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The Hunger Games (review part 2)

3 July 2012

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wrote a review of the first book of the series, The Hunger Games but now I’m writing a combined review of the second and third books. The second one had its ups and downs, but they were neither as far up or as far down as the first volume.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The twelve districts of Panem are in rebellion against the Capitol, which has ruled and exploited them all, and reminded them all of their subjugation and the cost of rebellion by means of the cruel annual Hunger Games, where two children between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are chosen by lot to fight to the death in a reality TV show.

The second book, Catching Fire begins with the victors of the Hunger Games from District 12 going on their victory tour, after being warned by President Snow that they must do everything they can to discourage the signs of rebellion that are beginning to appear in some of the districts.

Once again, to say much more of the story would reveal too much of the plot, but I can say that as it seemed to me that the first book started out well, and then plunged to a low point so that I felt as though I wanted to rewrite it, and then the second rose to a kind of comfortable mediocrity, which continues about two-thirds of the way through. But the last part of the third book rises again, almost to the level of the beginning of the story.

It reminded me in some ways of the freedom struggle against the Gaddafi regime in Libya last year, though the book was published the previous year, so perhaps it can be seen as a kind of prophetic prediction.

It is also a kind of parable, or as some might say, an allegory of colonialism, with the Capitol representing the metropolitan power, and the districts representing the colonies. If you are one of those who regards C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories as “Christian allegory”, then this trilogy is certainly an allegory of colonialism, though I think in both cases it is a misuse of the term “allegory”.

It also raises questions about the moral ambiguity of all freedom struggles — is this truly a struggle for freedom, or is it merely a struggle for regime change?

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