Coffee Time: Rereading Mockingjay a decade later

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)I realize there’s been a bit of a gap between my post about Catching Fire and this, but life is life, y’know.

Obligatory spoiler warning

As stated in my original post about The Hunger Games, I bought the prequel recently and realized I hadn’t actually read the original trilogy since they first came out back in 2011 or so. So I figured I’d reread the whole thing and compare my opinions from then, when I was 20, 21 years old, to my opinion now, being a decade older. The first two books, my opinion of them was more or less positive, just as it had been the first time I read them, but I noticed I liked different things about the books than I originally did. If you’re interested for some in-depth thoughts, you can find my post about the first book here, and the second book here.

So out of the three, Mockingjay definitely had the biggest difference of opinion between 20 year old me and 30 year old me.

When I was 20, I think I rated this book three stars. At the time I wasn’t overly impressed. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure the reasoning was I had expectations about how I wanted the book to go, and when it didn’t happen, my overall enjoyment of it suffered. I remembered really wanting a stronger romance and being annoyed that Peeta had been hijacked, I remembered shipping Katniss and Gale and was bummed it didn’t happen, and most of all, I remember feeling that the whole ‘Katniss has problems with the chain of command’ plot line to be annoying, and I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t let her do what she needed to do. I was twenty, mind you, so I strongly related to Katniss, who was just a couple years younger than me at the time.

So a combination of all of the above, had me really not loving the book, nor how it ended.

Rereading it now though, I had a very different experience. First off, I was better able to invest myself in the whole district thirteen authority struggle. I totally understand why they didn’t let a seventeen year old do whatever she wanted, and I thought they handled Katniss being defiant pretty well – well as well as they could, considering they weren’t even aware of half of what she was doing. And at the same time, I could still understand Katniss’s motives when it came to ignoring orders. The point of contention between the two sides felt fuller, more nuanced, and definitely more interesting than it did the first time around.

Secondly, this time through I wasn’t really shipping anyone, so the romance, or lack thereof, really didn’t bother me. The plot line with Peeta being hijacked was also much more interesting to me, and it was interesting to see how he was making progress to overcome it, and what ended up triggering a violent episode in him. If anything, I wanted more of that plot line. I wanted a POV inside of Peeta’s head, and was a bit disappointed that all we got was Peeta through Katniss, who for a long time was bitter about it at best.

The most striking difference in my enjoyment of this book was where my expectations were. I hadn’t read the book in a decade, and I never watched the last movie, so I only had a vague rememberance about how the book ended, but it was enough not to let my mind decide I wanted it a certain way and then get disappointed. So for what the plot was, I liked it. I remember not liking how many people died in the story the first time around, but this time around, while I still didn’t love it, it felt realistic. There are a lot of YA books that are afraid to kill off characters, especially in pointless deaths, but the reality is, it happens, especially in war. So while I’m sad all the characters that died did die, it felt realistic compared to what war is like.

The only thing I didn’t care for though, and it was the same as before, was the ending. It was very rushed. While Katniss was quickly swept away from where the main story was happening and only heard about it second hand – which again is realistic – it was kinda disappointing that we didn’t get to learn more about how the world ended up, or how the power struggle fizzled out to get there. I understand that Katniss didn’t much care about it herself, which is why we didn’t see it, but I feel like a second POV from someone who was more involved would have been beneficial.

So. Overall, I did enjoy this book much more than I had ten years ago, and I’m glad I reread it. Solid 4 stars. With this third book done, I do plan on picking up the prequel before the end of the year. If you’ve read it, do let me know your (non-spoilery, please!) thoughts.

Happy reading!

Coffee Time: Rereading Catching Fire a decade later

Coffee Time

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)So last week or so I made a post about rereading the Hunger Games for the first time since 2011, and now that I’ve finished Catching Fire, it’s time for post number two! Obligatory spoiler warning.

When I first read this back in 2011, I remember being on a road trip with a friend to go visit another mutual friend of ours. They had this book on their shelf when I got there and I saw it and remember making a beeline for it and asking if I could read it while there. They were courteous enough to allow me to, which I appreciated.

And then the first day of our four day trip there I spent reading this book. Rude? Maybe a tad, but my buddies were also readers so they understood. I literally read this book in a day originally. I remember not being able to put it down at all. I think I read it in two sittings? I stopped for dinner or lunch or something. But it was totally addicting and I remember loving it even more than The Hunger Games.

And this time around, it was the same deal: I zoomed through this. I started with my physical copy but once I decided to re-arrange my books again on my shelves, I switched over to the audio so I could listen while I fiddled with my other books. I didn’t finish it in a day like I did last time, but it was still rather damned quick.

The biggest thing I forgot about this book was how little time was actually spent in the Hunger Games arena – it’s only the last what, maybe third of the book? And the first two thirds are all world building and political strife and whatnot. I seriously forgot all about it, and reading it was like doing so for the first time.

