Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

black-widow

Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

Katniss-Everdeen_Catching-Fire1

Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

hermoine

Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

Elle woods

Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

Caroline

Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

I am no man

“I am no man”

Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

kick ass little girl

Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

rey star wars

Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL

Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

Eva Green CR

Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

Ellie Sattler Laura Dern

Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

M

Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

Furiousa

Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

Shoshanna

One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

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Movie Review: The Mockingjay Part II (2015)

The Mockingjay Poster

Plot: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Rating: 7.5/10

Mockingjay Part II had a lot to live up to. The not so stellar opinion of Mockingjay Part I probably increased the pressure significantly. Did it live up to the hype? You will have to go see it to decide for yourself, but I liked it well enough. It doesn’t come close to disrupting what I consider my favourite films of 2015, but I found the movie well done, very sad and a good end to the franchise.

What is it about this film series that makes it much more palatable than other Dystopian dramas? I really enjoyed the Divergent books but the movie adaptions run great risk of falling into complete obscurity. The Hunger Games, however, does not run this risk. Why? Firstly, the cast is stellar. Secondly, the directing is spot on and I think a great visualization of what Suzanne Collins thought. Lastly? The story itself carries resonance in a world plagued by terror and war. No one can possibly watch the Hunger Games series and realise that no, we aren’t sending people into an arena to fight to death, but that it is very close to our every day of warfare.

I considered Mockinjay Part I fine, much against popular opinion, but Part II is definitely better than its’ predecessor. It is mostly due to the fact that the last part of the book has all the action – part I had the unfortunate task of making a movie out of a very dull and depressing part of a very thin book.

The biggest flaw in the film is most certainly that the watchers who didn’t read the book will be confused in many places – even I, who did read the book, thought that the movie was confusing at places.

It also feels rushed – the film is short for a last film and there is so much action that a few breather scenes – something I rarely recommend – should have been included.

My favourite part? Josh Hutcherson. I am a full out Gale Hawthorne fan, but Josh Hutcherson was born to play the sweet Peeta Mellark – that incredibly kind person who managed to keep something of himself despite the fact that he had gone through enough to destroy kindness once and for all. He broke my heart in places, and watching him struggle through the lies the Capitol had fed him was really very painful.

Mockinjay wedding

The best scene? Definitely those fucking mutts. Pardon my French there, but what WERE those things? I was terrified. I expect them to show up in my dreams soon. WTF. And the death there that supposed to happen? It did, and it was as terrible as in the books.

Kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for what she does for Katniss Everdeen. Say what about how annoying she is on the red carpet, because she is, Jennifer Lawrence brings so much character to that selfish girl in the books. You get to understand that Katniss is going mad – she’s been through too much and has seen so many horrors that she is not stable and she has lost most of her kindness.

I am slowly becoming a big fan of Liam Hemsworth as well – not near to the admiration I have for older brother Chris, but quite a lot. I think that he did very well in here and acted his best since the start of the series. I do wish that they could have included something about what happens to him in the end – the book leaves that out as well, but I think the movies could have concocted something.

There are a few changes between book and movie, but as nothing major is altered it isn’t something I would complain about just yet.

Mockingjay

I think I am always going to consider Catching Fire the best of the series, but Mockinjay Part II is a good end to a very good franchise. It is a bit sad to say good-bye, and if you have no clue what to expect in the movie, just be aware that Suzanne Collins made J.K. Rowling look like a merciful goddess who spared all your favourite characters from a grizzly death. That is all I’m going to say. I hope you enjoy it, and can speak fondly of a great franchise, as I am planning to do.

5 Things Friday: Trailer time

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY

IT’S FRIDAAAY!

I’m not nearly as excited as I was last week Friday, because THEN I drove down to see my bestie. It was AWESOME.

Anyway,

This was only a four day week for South-Africa because we, true to our fondness for public holidays, had one to celebrate Women’s Day this past August – my only question is why the men got off as well, but I guess I will never get the answer to that.

To celebrate this short week that went quicker than most, because DUH, one day less of work, let’s look at some new (and some not so new) trailers that has me excited to see their full movies.

Batman vs. Superman

Release date: March 23, 2016

Pros:

I think this can work well if it is properly done

Cons:

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor?? I can’t see that happening. What is with the hair?

This isn’t really a con, it is just apprehension. Batfleck. I don’t know. Ben Affleck is a good actor and all but I can’t see how he will top Bale.

