All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

on October 25, 2010

**Please Note – Spoilers for The Hunger Games**

It has been several months since the controversial end of The Hunger Games and Katniss and Peeta are about to do their victory tour. Katniss is disturbed one day when she has a visit from President Snow who informs her that there have been uprisings in several of the District’s which have sprung from the ending of The Hunger Games. He makes it clear that he holds Katniss responsible for these small pockets of defiance and stresses to her that she must use her new status as current victor to quell the rebellions, lest something unfortunate happen. Katniss, fearing the safety of her family once again steels herself to play the loving girlfriend to Peeta, even though the two have not had much to do with each other since after The Hunger Games. Peeta as always, will play his part for the camera’s with convincing aplomb. Katniss chooses not to burden him with news of President Snow’s visit and instead chooses to confide in Haymitch for advice.

All does not go to plan however, when in District 11, which was Rue’s District, the people show their respect to Katniss for the way she treated their female tribute. Katniss sees firsthand that things are as serious as President Snow has claimed and that the disrespect being shown to the Capitol is there for all to see. After witnessing a man who gave her the same three fingered salute she gave Rue upon Rue’s death, being shot in the head, Katniss realises that her and Peeta are actually making things worse. Their unity, their gestures of what they thought were goodwill, are showing them as the motivation for the movement against the Capitol. Katniss and Peeta beat the Capitol at their own game when they refused to follow the rules of The Hunger Games and now it seems, the citizens want their turn.

President Snow lets Katniss know that what she has done is not enough, the uprisings are growing in number and intensity. Katniss wants to run but cannot decide how best to go about it and is torn because part of her wants to stay and fight too. She just doesn’t want her family to be hurt. As she gets ready to help mentor District 12’s next tributes, as The Hunger Games is coming up again, Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch are rocked with what the Capitol has come up for the 75th anniversary of The Hunger Games. Every 25 years the Capitol invests a new ‘twist’ just to mess with the minds of the citizens a little more – called the Quarter Quell. The previous one, on the 50th anniversary was that they doubled the participants to 48 with each District sending 4 tributes. This time however, they pull something out of the hat that no one would have predicted: for the 75th Hunger Games, each District must choose their tributes from their list of previous winners. For a district like District 12 there’s not many to choose from with it’s poor record – they have only 3 living victors. One is Haymitch and the others are Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. Being the only female victor, Katniss must go. She must face The Hunger Games for the second time in a year. She knows this is the Capitol’s answer to her being the motivation, the mascot of the uprisings. They will kill her and with that, hopefully kill the rebellion.

I enjoyed Catching Fire just as much as I enjoyed The Hunger Games ripping through it in probably the same amount of time. I have come to like Katniss even more after this novel, her actions in it shed her in a positive light. She’s trying hard to do the right thing but the right thing is different depending on who she wants to do the right thing for. Her first instinct is to flee at the sign that she (and therefore her mother and sister) are in trouble but she doesn’t do that. She wants to fight the Capitol, to try and free her people from their poverty and oppression, especially when it seems that the laid back way of law enforcement in District 12 has become a thing of the past. When she learns she must face The Hunger Games again, I was surprised at the choices she made and how she went about that. It suggested to me that she had definitely grown as a character from the first novel and she had learned a thing or two. While she is smart about that, she is a bit dense about some other things, namely her allies and what Haymitch is doing. It takes her quite a long time to figure out what’s going on and at the end, she still doesn’t really know.

I have come to the conclusion that the ‘love triangle’ as such no longer really means anything to me when I read these novels. Gale and Peeta, Katniss loves neither of them, and there’s no real reason for her to. She’s young, Gale has only ever been seen as her best friend and hunting partner and she’d never spoken to Peeta before the first Hunger Games they were in. His declaration of love for her was completely out of left field and she went along with it to survive as long as she could and because she had figured out what Heymitch was doing with the gifts. Gale is a character I like, but given he’s only in each book for about 20 pages, it’s very hard to get more of a handle on him. I wish he was more involved and he may be more so in Mockingjay now that it looks like we will move away from The Hunger Games. Peeta is nice – almost too nice. I wish he’d lose it just once and go beserk at Katniss (or actually, anyone) just to make him a little more realistic! I also really enjoyed a little more insight into Haymitch and what went on during The Hunger Games that he was victorious in. It helps just explain that little bit more about why he is the way he is now and I’d love to know even more about him in the next (and final!) novel.

The pacing was still perfect for me, the storyline even more intriguing. President Snow is a chilling villain, creepy enough for you to give his threats credibility. The peripheral characters introduced for The Hunger Games were an interesting mix, nice to see some really unexpected choices and they weren’t all just cliched Careers-types. The added interest of the rebellions and the uprisings gives you more to hope for, in terms of the Districts and we learn a bit more about some of them as Katniss and Peeta travel through them on their tour, as Katniss hears more of the protests against the Capitol and her and Peeta meet fellow tributes from them for the 75th Games.

Perhaps my only criticism is that this book is a fraction too similar to The Hunger Games, when it forces Katniss and Peeta to go back in and face the arena again. I understand the reasons for doing that, and for bringing all the tributes together in that way in order to get some very key people in the same place at the same time, but it does mean that a few scenes ring some sharp bells of familiarity. That’s another reason why I’m looking forward to reading Mockingjay, for a shift in a new direction. I’m looking forward to getting away from the Games and into the rebellion further and exploring the area in which Katniss found herself at the end of the book. I think that whole idea was very well done – and of course the last line in this novel was so explosive, such a cliffhanger that it made me very glad I’ve already got Mockingjay sitting on my shelf and I didn’t have to wait like the people following these books from the time they were first published must have!

Despite that – still a great book and a really riveting read.

9/10

Book #83 of my 100 Book Challenge

This  book almost counts for  my YA Dystopian Challenge, held over at Bart’s Bookshelf by Darren. This is the fifth novel I’ve completed for this challenge now! Yay!


2 responses to “Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

  1. Marg says:

    I was a bit disappointed by the repetition in this book as well, and I was a bit worried about that when Mockingjay was coming out as well!

    Waiting for Mockingjay was torture, especially knowing that it was out, and I was waiting for my order to arrive!

  2. Brooke says:

    Thanks for hoppin’ by my blog this weekend! I love the UK cover for this book. I agree about the love triangle, but actually enjoyed ‘Catching Fire’ more than ‘Hunger Games’!

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