Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
Young Adult/Futuristic
Hunger Games/Book 2
Scholastic Press/September 2009

*Spoilers for Book 1*

From the inside cover ~



Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their lvoe for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

I bought this shortly after it's release and only read it right before Mockingjay, the final book's release. Part of the reason I held off reading Catching Fire was because of hearing of the cliffhanger ending and the fact that I have a ton of books on the tbr pile. And there's the anticipation/expectation factor. Anticipating what will happen next - it's exciting not knowing. And expectations for the next step in the story arc. Will it go the way I want it to go or will the author take another route? The Hunger Games totally blew me away so I may have been hoping but not expecting Catching Fire to do the same. It's similar in that there is still a threat hanging over Katniss, even with winning the Games. She's wealthy now with a new home and plenty of food for her sister and mother. It seems like things are great but there's a darkness stalking Katniss and it's about to show itself.

The Games are over and Katniss is back in District 12. She's in familiarly territory with her family and friends. The problem is that she doesn't know what to do with herself. She suspects President Snow isn't done with her. He blames her for the troubles he's currently suffering and wants to pass on that suffering to Katniss. You can feel the tension in Katniss, she's waiting for the ax to fall, waiting for Snow's next move. She's also getting ready for the Victory Tour and she's dreading it. I don't think Katniss would have felt so alone if she had either Gale or Peeta by her side but they've both deserted her. You can't help but feel sorry for Katniss and how everything has turned out for her. Which is odd because it could have all turned out so much worse. She and Peeta are both alive but the changes that have happened and those still to come will prove to be just as arduous as the Games themselves.

The whole Victory Tour was hard to read. Katniss and Peeta had to practically relive the deaths of the other Games participants. Every stop on the tour meant the possibility of seeing the family and friends of a dead tribute. If you've read The Hunger Games then it comes as no surprise that the stop at District 11, Rue's district, is an emotional one. Katniss had grown so close to Rue during the games that seeing Rue's family was hard on her. ~

As usual, a special platform has been constructed at the bottom of the stage for the families of the dead tributes. . .

~ On Rue's. . . I'm not prepared for Rue's family. Her parents, whose faces are still fresh with sorrow. Her five younger siblings, who resemble her so closely. The slight builds, the luminous brown eyes. They form a flock of small dark birds.
page 58

Peeta uses his gift of words and tries to ease the sorrow of the families from District 11. It is Katniss who speaks from her heart, as is her habit, stumbling a bit but giving the families of Rue and Thresh something that only she can give. The way Collins writes Katniss' thoughts and dialogue, feels like it comes from Katniss' very soul. The thoughts and feelings of a young women who was thrown into situations that no amount of training could prepare her for.

The rebellion continues to heat up and President Snow has devised a way to show the rebels that the Capitol is where the power is and will not sit by and do nothing. There will be consequences for anyone who defies the Capitol and that puts Katniss and Peeta front and center. It is a dark, sinister and violent world that Collins has created but there does exist traces of hope among the violence and death. We saw it in The Hunger Games and again in Catching Fire. The hope isn't always easy to find and Katniss has her moments of doubt and despair but she does go on. I think sometimes, if you want a meaning or message in these books, that could be one of them. Finding the will to go on when others have given up or when you so desperately want to give up yourself. It's one of the main reasons I love the character of Katniss. She been through hell and she's not done but she continues on. Her years of taking care of her mother and sister have given her that will to go on and not give up.

While I didn't like Catching Fire quite as much as The Hunger Games, it is certainly a worthy addition to the trilogy. It shows the aftermath of what happens when you survive the games, making an enemy of the powerful Capitol in the process. We see how Katniss and Peeta deal with their fame and fortune as well as their guilt and sorrow. I do think this is a trilogy best for the older teens. It is violent and shocking at times and explores some very serious subjects. Collins is a gifted writer who brings out the emotions in her characters, making it an intensely emotional read.

Rating: A-

The Hunger Games (review)


  1. You still gave it a very, very good grade, Les :)

    Hmmm, I think I'm going to give Catching Fire a try. However, I won't be buying the book. For once, I'll wait for the library copy :)

  2. Nath ~ Oh, yeah. I still liked it a lot but it didn't blow me away like The Hunger Games did.

  3. Great review, Leslie. I didn't like Catching Fire as much as I loved Hunger Games, too... but like you, I still found it to be compelling and well written. Do you already have Mockingjay? I still haven't bought it!!! Acckk!!!

  4. Christine ~ I got Mockingjay on release day - 40% off w/Borders coupon! I read it and hope to have the review up this week. I liked parts but overall, my least favorite of the trilogy.