 

Suicide Squad:

Release date: August 5, 2016

Pros:

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think that is going to be amazing.

The whole feel of the trailer – WOW DC, it is looks eery and gritty and sexy.

Cons:

Jaret Leto as the Joker. We will see, but I wasn’t all that impressed by him.

I’m not even sure what Will Smith is doing in here?

The Revenant:

Release date: December 25, 2015,

Pros:

I get to see Zoë dancing around in happiness because DiCaprio is on screen.

Hallo, Tom Hardy

Hallo, Leo

Tom and Leo together? Bring me that popcorn

Cons:

The plot isn’t that obvious in the trailer. Maybe it is a good thing.

 

Mockingjay Part II

Release date: November 20, 2015

Pros:

The second part of that book is much more exciting than the first part, and that is what everyone was complaining about in their reviews of Part one – it was a little bit boring.

The Cons:

That trailer, if you look properly at it, really doesn’t happen what will go down in the final part of the movie.

 

Spectre

Release date: November 6, 2015

Pros:

Daniel Craig as Bond

Cons:

Can’t really think of any right now

Whoop!! What are you excited to go see?

Six Degrees of Separations Blogathon: Linking Robert Downey Junior and The Green Mile

six-degrees

When Zoë first asked me if I would like to take part in this blogathon I was quite excited but extremely confused at the same time – the theory behind the blogathon was fantastic but sounded completely undoable.

The six degrees blogathon is based on the theory that every single person on the planet can be linked to another person in six steps. These posts connect random stars to stars or movies. Here goes!

Then I heard the topics of my linkage –  The Green Mile, an epic movie but a quite old one, and an actor I have always thought very present right now, Robert Downey Junior.

I knew I would have to bring a person in that spanned the time difference between the two links, and I was completely surprised when I finally figured it out.

Thanks for nominating me, best one! It was LOADS of fun and I can actually picture myself doing this for days on end!

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1. One of Robert Downey Junior’s most known roles is as Iron Man/ Tony Stark in the Marvel Universe’s Avengers franchise

Tony Stark

RDJ is such a great, charismatic man and I respect him so much for rebuilding his life.

2. Chris Hemsworth stars with RDJ as Thor in the Avengers, and he is the brother of Liam Hemsworth in real life

thor-the-dark-world

(The above beauty is brother of the below beauty)

liam

3. Liam Hemsworth is Gale Hawthorne in the Hunger Games, in which Woody Harrelson stars as Haymitch Abernathy, the mentor of Katniss and Peeta.

gale and haymitch

4. Woody Harrelson stars alongside Morgan Freeman in Now You See Me

now

5. Morgan Freeman also stars in the Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont

theshawshankredemption

6. Frank Darabont is also the director of the Green Mile (1990)

shawshank-redemption-frank-darabont

I nominate Melissa from Snap Crackle Watch to link Robert Downey Junior with Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark. Enjoy!

PS: Go read Zoë’s post – Truly awesome!

Book Review: Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)

Book: 68/100

HG covers

Katniss Everdeen’s second trip into the Hunger Games’ Arena – a survival of the fittest death match between the Capitol’s elven submissive districts – ended when the rebels pulled her out after an explosion caused by Beete – another tribute who was in on the escape plan everyone had known about except Katniss and Peeta. Katniss is taken to safety, her injuries gets treated, and her friend Gale tells her right after the rescue mission that they couldn’t pull Peeta out and that he is now in the hands of President Snow and the Capitol.

Katniss is taken to District 13 – a district that was supposed to have been obliterated during the Dark Days but had secretly survived and sustained itself underground. Katniss meets President Coin, the leader of the resistance, and can’t seem to shake the feeling that Coin intensely dislikes her. She also meets Boggs, her bodyguard who eventually becomes her friend. With them is fellow Tribute Finnick Odair, a young man Katniss originally thought was a pretty playboy but who was forced to sleep with people President Snow approved of. He is also suffering for he knows if the Capitol captures the Annie Cresta, the girl he loves, she will be tortured as well.

President Snow realises that Finnick and Katniss are too stressed about Annie and Peeta to focus on being the faces of the rebellion. To rectify this, she sends in a special task force to the Capitol to save them. Gale is one of the team going to the Capitol, and Katniss is once again torn between her feelings for him and Peeta. The task force brings Annie, Peeta and Johanna Mason back, another Tribute who was part of the rebellion.

