassia does. Xander does. We learn in Reached that the Rising isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, but Ky doesn’t even try to explain why to Cassia. And oddly she doesn’t seem to care that they don’t have this in common. If my boyfriend wasn’t jumping on an important bandwagon with me, I’d want  to have a conversation as to WHY. (Apparently it’s good enough that the poetry she finds sings to her soul and reminds her of Ky… BLEH… barf bag please!)

How The Love Triangle Ends

Let’s face it though, these love triangles can be quite subjective, otherwise there wouldn’t be teams. Sometimes the writers make both guys (or gals) kind of appealing and split the readers. I think I could deal with being on a losing team better, however, if the triangles did not end so badly.

Gale randomly leaves for District 2.

Xander suddenly falls for another girl.

Teresa just flat out DIES.

Can’t we make these love triangles end just a little better? Maybe a more mutual parting of ways?

How To Cope

I’m no expert in coping mechanisms, otherwise I still wouldn’t be filled with such bitterness still towards the disregard for Teresa and Xander. Here’s ways I try:

– Give the book with the lousy love triangle end a two star review and tell everyone how lousy of an end it was. Maybe someone will sympathize.

– Head canon. Just change it all in your head.

– Denial. These books do not exist…

That’s all I have for now. Let me know if you have more!

In Conclusion

Love triangles are fragile things, and they can be quite difficult to deal with. Both authors and readers should handle with care. Just be warned, the new guy/gal who shows up offering up something new and exciting is most likely to get picked, so if you don’t like them as much as guy/gal #1, you might not want to continue.

team-wrongguy

What do you think? How do you cope when you’re on the losing team? What losing teams have you been on? 

Class dismissed! And don’t forget to check out the other Love Triangle 101 lectures!

Round-Up: Suzanne Collins, Justice League?, and Captain Kirk

Suzanne Collins

Good news for Hunger Games fans! Suzanne Collins is going to start writing another young adult series! Hooray! We don’t know what’s is about, but if these characters are as engrossing as those in The Hunger Games, it hardly matters. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what she has to offer us next!

suzanne-collins

Justice League?

Though my favorite superhero is Batman, I have been really enjoying Marvel’s offering of The Avengers and the various movies for their characters. Justice League? Eh, I mean, it might be good, but I hard time imagining that I would like it as The Avengers. But let’s face it, if you attach Christoper Nolan’s name to it, my interest level will increase by 1000%. Many have wondered if Christopher Nolan would be involved with a Justice League movie should one be made, and/or if Zack Snyder (the director for the upcoming Man of Steel movie) would be involved. And all these questions have been answered! OK, not really, but they both did comment on the matter. And they were both nice and vague about it, saying basically, “Mmmm… maybe…” I won’t even know how much I care until I see Man of Steel and see if I enjoy Zack Snyder’s incarnation of Superman (since I’ve never been interested in Superman before). And then there’s the matter of Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt please. Or Christian Bale. But no one else would be right, not now, not so soon after The Dark Knight Trilogy. What are your thoughts on a possible Justice League movie?

MAN OF STEELNew Kirks Judged by Old Khans

This is an interesting article that compares Star Trek Into Darkness with original Star Trek films, as well as Abrams’ Kirk with the original. Does J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek betray what Star Trek stands for? Believe it or not, similar questions were asked about the second original Star Trek film over 20 years ago. And how is new Kirk learning lessons versus how old Kirk learned his lessons? If you read the article, let me know your thoughts on it!

kirkx2In other news, I finally finished The Book Thief. It is, without a doubt, the most heart-breaking fiction story I have ever read, but so amazing at the same time. The way it is written is beautiful, and just… wow. I don’t know what else to say. I’ll just save it for the review, which I hope to post later this week. My books from Amazon are supposed to come in later this week (finally… I think their shipping has gotten slower… and one of the books is the aforementioned The Book Thief now that I finished my library e-book of it… oops…), so I’m not quite sure what I am reading next yet until then.

Any book or movie news/points of interest been on your radar lately?