I can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.
I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
After nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.
I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!
Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!
I’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it wasn’t what I got. When I requested a copy of this book from the publisher I expected a fun parody of The Hunger Games, but ultimately it wasn’t. This is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.
Let’s start with the good. There is a lot of potential in this writer, the ideas and the story adaptation are there, it’s the translation to the page that needs work. The story is a basic copy of The Hunger Games but it’s solely men entered into the tournament and rather than just killing for survival there has to be some sort of erotic act as well. I think the best thing about this novel, by far, is the name of the government drag queen: Lady Mary Posa.
Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly and is often times used in a derogatorily (similar to fag or queer), but in choosing to re-empower this word and have a, what I’m assuming is supposed to be funny, drag queen embrace the name and make it her shtick is quite creative and charming. And the authors creativity is further seen through his imagination (or my lack of imagination) to include the myriad pleasure devices mentioned within the arena.
As with my most re-reads of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire I’m realizing (once again) how much things change between re-reads based on where you are in your life, what you’re doing in life and any other number of uncontrollable factors. Looking back on my original review in September 2010, I see that my thoughts haven’t changed too much, but my understanding and appreciation of Collins’ storytelling/building has increased.
I’ll go ahead and get my major gripe of Catching Fire and Mockingjay out-of-the-way: these were not two books, they were one book that was split into two. They had to have been! And I can’t imagine the movie studio splitting the third book into two films unless they are going to add in a lot of additional information that is missing from the series. I mean sure, the books have contained beginnings, middles and ends, but the two books cannot stand alone because their plots are in essence the same plot. In comparison you have the encapsulated first novel. As with the last two reviews don’t read past here if you don’t want anything revealed! (AKA SPOILERS!)
As with my recent re-read of The Hunger Games and going back to re-read my original review of Catching Fire back in 2010, I realized how much my blog has changed over the past three years. (I’ve also realized how poorly proofed my old posts are. Seriously go back and read some of them and laugh at my horrible editing! I used ‘one’ instead of ‘won’ and have ‘wont” instead of ‘won’t’ at one point. As I said in that review, DON’T READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING RUINED.
If one of the novels had more potential than any of the others, this is it and this is most evident in the way the writers were able to create an AMAZING film out of a mediocre book. And as with the book itself I wished the movie would’ve spent more time in the arena itself rather than on the outside of the arena, but both the book and movie did have to set up the third book.