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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Catching Fire

Fellow local YA writer Cat Hellisen and I were playing putt putt when we made the spur of the moment decision to go watch Catching Fire.

As you do.

Needless to say…. wow.

Generally I’m a bit nervous about film adaptations cough…Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban..cough but I was pleasantly surprised by how close Catching Fire kept to the novel.

In short: Catching Fire is based on the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. In the first book, Katniss and Peeta survive the gruesome Hunger Games, where teenage tributes from the various districts fight to the death as punishment for a historical uprising. In Catching Fire, the pair go back into the arena to face the victors of previous games.

The film is subversive, political and smart and I left the cinema wanting to go protest something, which is exactly how I felt after reading the book.

The Hunger Games is such a fantastic series. It challenges how we think and by walking in the characters’ shoes, forces us to acknowledge that we cannot accept injustice. The setting is dystopian, but also scarily familiar.

The odds are never in your favor.

It’s a brave statement to make. We live in a world where war and atrocity are overshadowed by celebrity it-couples and reality TV. Kids don’t worry about what’s happening on the other side of the planet. But when you read the Hunger Games, you are that kid on the other side of the planet. Just like the book, the film throws you right in there, reminding you that conflict is very real, and very, very scary.

Yes there’s a love triangle, but unlike Twilight, it’s not just a simple matter of two guys fighting over one girl. Everyone is a loser in this battle of hearts. Katniss is torn in two; she makes bad decisions and hurts the ones she loves in the process… which is exactly how a real life love triangle would play out.

The character of Katniss is wonderfully flawed, but also beautifully constructed – she’s brave, loyal and strong, but she also questions herself constantly, internalises her issues and sometimes wants to run away from her problems. Jennifer Lawrence captures that perfectly. She IS Katniss Everdeen.

Catching Fire
is everything you want from a young adult novel, and it translates so well on to screen.

Go see it.

Now excuse me while I go read the books all over again.


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