The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
This movie went by fast. I’d read the book some time back, but I wasn’t bored for a moment even knowing where the story was going. When I watched the first Hunger Games movie last year, I thought Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was the standout performance among the main cast. This time, it was definitely Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. She had some great moments that I thought were fantastically done.
My favorite supporting character had to be Johanna, played by Jena Malone–a huge surprise for me, since I didn’t particularly like Johanna in the book. But I just loved Jena Malone’s performance. She had me from the moment Johanna started describing her forays in the jungle with the blood rain. Sam Claflin was also pretty compelling as Finnick, especially later on, after Finnick’s composure started taking a few blows.
That said, I liked all of the actors’ performances here. They were all great, as has become the norm for the Hunger Games movies.
Oddly enough, the love triangle didn’t bother in either the books or the movie–in the books, it’s clear Katniss isn’t thinking about relationships at all because she’s got bigger problems. If anything, the boys are the ones causing all the drama. In the movies, I ascribe everything that happens to the fact that Katniss is a teenager in an extremely stressful life-or-death situation–and I don’t even know to what extent the pretense for the cameras is supposed to still be on. Normally, I’d be more bothered, but there are enough extenuating circumstances here.
I’m making this a short review to avoid saying anything I’d already said about the book, but my old thoughts on it are still up, for anyone interested.
Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
I wish so much I’d read this when I was younger. Alanna wants to be knight in a land where only boys get to go into training as knights. So, with the aid of a little forging and an inattentive father, she pretends to be one–at ten years of age, she becomes a page (a precedent to squire, then knight), in the place of her brother, who goes to study magic. The series follows her life from there on out.
We get to watch her as her friends discover her gender, as she attains her knighthood, as she becomes a hero. Tamora Pierce tends to add in great secondary characters too, though Alanna leaves them for large periods of time when she’s off being her hero self. Told in a third person limited POV, following Alanna. Has a few romantic subplots.
Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce
This quartet follows the next girl to attempt a knighthood after Alanna’s success, and the first girl whose gender is known from the start. In contrast to Alanna’s temper, Keladry is controlled and polite. And utterly incapable of not standing up for someone who needs help. This means Kel gets herself into trouble on someone else’s behalf, rather than on her own.
I loved her character. Someone unassuming, who’s always looking out for others? She’s like my ideal person. Kel’s circle of longstanding friends also came with a bunch of fun personalities–especially the ever-sarcastic Neal and the over-exuberant Owen. Told in a third person limited POV, following Kel. No serious romantic subplots here–Kel’s being moved around a lot in the course of her knight training due to military needs, so she doesn’t really have time.
I recommend these quartets both for the nostalgia factor of old school YA, and for a nice coming-of-age adventure fantasy.