>> Thursday, June 10, 2010
TITLE: Catching Fire
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
SERIES: Second in the Hunger Games trilogy, comes after The Hunger Games.
REASON FOR READING: I want to know how things will turn out.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.NOTE: This is in no way a stand alone book. You need to have read The Hunger Games to understand what is going on. Reading Catching Fire first, or even reading what it is about, will probably ruin The Hunger Games for you, so turn back now if you're new to this series!
Anyway, for those of you who are still here: After the stunt she pulled to win the Hunger Games in the previous book, the Capitol has come to see Katniss as a threat to its control over the rest of the country. Revolution is in the air in many of the districts, and Katniss has become a symbol of it. Not to mention that the authorities clearly resent that she managed to out-manouver them and beat them at their own game.
So despite the fact that she's supposed to live the rest of her life enjoying the fruits of her victory, things are not easy for Katniss. Even if she wanted to embrace the life a Hunger Games winner is supposed to have, and just enjoy herself, ignoring what the rest of her people are going through (which she doesn't), she soon realises that wouldn't be possible, anyway. The President and the Capitol authorities are definitely not ready to leave her alone.
CF is just as much of a nail-biter as THG was. I thought it was going to focus mainly on political intrigue and on Katniss manouvering the shark-infested waters of Panam politics, and that's more or less what we get in the first sections of the book. I especially enjoyed that this part of Catching Fire has a slightly larger focus than THG, and we get a better idea of what's going on in other districts, and not just in District 12.
A bit later in the book, however, things change dramatically. I'm not going to reveal what happens, but in a way, I suppose those developments feel like a bit of a retread of book 1. On the other hand, though, they were extremely exciting and I loved the opportunity to meet other characters, and get an idea of the potential long-term consequences victory in the Hunger Games could have.
Katniss is just a wonderful a character as she was in the first book. She's still got her pragmatism and determination to stay alive, but I felt she'd grown quite a bit from the character she was when we first met her. She´s still as clueless as ever about things that are quite obvious to the reader, but I didn't really mind that. I felt that there was an element of unconscious denial there; she didn't want to know (with that knowledge comes great responsibility, I guess *g*), so she ignored all clues.
One of the things that has kept many of us reading is the romantic triangle, and there are definitely developments there. I'm a Peeta fan, so that element was slightly disappointing, since the developments on that front were much more exciting in THG. Maybe book 3 will be more balanced? I can't wait to find out!
The only thing I disliked, I disliked quite a bit. That was the ending. I felt it was a big let down. There are cliff-hangers, and then there are cliff-hangers, and this was definitely the sort that comes out of nothing and gives absolutely no closure. I don't care for feeling manipulated into buying the next book, and the worse part is, it was unnecessary, because, see the previous paragraph? I would have read the next book even if I had got a bit more here. Collins needs to trust the power of her stories a bit more, I think!
MY GRADE: It was a B+ right up until the ending, but ended up a B.