Thursday, 31 October 2013
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #2)
I am terrible at reading and completing series of books. I read The Hunger Games back in March 2011 and only now have I got around to reading the next book in the series. Hopefully I won't wait another two and a half years to pick up Mockingjay!
Warning: this review contains spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. If you haven't read them yet, proceed with caution!
Catching Fire picks up a few months after the end of The Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta are living with their families in Victor's Village and trying to get life somewhat back to normal. But life in most of the districts is far from normal; Katniss' trick at the end of the Hunger Games has been viewed as an act of rebellion against the Capitol and violent uprisings are spreading. With their victory tour coming up, President Snow himself pays Katniss a visit and threatens her - she must find a way to calm the districts, or there will be severe consequences. But things have already gone too far for that; Katniss is a symbol of a growing revolution and she's considered too dangerous to live a normal life.
I kept putting off reading Catching Fire because I thought that Hunger Games had a strong ending and actually worked well as a stand-alone book. But my husband has read and enjoyed the whole series, and I want to see the new film when it comes out, so I decided to finally take the plunge. And I'm genuinely glad I did. It was great to go back to District 12 and find out a bit more about what life is actually like in Panem for ordinary people. I enjoyed the Victory Tour as we got to visit several other districts with Katniss and Peeta and the hints of rebellion were well done. When there's a crackdown in District 12, it doesn't come as a surprise.
What I was most worried about in this book was the fact that I already knew that Katniss would have to go into the arena and play the Hunger Games again. I thought this would come across as overly repetitive from the first novel and that it was a bit of a lazy plot device. But actually, it worked. The Capitol need to eliminate Katniss but she is far too popular for them to murder her, as that would incite a genuine revolution. So it makes sense to hold a special Victor's edition of the Games and hope that it solves the problem for them. I liked meeting the previous victors and the Games themselves had a very different feel to them, there was far more co-operation are more desire for survival.
The only thing that annoyed me in this novel was Katniss herself. I think she's a great character but she's not too good on picking up on clues. I felt like it was obvious that there was some kind of underground conspiracy going on with regard to the Games themselves and District 13, but she was truly oblivious despite numerous clues. Whilst the ending didn't come as a total surprise to me, as I had figured out something was going on, there was enough of a cliffhanger to make me keen to pick up Mockingjay over the next couple of months.
All in all, a fast-paced and enjoyable read that stands up well next to it's predecessor.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2009
My Edition: Scholastic, 2011
Score: 4 out of 5