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11 Jun 2012

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fuelled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before... and surprising readers at every turn.

I thought this was a gripping sequel.  It took off just after the events of The Hunger Games and showed us new aspects of the Capitol's obsession with the games.  The feasts, the tours, and interviews.  It's still the sick celebration we came to know in the first book.  Collins has continued to show a disturbed and brutal society who just don't understand what the effects are for the winners and the families of those who died.  Well, don't understand or don't want to.  Either way, the Capitol continue to shock me with their attitude and celebration of these games. 

It was nice to see Katniss finally letting her rebellious side out.  She was coming across as quite passive, letting others rebel against the capitol but I guess that was understandable.  She's only 16 and everyone she loves could be killed by President Snow if she continues.  She's only a young girl in the end.  But I was still pleased to see her turn around and go 'screw it'.  She tried her hardest to make it look like she's not causing a revolution but it still didn't make President Snow decide to spare her and her loved ones.  She realised that he had already decided the fate of her and her loved ones so it was time to give up pleasing him and fight back.  I like it when she takes on some authority and decides how she will act herself.  Sometimes I find Katniss being used by others too much and going along with what they say so it was nice to see some decision making from her.

What I could do without is the love triangle.  I'm just really tired of them in general and I think I would have liked to have seen Katniss, Peeta, and Gale develop as good, close friends who start working together to start a revolution.  The whole 'starcrossed lovers' idea just seems like a way to get Peeta and Katniss together in the first place and the continuation of this pretence just went OTT when it came to the new Hunger Games.  Katniss really is just jumping from one boy to the next and then changing her mind again.  It's just not working for me.

The scenes where Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, and Katniss start training together.  I loved that and I want to see more of that overall.  I think what those four need right now is to be a team together because all I see are characters at each other's throats.  A rebellion is no use when the protesting team can't even get on with one another.  I also kept imaging their training scenes to be like this which made it all the more awesome in my head.  Maybe I can petition for that song to be in the film?

I liked seeing a new arena and the dangers that lurked there.  I think this arena was more terrifying and threatening than the one in the first book.  This time around there was constant danger, not just from the contestants.  As for deaths - again, just as tragic.  We start to see President Snow hitting Katniss where it hurts as he starts targeting the people close to her.  A truly sad scene and I know I'm going to be tearing up in the cinema when I go to watch it.  As for the games, it was awful reading about young teenagers get killed but in this one it's just as bad.  This time around these are tributes who have families.  Who have young children waiting for their parents to come home but instead watch them die on live television.  Elderly tributes who you know have no chance but enter the games to give the other past winners from their a district a chance to live. 

I'm looking forward to seeing where the rebellion leads in the final book.


  1. I thought this was a strong sequel. Like you, I can do without the love triangle, though I wonder if this is more part of Katniss's character development. She grow up over the course of these three books, and that's something I was glad to see in CATCHING FIRE. She's starting to be more independent, deciding for herself how she's going to react. And that includes her attitude toward Gale and Peeta, which she can't totally resolve here--there's still one more book to go!

    Good review. :)

  2. That's a good point actually. If she takes a step and makes the decision on who she'll choose without stringing both boys along, I may be able to tolerate the love triangle. I'd just really like her to get to the end of this and make the choice. Where I am in Mockingjay now, I can see through her reactions who she is choosing but Gale keeps creeping back in there. I hope a decision is made soon.

  3. I loved CATCHING FIRE! :) I thought it was fantastic (while awful) that they ended up back in the Hunger Games. What a blow that was. I, too, found this arena so much scarier for the same reasons that you mention. As a whole, the story felt like it was getting steadily more sinister, which made it compelling (President Snow = creepy & evil).

    As for the Peeta/Gale/Katniss thing—I just never saw her with Gale. He's essentially the dude version of Katniss, practically like a brother, so it just seemed doomed from the beginning. Too many similarities between couples, and it's just plain boring.