The hunger games: Catching fire

I continued The hunger games with the second part, Catching fire. Unlike the first novel, this book is a little bit more deep into choices and consequences.

We see a more mature Katniss, who is back in her home town, but now facing the consequences of her actions to defy the Capitol. Her friends and family start to suffer, and the rest of the districts who take her as a role model of rebellion.

One one side she is torn by her hatred and rage at the capitol, and on other side her protectiveness of her family and friends is stopping her from doing what she would like to do.

She is forced to live a life of lies, preparing for a marriage she doesn’t want, make a victory tour she does not want, pretend to be someone she is not.

When the 75 years Hunger Games anniversary begins, she is faced again with the arenas, this time doing the ultimate challenge of the Capitol, escaping the Hunger Games before a victor could emerge. The rebellion she started is now full fledged, but she as a symbol, denies it, refuses to accept it, and it’s mostly because of the revenge the Capitol has taken upon her, as a punishment for her actions, the destruction of her home District 12.

Katniss is still a child, she plays her part in the rebellion, but things are way over her head: the other victors in the other districts want to do a great scale rebellion and need a leader. She and Peeta are pawns for this, to act as symbols, but at least stop to be the pawns for the Capitol, as it’s President want them to become a symbol of submission.

Although it presents a lot of dark themes, like pain, suffering, forced marriage, denial of human rights, The Hunger Games: Catching fire is a good adventure book, with a little bit more depth than the previous one, but quickly turning into a clone of Matrix (Matrix: Revolutions) where Katniss is a kind of Neo going to Zion to save the world.

Los ojos del tuareg

I read Los ojos del tuareg (Tuareg’s eyes) by Albert Vasquez-Figueroa.

The novel is a continuation of his previous novel, Tuareg, but it can be read independently, during the first pages we are introduced to the story. The characters are new and just slightly related. That being said, Tuareg’s eyes is about the life of a family who lives a simple life in the desert, about the rules in Tuaregs life, about honor and about tradition versus modernity.

We have a Tuareg family that has a very simple life in the desert, lonely, with barely enough water to survive. They even lose one of their family members in order to construct a well to get the water they need. They get stunned at the fact that when they offer someone hospitality, they are treated with hostility and they get their water reserves destroyed and face imminent death.

The find out that the western people decided to create a rally through the desert, a competition which they claim to be sportive, but in fact it’s done just for earning more money, creating advertising possibilities for companies willing to pay a lot of money, which they cannot do in a normal advertising slot.

Gacel , the main character and the leader of the Tuareg family, decides to follow the path of his ancestors, to seek justice for the injustice which was served to him, and to do that, he takes hostages, people who have no blame, and tries to force the owners of the Dakar rally to fix up his well, and surrender the criminal, so that his right hand is cut off, as it should be by the ancient law.

In here we can see the fact that Gacel wants to adapt to the new world, but he cannot give up his old ways, as he always claims that a Tuareg rather dies than loses his honor. He is being helped by a chopper pilot who understands him, and warns him that the rally owners would rather present history and facts using their own power: 6 innocent people killed by the Tuareg bandits, instead of telling the truth and trying to save the people’s life.

We can see the lack of moral interest from the owners, their interests, and the suffering which happens to everyone, including the people in the countries in which the rally takes place, the pilots themselves who may die or get hurt during the rally, and the people back home watching TV and spending their money and health buying more cigarettes as a consequence of commercials.

The action gets more cinema-like when a commando troop is sent in the desert to try to recover the 6 hostages, but only finding themselves at the mercy of the Tuaregs, after their water supply is being cut off, and facing extreme temperatures and sun.

Gacel manages to get justice done, and decides not to wound his criminal, but only by resorting to another big criminal, from Italian mafia, who helps him as thanks for letting his only son go, as he was part of the hostages.

However, life and the author does not let things unpunished, and sentences the criminal to a most likely death in the desert.

Los ojos del tuareg is an interesting novel, putting up some interesting ideas on the table, but very much a cinema-like story, which can be easily adapted to an action movie. I would have hoped to see more social aspects evolved, like the possibility of marriage for both boys and girls inside the Tuareg family, being alone in the desert is very unlikely; also with respect to the Tuareg traditions, except honor, I would have been interested to know more.

One interesting aspect is the effect of heat and desert on people’s life, which is very underrated in Europe, when looking at the nomads of Sahara.

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