Peeta is unrecognisable from the sweet boy Katniss used to care for. Under the Capitol’s brilliant but cruel torture made him to believe that Katniss is his enemy. Their first reunion is abruptly stopped when he tries to choke her, and she is devastated by the realisation that he wants to kill her. Peeta’s rehabilitation begins, and it is a difficult process because some of the cruel things he remembers of Katniss is true – how she couldn’t decide about her feelings and her abrupt actions.

The rebellion manages to get control over all the Districts in time. The last coup happens in District Two, and Katniss gets shot by one of the civilians there. She recuperates, and when she learns that Coin is planning to send in troups to conquer the big one – the Capitol, Katniss is determined to go and finish of Snow. She trains hard, and is eventually rewarded by being included in an elitist group of soldiers. She, Boggs, Gale, Finnick and some others head to the Capitol, and they are shocked when Coin sends in Peeta as well. Katniss realise that Coin wants her dead, and Boggs explains that it is because Coin knows that Katniss will never support her for a presidential candidate when the time comes. Will Katniss manage to kill Snow, and will all her loved ones survive? Will Coin get her wish and see Katniss killed by the boy she loves? Is there a chance for Katniss and Peeta to reconcile or will she end up with Gale?

Rating: 8/10

In post Potter depression, I never thought I could truly love a series again. I was relieved when I discovered the Hunger Games and realized that while nothing would ever reach the epic proportions of Harry Potter, there were other material in the world that was worthy of attention.

Mockingjay is a good end to a good series. I enjoyed the distinct change that there is no happy ending – even at the end where peace is restored, you know Katniss will be safe but will never forget what happened. The characters remain scarred and thus the book stays respectable – in a world like theirs, how could true happiness ever be possible?

The second installment of the franchise, Catching Fire, is currently in cinemas. I would recommend a movie and book binging to anyone who hasn’t made the time yet.

Read reviews of Hunger Games and Catching Fire here and here.

N

Movie Review: Catching Fire (2013)

Catching_Fire_Poster_1_14_13

Catching Fire takes place a few months after Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) became the first two victors to leave the Hunger Games alive. Before the Victory Tour – a tour designed to keep the horrors of the Games fresh in everyone’s mind, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) visits Katniss at her home. He tells her that her act of defiance – where she and Peeta agreed to eat poisoned berries rather than killing each other, showed people that it was fine to defy the Capitol, and that the result was that there are uprisings in the districts. He tells Katniss that if she wants her family to survive, she will show the entire Panem that she was just a silly girl in the cinema that was desperately in love.

This naturally is a problem because she is barely speaking to Peeta. He is still hurt by the fact that her feelings were just a show for the audience while his was real. While on tour they manage to become friends again, but even that isn’t enough. In the district where Rue, the girl who was so close to Katniss in the Arena, used to live, they witness an outbreak of violence when the crowd salutes Katniss. Katniss confesses to Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Peeta what Snow wants, but even when Peeta and Katniss act in love it isn’t enough to stop the rebellion that is rising.

Snow discusses plans to get rid of Katniss with the new head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensby (Philip Seymour-Hoffman). When everything else fails, they decide to send Katniss, with many of the other victors, back into the Arena for the Quarter Quell – a special Hunger Games that happens every 25th year to once again remind the people of Panem the price they pay for the rebellion long ago. How will Katniss and Peeta get out alive a second time with Snow seeking her death?

Rating: I would rate this movie an excellent 9/10.

WOW. Just wow. I finally got to the cinema this weekend to go and see it. There were so many reasons I just couldn’t get to the movies before this, so I went in three weeks later than I had planned. Everyone was declaring it one of THE movies of the year, and absolute must, and I was getting frustrated by not having seen it yet. The internet is such a bastard so I was cautious not to check out too many reviews – I have been burned before. The waiting was well worth it in the end.

It is so rare that a movie is 1) as good as its book 2) better than its prequel and 3) gets me teary eyed. Catching Fire managed all three. It packs a huge emotional punch. Katniss is much more lovable on screen than in the books. In the movies she is just a very confused girl in a horrible world, where fear is so acute she actually doesn’t know how to understand love. There were very few changes made from book to movie. I appreciated that, and have to mention that some of the changes were best for the movie.

