Although not as good as The Hunger Games, this book is still an excellent read and has only whetted my appetite for more.
If there’s one thing about about Suzanne Collins, it’s that she can spin a good yarn. Catching Fire is the sequel to Collins’s bestselling novel, The Hunger Games, which I found to be a great read—a bit shallow on the character development but excellent in plot development.
Catching Fire follows on from the ending of The Hunger Games and it’s not a standalone book. A few months have passed since Katniss returned home as a victor in The Hunger Games, and she’s trying to manage the consequences of her actions at the games.
She and fellow District 12 winner, Peeta, are due to start their Victory Tour, and she intends to pretend that she’s madly in love with Peeta, hoping to appease the Capitol—the central governement—that their act of rebellion in the games was due to love.
But Katniss is conflicted. There’s Gale, her pretend cousin, who is really something more. And when the president visits her and makes it clear that he hasn’t been fooled by her pretence, she’s desperate to save her family and loved ones from the clutches of the Capitol. She has two choices: marry Peeta or run away with Gale. The decision isn’t clear cut for Katniss because sometimes she thinks that maybe she feels something for Peeta, too.
In the end, most of Katniss’s choices are taken away from her. This year is the year of the Quarter Quell—the 25th anniversary of the rebellion quashed by the Capitol and the reason for The Hunger Games—and the twist is that the contestants must be selected from existing victors. Katniss, being the only female victor from District 12, is a shoo-in.
The rest of the story is a bit of a rehash of The Hunger Games, which is slightly disappointing. This time, though, Katniss enters the game determined to repay Peeta by ensuring that he survives. Convinced that nothing she does will change the president’s mind, Katniss doesn’t miss some opportunities to effectively give the Capitol the finger.
Unlike The Hunger Games, this time around Katniss is helped by allies. It’s a different dynamic that conveniently spares her having to kill most of the other competitors. Collins sets up some very interesting ambiguities between Katniss and the other contestants which kept me guessing right to the end of the book.
As I mentioned, it’s disappointing that the structure of the plot is very similar to The Hunger Games mainly because it highlights the weaknesses of the book for me. My main gripe with this book is that there’s not much character growth evident in Katniss. She’s still reactive, she doesn’t really think about the consequences of her actions, and for the most part she’s just swept along by other people’s actions and motivations.
What I did like about this book is that the love triangle is partially resolved—at least, to my mind, although some may disagree. Katniss makes a definite choice between Gale and Peeta (although I suppose this might change in the third book) and she chooses the guy I was barracking for. :-D
Nevertheless, Catching Fire is still a damn good read even if it doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessor. Collins’ writing isn’t all that profound but it suits the story she’s trying to tell. The action during the games is full of surprises and it’s difficult to guess how it all works out.
The ending is a cliffhanger, no doubt about it, and I almost didn’t read it for that reason. But I couldn’t help myself and now I can’t wait for the final book in this series.
Yay or nay?
It’s not as good as The Hunger Games, but this book is still an excellent read and has only whetted my appetite for the next book. Although Katniss doesn’t grow enough as a character, Collins makes up for it with an intricate plot and some fast-paced writing. But start with The Hunger Games because Catching Fire is not a standalone book.
This book is part of the Hunger Games Trilogy. The final book, Mockingjay, is due for release in August 2010.
Where you can buy this book
AUSTRALIA: Abbeys | Angus & Robertson | Australian Online Bookshop | Bookglobe | Booktopia | Boomerang Books | Borders | Co-op Bookshop | Dymocks | Fishpond | Galaxy | Gleebooks | Nile | QBD | Pages & Pages | Readings | Scholastic (Publisher) | More
EBOOKS: Not available
WORLDWIDE: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository
Books in the Hunger Games trilogy (UK/Australia)
Books in the Hunger Games trilogy (US)