058. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Publication: Scholastic Press (June 1, 2010), ebook, 404pp / ISBN 0439023491
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Read: March 28-29, 2012
Summary from Amazon:
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.
This review contains spoilers.
I think I was pretty lucky with Catching Fire, because I liked it way more than the first book. I didn’t just like it because it fixed a lot of the problems I had with The Hunger Games— I liked it because it showed Katniss growing as a person (albeit not in the more usual positive way that character growth tends to go), it introduced the rebellion factor, and there are way more interesting characters to read about. The pacing was faster, probably because there was less backstory to get through. And, unlike THG, in this one I think Katniss was more aware of her emotions, especially in regards to other people.
However, despite the fact that I ended up rating it 4.5 birds, I REALLY INTENSELY DISLIKED how stupid Katniss was for the majority of the story. Things that I assume were supposed to be plot twists and thus shocking were things that I figured out 50 years before Katniss did. I mean, maybe Katniss’ emotional issues were clouding her duducing abilities? But it was seriously ridiculous how OBVIOUS everything was to anyone who wasn’t Katniss. And then, when she did figure stuff out, she was so shocked! It was almost farcical, tbh.
Still, I loved it. I suppose the other tributes who got to shine in the spotlight for a bit made up for Katniss’ temporary brain death. I ADORED them. I loved Fennick, and Wiress and Beetee, and Johanna! Plus Peeta got to redeem himself from the first book, which was great. And Haymitch! I don’t know if it’s just because of Woody Harrelson’s portrayal in the movie, but I liked him a lot more in this book, too.
The actual story was very exciting, too. Katniss is much more proactive in em>Catching Fire than she was in The Hunger Games, by which I mean she made a lot more decisions and then acted on them. She decided to save Peeta during the 75th Games: she acted on that decision and protected him as best she could. She decided to stop Gale from getting beaten to death: she fought his attacker/punisher as best she could. Yay, action!Katniss!
Speaking of Gale: during the first book I was actually rooting for him to somehow still be able to have a romance with Katniss (mainly because at that point I disliked Peeta). It was during this second book, however, that I realized they’d never be together. There’s just no way that Katniss could ever be with anyone who hadn’t been through the Hunger Games. It’s like those stories about men who went off to war and came back to their wives and they didn’t understand each other any longer: violence and death and emotional trauma changes people, and while maybe a Gale and Katniss romantic relationship could have worked on some level, a romantic relationship between wouldn’t have been the thing that Katniss needed in order to start healing from her experiences. And since Gale didn’t seem to be able to understand that, OR the new Katniss, there’s no way they’d have ended up together. Not without some MAJOR character changes to Gale or Katniss, anyway.
All this becomes more obvious in the third book, of course! And that cliffhanger, eh? What a killer.
It was nearly perfect, despite the lackluster plot twists.
The Wertzone: “We’re more than halfway through the novel before the second Hunger Games kick off, and we’re not able to spend much time with those games before the conclusion arrives. This is a shame as Collins addresses some of the weaknesses of the first set of games, with many more contestants being identified and much better-characterised than first time around. The arena is also far more ingenious, with many more deadly traps. The games section of the novel and the conclusion are both rushed in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible before the final novel, which hurts the quality of this book.”
The Cheap Reader: “I wish there had been a bigger focus on the politics and social unrest of the people. It’s hinted at but never fully explored. Honestly once Katinss was back in the area I kind of forgot a bit about it since I didn’t seem like a big issue. Of course when you read the cliffhanger at the end of the book you’re left shocked and thinking you should have paid more attention.”
The Novel World: “I did have a problem with Katniss though. Throughout most of the book, I found her to be more naive than her character was originally set up to be in the first book. I found her fake love for Peeta to be somewhat alarming at how easily she could slip into the lovey-girlfriend role. Her impulses are emotionally driven, and not very accurate most of the time. She is overly suspicious of everyone around her, quick to cast accusations if anyone says or does something she doesn’t like. She and Peeta form a strong bond with their time in the arena, and then again on tour across the districts as the star-cross lovers, the Victors of the Hunger Games. Another thing that didn’t sit well with me is that Catching Fire seemed repetitive. It was a lot like Hunger Games, pretty much the same book, but with a few minor tweaks and twists at the end.”
Plus lots more.
You know how sometimes I’ll read a YA fantasy book thinking it’ll be focused on the fantasy part, and it’ll turn out to be a paranormal romance where the romance is the focus instead? I kind of think something like that happened to people with this series. I think some people (based on the first book, maybe?) thought it was a YA romance with sci-fi/dystopian elements, and instead it’s a YA sci-fi story with a romantic subplot. The romance is an important ASPECT of the story, but it’s not necessarily the main storyline. Know what I mean? And I think people who got invested in the romance aspect of the story were seriously disappointed with CF/Mockingjay, because they don’t follow the common plotlines of most YA romance books out there (especially ones with love triangles).
Personally, the fact that there was romance but that Katniss’ NON-ROMANTIC relationships with Peeta/Gale were more important to her than who she wanted to date was FABULOUS. It made me like the series even more than I already did! And I think that’s why I wasn’t disappointed with the ending of Mockingjay at all, which I’ll talk about some when I review it.
The author’s photo comes from Goodreads. It’s not mine! Book cover comes from Amazon. It’s not mine, either.