Why is it better than Hunger Games (2012)? It is very difficult to pinpoint, but there are just so much more emotions in Catching Fire. It sticks to the story, and what is added doesn’t subtract from the message of the film. All the actors have developed exponentially, most notably Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. She has always been great, but she is so truly Katniss in Catching Fire that you feel that you are right there in the arena with her. Peeta breaks your heart with his kindness, and Gale breaks your heart with his stubborn bravery and pride. The scene where the Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch hear two of them will certainly be sent back into the arena is horrible. It broke my heart. The cruelty of President Snow, and how stupid he was to think that Katniss could stop the revolution, and punishing her when she couldn’t by sending her back into the arena. Effie Trinket got so much more show time and Elizabeth Banks really did well showing her as a frilly Capitol creation, but with a good heart who feels something for them despite her stupid costumes. Some of the scenes (like the poisoned smoke) are utterly disgusting and some (like the monkeys) had me jumping in fright. As you meet characters that will have significant impact later on, you already start grieving for what will happen to them. Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) isn’t the major sex-symbol he is portrayed as in the books, but he is brave, sweet, kind and loyal to Mags. Carrying her on his back reduced me to tears a few times. Plutarch Heavensby was brilliantly done. He has this underhanded brilliance that makes you suspect he is pulling a big one on President Snow – who was once again excellently done by Donald Sutherland.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I beg you to go now. You will be thanking me later.

Xx

Book Review: Catching Fire (Susan Collins)

Book: 63/100

I’ve read this book before, but I was in such a rush to know what happened I didn’t really get to fully appreciate it. I decided to try it again as part of my challenge, as well as the first and third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Catching Fire the movie will soon be released as well, and I am eager to see whether it does justice to the books.

After Katniss and Peeta successfully manage to survive the Hunger Games, they return to District 12. Confused about her feelings, Katniss shuts Peeta out, not sure if what she feels for him is real or if she really loves her best friend Gale Hawthrone.

President Snow visits Katniss, and even though she tells her mother that he is only there to surprise and congratulate her, he threatens her. President Snow hates Katniss for pulling a trick over the government with the berries that saved her and Peeta’s life in the arena, and blames her for the unrest in the districts. He tells her he knows about the kiss between her and Gale shortly after she returned, and tells her very clearly that he will kill everyone she loves if she doesn’t find a way to calm the districts down.

One day in the woods Katniss meets some escapees from another District, and they tell her their hopes to reach District 13, the District that was destroyed by the Capitol in the Dark Days. They insist that there is something there, even though Panem always sees footage of smoking buildings. Their theory is based on the image that is always repeated – proven by a frozen Mockingjay that is present in all the photos. When Katniss returns to the Village, she sees that they indeed are right about one thing – the Mockingjay is in all the footage of District 13.

The Victory Tour is halfway between each Hunger Games and takes the Victor(s) around Panem so that they can visit each district. Katniss and Peeta both know that they must act very in love or face the consequences, and they try their best. Katniss realises that nothing she and Peeta does will be able to stop the uprisings – in Rue’s district they witness a man’s murder after he pays tribute to Katniss for her kindness towards Rue in the arena.

As the 75th Hunger Games is on its’ way, Katniss knows and fears that she will have to tutor a kid whose survival chance in the arena is slim. Every twenty five years it is the Quarter Quell, where the Capitol finds a way to make it even more brutal than usual in the arena. The entire Panem is shocked when President Snow announces that the Quarter Quell’s tributes will be from previous tributes, meaning Katniss and Peeta are available to be chosen. Katniss knows she is going, since she is the only female winner in her district, and Peeta volunteers immediately when Haymitch’s name is pulled out. They both now that this isn’t some strange coincidence, and that Snow is just getting back at them.

When they return to the Capitol to prepare for the Games, Katniss meets some of the other tributes from the rest of the districts. Most importantly she meets Finnick Odair, a shockingly attractive winner from another Hunger Games. She ignores him, but he tries very hard to gain her trust. She also meets Johanna Mason, a girl she instantly dislikes.

Peeta causes trouble the night of their interview with Caesar Flickerman when he announces that Katniss is pregnant with his child. This sends the audience into an uproar, sending a pregnant woman into the arena. Katniss knows it isn’t true, but she realizes that this just makes the population even angrier at the government’s cruelty. All the tributes find a way to make the government look cruel, and questions President Snow’s authority in very clever ways.

