Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review - Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 391 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

It has been six months since Peeta and Katniss defied the government and were both crowned "victor" of The Hunger Games. Six months where things have achieved some sense of normalcy. Katniss' family and Peeta now live in the victor's village with Haymitch and they are now, more then ever before, an extended family. Katniss still hunts and is uncertain how things are with Gale, there was a tentative kiss, but that could mean anything...But now the tour of the Districts is upon them and Katniss has a rather terrifying visit from President Snow. There is disquiet and rumors of rebellion and Katniss must quell these uprisings with her overwhelming public displays of affection to Peeta to prove once again to the world that she and Peeta are not revolutionaries but two kids so in love they didn't understand the meaning of their actions. But it is obvious that the actions of two kids can not make up for the horrors that people have suffered at the hands of the capital, not even the prospect of Katniss and Peeta getting married can put out the fire that has been lite under these people. The only questions remains...with this year being the 75th anniversary of The Hunger Games, the thrid ever quarter can the Capital make Katniss pay for what she has done?

While I enjoyed the first book in Suzanne Collins' series it really did not grip me like Catching Fire did. I think this is down to two distinct factors, more of a glimpse into the post apocalyptic society that is Panem and character growth. In the first book, while I loved what we saw of District 12, it just wasn't enough, we were too quickly taken away to the candy coated world of the Capital, which I don't really like, except as a contrast to the lives in the Districts. While I can see the reasoning for Collins' doing this in the first book, seeing as each District is kept compartmentalized from each other, I really wanted to know more. But in a book written in first person narration, we can only expect to know what Katniss knows, which at the beginning is not so much, seeing as she lives within this compartmentalized society. Once she wins though she becomes something more to society, and I'm not talking about as a rallying point for a revolution, I'm talking about being above those she grew up with in her District, but also being not on the same footing as those in the Capital. Even more so because in District 12 there are only three others like her, but three others who when combined with the other past victors are an oddity to this society, but eventually they become something so much more. So with her new found "other" status she starts to learn more and therefore we learn more. We get to see the other Districts, though not in as much detail as I was initially expecting within the context of the "Victory Tour," it was enough to show Panem more completely. Also later on through Katniss' interactions with the other previous victors we learn more about each district, where the seafood comes from, where electronics come from, and by the availability of these goods the uprisings can be charted. It's a whole fascinating structure of Districts as basically serfdoms, and I just can't get enough of it! This is what I was looking for in the first book and I finally got it delivered!

But what I find most important is the character development. In the first book Katniss herself as such an autonomous little person, she has her few people who matter to her, but she has basically shut out the world around her. Again, this was on purpose, but she really kept infuriating me with her obliviousness to the world around her, her inability to see that she was loved and respected by those near her, Peeta in particular. When she won, when she finally grasped that the game she was playing meant something entirely different to Peeta, a wall finally cracked, something actually broke through to her. Therefore the Katniss we see in Catching Fire is a little more mature, a little more willing to let people in, a little more willing to expand her family circle and help others. Also a little more willing to fight for those she loves, and not just Prim this time, but for Peeta and Gale and for the past victors. She has forged alliances and not ones that will be easily broken when the time comes, but ones that mean something, ones that she will be willing to risk the wrath of the government for. She had to come to this realization of the world around her in order for her to become the person she needed to be in order to embrace revolution. You can not fight for something you can't grasp. When all you see or feel is that which affects you, then you are never going to hoist the banners, sound the trumpet and fight for the greater good. Katniss has become an empathic being, as have others, even some of the Capitals residents, and as an empathetic person I can relate far better to someone who feels the same and is not so self reliant and walled in. This is a Katniss I can like as well as admire. And who knows...empathy could easily be the emotion that could end these games forever...


I absolutely LOVE this series. While I definitely agree w/you that Catching Fire is much more gripping and drew me in immediately, I still like book one more. I'm not sure why exactly, except that maybe it was completely new to me and I recall that feeling of sitting at the edge of my seat, lol! Also, I don't really view them so much as separate books; instead they're more like an ongoing story and I'm waiting in nail-biting suspense at the foot of grandpa's chair for the rest of the tale. It feels like the kind of story that gets told by grandpas :)

I really have to get into this series; everybody's raving about it. If only I had more hours in the day to read...

My theory is if Time Turners would be readily available we would gobble them up! I mean extra time to read, totally legitimate use!

I really enjoyed The Hunger Games and Catching fire. I can't wait for Book 3 and the movie. :D

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