"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -- Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Books: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

Being sick had one serious advantage for me this week. I was able to listen to two whole books while lounging around in my bed. I was able to lay there, resting with my eyes closed, and just let the stories be told to me by a lovely-voiced narrator. How awesome is that? (I highly recommend the audio books - the narrator is very good and it really brings Katniss and the Panem world to life.)

The first one finished was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This is the second in The Hunger Games trilogy. I liked this stage of the story, but not as well as the first book. If it's possible, the story gets darker. The love triangle gets dragged out a bit, which could annoy, but the conflict was in keeping with Katniss' character - it's not just about choosing which dude to love, it's a deeper conflict than that.

Having read the final book immediately after this one, it was clear that Catching Fire is the book used to propel the story forward. Put all the books together into one book, and this one is the stuff that keeps things moving, explores things deeper, increases the mystery. I'm OK with that. As a stand-alone, it's fine. As the middle part of a longer story, it's good.  4 stars out of 5

Last night I managed to finish Mockingjay. This the darkest of the three books, if that's possible. There was a time while listening to the middle portion of the book that I was completely depressed, wondering if there would be redemption, happiness, resolution. It finally got there, but it was a long slog - it reminded me of Return of the King by JRR Tolkien - Frodo continued to be possessed and haunted by The Ring, but continued on his quest to Mordor. Not that The Hunger Games novels can really be compared to Tolkien's genius world and story, but that is what came to mind. So I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. It is my least favorite of the books, but it's a good wrap-up of the story. 4 stars out of 5

I give them both 4 stars as part of the entire trilogy. Neither of these books should be read alone, imho. They are part of a larger work and that's how I reviewed them. Of the three, The Hunger Games is my favorite of the parts.

EDITED TO ADD: I need to add a warning for parents. Mockingjay is not for the faint of heart or for younger teenagers. I warned similarly for The Hunger Games and that warning is the same for Catching Fire, but the violence and adult themes in the last book are such that it may be hard for younger tweens and teens to process it well or to come through it without nightmares. The imagery is vivid and if your child has a strong imagination, then they may need to wait until they're older to read Mockingjay. As such, I'd give this trilogy a strong PG-13 rating.

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