Before Katniss enters the Arena, she witnesses Cinna, her beloved stylist, being dragged away. She enters the arena horrified, but quickly recovers because there are so many horrors within the arena itself. She teams up with Peeta, Finnick and Madge, an old lady from Finnick’s district. Madge quickly offers up her life for the rest of the group. They discover that the arena is working like a clock, and that at each hour a certain horror waits for them in a certain part of the arena.

Together with some new allies, including Johanna, the group starts dodging the horrors. They devise a plan to kill the Careers, tributes who train their entire lives to be in the arena and are very cruel in general. Beete, one of their new allies, makes a plan to kill the Careers by electrocuting the salt lake and hopefully their enemies as well. Things start to go wrong at the last minute, and Katniss is separated from Peeta. She is airlifted out by the rebels, with Finnick Odair. She realizes that Peeta is now in the hands of the government, an easy target to torture and manipulate. Gale, who led the resistance in their own district and managed to evacuate some people when the government started bombing them, tells her that District 12 is no more.

Where is Peeta and is District 13 real?

Rating: 7.5/10

Despite the overused love triangle I enjoyed this book. It is decently written; a great original story and doesn’t include too much useless information. I am glad that the book doesn’t focus too much on the arena – the story there was excellently developed with the time clock and everything, but it would have been exactly like the first book had they focused on the arena again for three hundred pages. There are no obvious surprises waiting, but the intensity of the book grabs you enough to keep you reading. You can’t help but wonder how they will survive again, and who Katniss will choose in the end. She is a bit selfish to be honest, but I can see how she would want to keep both men in her life – she has suffered through tragedy and fiercely loves them both, although she isn’t sure in what way she loves them. The male leads both get points. I cannot choose between Peeta and Gale as they both display good characteristics. Peeta is just a good human being with a decent soul, and Gale is a leader who doesn’t fear much. I have to say that I liked the inclusion of both Finnick and Johanna. Finnick is at least one male who isn’t in love with Katniss, and Johanna isn’t afraid of disliking Katniss.

If you haven’t read the trilogy yet, I would obviously recommend starting at the first book, and then working your way through. This book’s movie is being released within the next month, so I would advise you to read it and then we can bitch together if they don’t do it justice 😉

What I love about Dystopian Fiction is that there is always a slight possibility that something similar might happen. It is horrifying on a true level, and I can see why it is a plausible idea. Governments routinely terrify their citizens, and use force to keep them in check. Perhaps it is unfair to compare most countries to Panem, but I can think of a few where children are sent into war and expected to survive no matter what the cost.

5 Things Friday: 5 Things happening right now

5 things friday pic

South-Africa’s multiply disordered government

Our President put his foot in his mouth – Again

E-tolls is a new tolling system on the roads in Johannesburg that the South-African government hopes to implement. It is angering motorists because it is going to be ridiculously expensive, we are already paying an astronomical amount of tax and fuel prices are already so high nobody needs extra expenses.

Mr. Jacob Zuma released a statement saying plenty of unsavoury things about the anger directed towards E-tolling. Read it here. Great job, sir. We know you can’t run for President again but I’m sure your political party is super chuffed with you calling their primary voters backwards. GREAT JOB. I am actually imagining the Democratic Alliance (another political party in South-Africa) hosting a party in your honour.

Watching

I am currently watching Suits now. I expected it to be good, really, but was surprised at how much I am entertained by it. It is cut-throat, fast paced and high powered, and the characters are incredibly sarcastic and driven, and I love that.

suits

Movies

There are finally good movies being released. I love the whole experience of the movie – going to the cinema, getting popcorn, sitting in the dark and watching something come to life on a huge screen. I haven’t been the movies for a bit – mostly because I was broke, very busy and there weren’t any great movies on. THAT is why I am so excited. I’m going to make some time soon and go see at least one or two the next few weeks.

On the 8th of November, Thor: The Dark World is being released here in South-Africa. I can’t wait to see what Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman have done as Thor and Jane again.

thor-the-dark-world

Next on my watch list is Catching Fire which will be released on the 22nd of November. Part of the Hunger Games series focuses on Peeta and Katniss when they get sent back into the arena only a year after they won the Games together. Katniss knows President Snow hates her, but will she be able to be victorious again? I am skeptic about the actor cast as Finnick Odair, but I am willing to be open minded and see if they bring the second book justice.