I think I saw the movie for this book maybe three or four years ago – it’s been a while – but I remember now how much the movie left out. There was so much political maneuvering and side character interactions that happened in this book that just weren’t present in the movie. I really, really enjoyed all the build up in this one and feel like the exhibition of it was fantastic.

I mentioned in my previous post that I could see where team Katniss/Nobody was coming from this time around, and with this book that viewpoint only strengthened for me. This book starts the love triangle, the ugh you’re killing me roll my eyes love triangle that’s happening in the middle of an uprising. While I can see now that Katniss is definitely confused when it comes to where her feelings lie, and that she has admitted feelings for Gale and at least potential ones for Peeta, I still feel like she should just deal with the problem at hand, but hey, in the famous words of Mick Jagger, you can’t always get what you want.

But anyways.

I feel like this book set up the last one really well and it culminated with the cliff hanger at the end. I really like how little Katniss is aware of the events going on outside of her own point of reference. She’s being returned to the arena and that’s a big issue yes, but there are also revolts in districts, elaborate plans to break apart the Hunger Games and save the competitors left alive. Katniss knew about some of it, but nowhere near all of it, nor was she involved except for involuntarily. She was a face of a movement before she knew one existed, and I thought it was set up really well – the revealing of information, the pacing, the cliffhangers. It was all great.

So this time around I gave this book a 4.5 stars, while last time I gave it a five. I enjoyed it as much this time as I did last time, but the boy pining kinda ground my gears, so half a star off it is.

One more book left, and then the sequel. If you’ve been rereading these recently or reading them for the first time, do tell me your thoughts.

Coffee Time: Rereading The Hunger Games a decade later

Coffee Time

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

So I know at this point that everyone and their mom has read The Hunger Games, but I reread it recently, for the first time since 2011, and figured I’d do a thing on it since I bought the prequel and relevancy and yada yada. This’ll hopefully be the first out of three posts, one for each book as I read them.

When I originally read this book, I was 21, heading into my senior year of college, and while I had been reading books for years and years at that point, young adult was still a relatively new thing to me. I owned young adult some books but in my mind, ‘young adult’ wasn’t a separate genre from all the other books I had. Honestly I don’t even remember if my bookstore had it separated it out as a separate section or if it was all just mixed in with everything else. I had a Goodreads account, but otherwise I didn’t participate in the online book community whatsoever. So the only reason I knew this book was hot stuff was because the cashiers working at my local Borders kept telling me about it. So I picked it up.

What I remember about reading it the first time was mainly two things: One, that I flew through it. I’m talking read it in a day, maybe two. I remember missing dinner one night because I couldn’t put the thing down. Two, I remember adoring it. 21 year old me gave this book five stars, no question. I loved it.

When the movies came out in the following years, I remember getting a large group of friends to go see it together in theaters. We made a whole event out of it: We went out for dinner first to a pizza buffet place, and then once we were stuffed beyond capacity, we hobbled our way to the theater and basically took over two rows. It was so much fun, and I remember more or less liking the movie adaption.

I’ve since rewatched the movies a few times (never last one though, weirdly. I’ve never seen it) so going into it this time, the overall plot was still pretty fresh in my mind.

This latest read I did as I said in prep for reading the prequel. This time I was (am) 29, and I’ve really defined my reading tastes over the last nine years. This book was still within them, mind you, but I wasn’t so blindsidedly smitten this time around. It got a four star rating from me instead of a five.

One thing I noticed was that I was more aware of Katniss’s lack of romantic interest throughout the book. I mean it’s obvious as she’s faking it for the cameras, but I’m talking that I better got where her inner dialogue was coming from. I know more than one person after reading the books was neither in camp Gale or camp Peeta, but instead in camp Nobody, because Katniss wasn’t in the right mindset to actually fall in love and keep a healthy dynamic going. When I was 21 I was firmly a Peeta fan, but now I’m not saying I don’t like Peeta, but I can also see why Katniss just wants to chill on her own. She admits herself that she doesn’t feel like she can keep up a relationship, real or fake. It’ll be interesting to see if I keep this mindset after the other two books.

The writing this time around too struck me as more simple than I remember it. I don’t mean that as a negative: simple writing often means I’m able to fly through the book, which I was. I think it took me three or four days this time around, which by my reading standards today is pretty speedy. I was really glad that the story kept me hooked just as much as it did in 2011. It was just as captivating. I forgot how much detail that the movies left out, so getting to read it all again was almost like reading it for the first time.

The biggest of those things was really all the inner monologue from Katniss. You really didn’t get any of that whatsoever in the movies, and I honestly forgot what the content of most of it was. It was really nice, and the books felt fuller to me than the plot I remember from the movies as a result.

I guess overall what I’m trying to say is that in my opinion, this book has withstood the test of time, and I’m rather psyched about it. Often I’ll rewatch or reread things from my childhood/teenagerhood/etc and it just doesn’t hold up, but with The Hunger Games, I don’t think it suffers that issue. I think the author did a really good job with it, and it’s still a solidly good book, twelve years after publication.

Maybe I’ll read it again in another ten years, or have my future kiddos read it and see what they think.