“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

This is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy.  I read it immediately after finishing “The Hunger Games,” because quite frankly, the first book doesn’t really end.  I’m going to do my best to review the book without providing major spoilers from the first one, even though it means that my review might be a bit more vague than I would like.

During “The Hunger Games,” Katniss performs a gesture that is interpreted by dissidents within the twelve Districts as a revolutionary action, as it symbolically frees her from the Capitol’s power.  She didn’t intend for it to have major ramifications, but rather viewed it as a way out of doing something she didn’t find to be morally acceptable.

“Catching Fire” begins as the ever-so-creepy President Snow, who reminds me a bit of a bloodsucking vampire, shows up at Katniss’ door, warning her to behave herself and to conform to the Capitol’s idea of a victor.   He threatens her family, knowing fully well that Katniss has become the unofficial symbol of the revolution.  Meanwhile, the 75th Hunger Games are about to begin, and since it’s on a 25-year mark, the games operate by different (and more sadistic) rules.

One thing that I noticed is that this book had much better editing than the first one.  It makes me think that the editors were a bit lazy until they realized that “The Hunger Games” was a hit, and then they finally got their act together.  It’s definitely a good thing that they did, but I still wish that they’d have gotten it right in the first book too.

In this book, I got a bit annoyed with the way that Katniss tended to flip-flop between liking Gale and liking Peeta more.  On one hand, I realize that she does genuinely like both of them, but it seems to me that she’s leading both of them on until she makes up her mind, even if she doesn’t intend to, and it is basically a lot of teenage drama.  At the same time, this book is written for a young adult audience, so I try to overlook it.

This book made me appreciate Haymitch a lot more.  In the first book, he’s portrayed as a continuously drunken alcoholic who is there mostly for comic relief.  In “Catching Fire,” he starts to rise above that role, and we begin to understand that he drinks to drown the memories of competing in and winning the Hunger Games and his self-hatred for being a tool of the Capitol.  His interactions with Katniss and Peeta have inspired him to take action, and he becomes increasingly important in this book and the next..

Despite the relationship drama, I did like this book a lot better than the first one.  Revolutions against tyranny tend to make good stories, and as with “The Hunger Games,” I couldn’t put this book down.  “Catching Fire” doesn’t really end, which is why I recommend reading the trilogy on a weekend or even a long weekend so that you don’t end up pulling an all-nighter and then being exhausted and mildly incoherent at work the next day.

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This book counts toward The 2012 Science Fiction Experience hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings and the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Baffled Books.

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Categories: Fiction, Sci Fi, YA | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on ““Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

  1. The love triangle did feel much more poorly handled in the second book… Thank you for reminding me that I liked Haymitch’s development though! I didn’t like 2 and 3 as well as the first, but some of the new characters/developing characters were bright spots.

    • He was such a fun character, and it was neat to see how he developed. I think that two and three definitely have a different tone than the first book, which was interesting. I liked them because I tend to like seeing social and political developments; I liked the idea of a revolution against the Capitol. It definitely seems like most people prefer the first one though. 😛

  2. I enjoyed this series – the 3rd was my least favourite so I’ll be interested to see what you think.
    Lynn 😀

    • I’ll be posting that review tomorrow. I liked the third except for once scene in the ending–the one with Prim and the kids. It was a lot harder to review the second and third books because I was trying to avoid using spoilers from the first books if I could help it.

  3. Catching Fire was my favorite of the trilogy too. I mean, come on, it gave us Finnick! 😉 I’m like you that I didn’t care too much for the love triangle. I’m actually allergic to them I think. And yes, Haymitch is awesome. I found him to be the more interesting character out of everyone in these books.

    • Haha… there are worse things than love triangles to be allergic to, although I’m totally adding them to my list of allergies. *evil grin*

  4. I actually enjoyed the first book more (though I agree about the editing points). I guess it was mainly a result of the things you chose to overlook because it’s a YA book. I can’t stand teenage drama. I was having flashbacks to when my middle school students made me read the Twilight series. I’m even more disappointed with the third book, though I haven’t finished it yet (which to me kind of speaks for itself, seeing as I finished the first two books almost a month ago now).

    • The drama was more annoying in books two and three, but I liked that they had become more about the idea of the revolution and got into the history of the districts a bit more. Then again, when books in a trilogy don’t end I tend to have a hard time separating them…

  5. Everyone reading these now and writing reviews is making me want to re-read the series. I read it so fast and thoroughly enjoyed them. Maybe I’ll re-read them before I go see the film.

    • It took me a while to finally decide to read them; I’ve had friends telling me that I should read them for a long time. I’m hoping that the film is decent; the trailer does look pretty promising.

  6. I need to read this series.

    • It’s interesting; normally I don’t read a lot of YA novels, mostly because I read them so quickly, but this series was worth seeing what all the fuss was about. 😀

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