Catching-Fire-catching-fire-35716281-600-840

Excited

In a month’s time, I am traveling to Cape Town, South-Africa, to go to the WSPID conference. Cape Town is one of the places I haven’t visited in my own country, and I am honestly excited to go there.

Desperately in need of:

A car,

A new haircut.

Time: For studying, Reading, Relaxing, Sleeping and Watching Series. All these tasks are crammed into the little time I have in the evening, and it is exhausting me. Luckily I am on study leave next week, so I have time then to study.

What’s happening in your life right now?

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Book Review: The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

Book: 41/100

hunger games trilogy bookset

The post-apocalyptic trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockinjay) takes place in Panem. Panem consists of the Capitol and twelve (formerly thirteen) poorer districts. All the districts are under strict supervision and surveillance from the Capitol. The Capitol residents live in extravagance, richly supplied with food, technology and possessions. In comparison, the other Districts suffer from famish, starvation and cruelty from the Peacekeepers.

To keep the citizens of Panem mindful of the control their State has over them, they are forced to selects two teens each year to compete in the Hunger Games – a closed off arena where only one person can exit alive – the one who managed to kill all the other contestants.

The series’ main protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12. She keeps her family alive by illegally hunting with her best friend Gale in the woods. On the day of the Reaping, Katniss’ little sister Prim is chosen as the female tribute for District 12. Horror-struck, Katniss volunteers to save her sister from certain death. The male tribute from 12 is Peeta Mellark – a boy who saved Katniss from starvation years ago by tossing her burned bread.

The two head off to the Capitol. They are escorted by Haymitch Abernathy, the winner of the 50th Hunger Games, and the ridiculous Effie Trinket.  Haymitch and Effie are responsible for informing the two how to proceed in the Hunger Games. Haymitch is constantly in a drunken stupor, but agrees to help the two when he realises that they could make a strong team.

Katniss is transformed by her stylist Cinna in time for her interviews in front of the entire Panem. The crowd is wowed by her and Peeta, especially after Peeta confesses that he is in love with her.

When the Hunger Games begin, Katniss heads off alone and tries to let the other tributes take each other out before she has to interfere. She survives starvation and burns, and manages to kill some of the Careers – people who train especially to partake in the Hunger Games, by setting Trackerjackers loose on them when they think they have her cornered. She finally finds an ally in little Rue, from District Eleven, but Rue is killed by another Tribute a few days later.

When they receive an announcement that two tributes are allowed to live at the end of the Games if they come from the same District, Katniss starts searching for Peeta. She finds him desperately injured, and tries to heal him. To save him, she needs to head to a battleground where medicine will be waiting. She nearly dies at the hand of a vicious Tribute, but Thresh, the male Tribute from Rue’s District, saves her as thanks for helping Rue. She manages to save Peeta, and together they start hunting together.

Will the devious Capitol keep true to their promises? And will Katniss and Peeta ever make it out alive – and in love?

Rating: 7/10

This world-wide success really deserves its fortunes. It is well written, horrifying, and truly addictive. The book probably became so successful because the story is plausible, and has roots in history. People already are in the “survival-of-the-fittest” mode. A transition like this, where people are addicted to watching teens kill each other in arenas, isn’t that farfetched.

Characters

Katniss Everdeen: Sullen, a forced provider, and bad tempered. If I had to hunt every day to feed my family, I might turn into the same person. However, her blindness towards Peeta’s feelings is the worst. It gets worse in the other two books, where she has to deal with her attraction towards Gale and Peeta, so she is the most tolerable in book one.

Peeta Mellark: I am always a little bit in love with Peeta. He is so selfless and kind. Katniss really doesn’t deserve his unconditional love. He proves himself to be clever and courageous when he hooks up with the Careers to protect Katniss, and stubborn (which isn’t actually a bad quality in a person) when he fights with Katniss for going to the Cornucopia to get the person. I really think he is well written, and has more depth than the other characters.

Gale Hawthrone: Between Peeta and Gale, I find Gale slightly more appealing as he is such a fierce fighter and injustice angers him. He is rough around the edges, and his softer side is only obvious when he is with Katniss, and even then he is a difficult man. Both he and Katniss are edgy, mostly because of the life they live in the poorer part of District 12 – that is where Peeta has the disadvantage of not completely understanding where she coming from.

Conclusion:

I read the series to see what the hype was about, and I am really thankful I did. I would recommend it to everyone – it is shocking and scary and impossible to put down.