REMINDER: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD
It seems fitting to start off with something that plays such a huge part in both books. So, here’s the first question posed to our authors:
When writing series and sequels, it’s important to maintain continuity but avoid repetition. What are your thoughts about Kat and Peeta’s re-entrance to the arena (and their experience there) compared to the previous adventure?
I was initially very disappointed that Kat and Peeta were going back to the arena. I remember thinking that I wanted a *sequel* to the Hunger Games, not a rehashing of it. However, as the Games proceeded, I was caught up in the story and the potential for rebellion and I enjoyed it very much. That said, I do wonder if Collins could have achieved the same messages if she would have tried something different. Maybe Prim and Gale could have been chosen for the Games, in order to punish Kat (and we wouldn’t need the contrivance of the Quarter Quell). Maybe there could have been a switcheroo with mentors, where a Careers district mentor was forced to “mentor” District 12, and Kat and Peeta were forced to “mentor” different districts. This would let us see the Games, behind-the-scenes. And it would give lots of opportunity for duel-purposed strategies and questionable silver parachutes. Too complicated? Probably. I just wanted something a bit different – something to show bolder attempts from Kat and the Capitol to thwart each other.
Personally, I thought the whole Quarter Quell thing was pretty contrived, not just repetitious, and if I were to believe it, an even more egregious example of how President Snow and/or the administration in the book’s world was too stupid to have held onto power even this long (although at least the resulting events demonstrated the failure of their philosophy of control). But I put that reaction aside and certainly enjoyed the story regardless, and I thought Collins did a good job of making the events and emotions that followed different from what happened in the first book. The differences in the game setup the second time around, and the differing relationships with the other players, made the game itself seem very different, so that was also great.
Linda Joy Singleton:
When I first read the part about going back into the arena, I was shocked. I never saw this coming and didn’t want to go through that blood-bath again. It did feel contrived, like just repeating what worked the first time. But it was handled well and the arena was very interesting with the clock design. There were plenty of surprises and the people I cared about most survived. I liked the resourcefulness of Kat and the relationship with Peeta. The ending was partly what I suspected in how Kat connected with others, but a surprise, too. It left me wanting more…definitely a cliff hanger.
I have to admit I was shocked that Suzanne Collins chose to send Katniss and Peeta back into the arena. My thoughts at the time were, “really?” That said, I trusted the author and, of course, read on. And I have to say Ms. Collins did a great job of glancing over the parts that would have seemed redundant (much of the preparations) and of making the playing field much different. The games felt like more of a bonding experience, and the question was never who was going to die but more how the author would choose to end the novel. And I have to say, I was completely pleased with the ending.
Given that this series deals with survival, there will obviously be bloodshed and casualties. How did your view of the violence in this novel compare to the previous one?
I was originally reluctant to pick up the first book in the series because I don’t do well with lots of violence. However, I think in both Catching Fire and The Hunger Games, Collins does well to avoid graphic descriptions and include just enough information for us to understand the horror of violence without being overwhelmed by it. That said, I’m apprehensive about the film treatment Hunger Games is undergoing–seeing someone get killed is much more disturbing than reading a vague description of it.
That’s funny, because physical violence doesn’t terrify me nearly as much as mental torture.
In fact, I loved the image Collins painted with the phrase:
“her throat slit open in a bright red smile.”
As far as mental torture, this book was so much creepier to me than the first. From the very beginning (where Kat realizes that if she makes one wrong step with the Capitol, all their lives are forfeit) to getting ready for the Quarter Quell (when she runs into her friend who’s now an Avox, and there’s nothing she can do for him) to the spinning clock in the arena (where will the terror come from next?) to specifically the jabberjays (hearing your family members cry out in torture and knowing it’s not them but wondering if it might be because it sounds SO real). If Collins ever went to work for the government, she could get any hardened criminal to spill his deepest, darkest secrets with her torture techniques!
Third and final question today (since this post is looong).
Thoughts on the Gale/Kat/Peeta love triangle?
A couple thoughts here. Gale seems the more desirable choice, as he portrays “the bad boy”. Peeta is just too nice. I’m not sure how many teen girls will pick the nice guy over the “bad boy.” That said, Gale is not given much screen time. I found myself wanting him on screen much more (and I’m sure this is because I want Katniss to choose him because he is the “bad boy”). I really hope in book three we get to see more of Gale. It’s set up for this to be the case.
I have to say it–I was so bored by the love triangle this time around. In fact, I didn’t really like the story until the games started. I wouldn’t have minded skipping all the set-up–all of Katniss’s anxiety about her two loves and her indecision about whether to run away with either/both of them. But I still feel invested in Katniss’s future with either Peeta or Gale, and I think the only way she can really choose between them is for one of them to die. Probably Peeta will sacrifice his life for Katniss, and Katniss and Gale will be the reluctant new leaders of the Districts.
Sound off, readers! Even if you disagree, we’d love to hear from you!