Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire is the second in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. I reviewed the first book, The Hunger Games, a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I was not disappointed by this book. The writing is as fast-paced and exciting as the first novel, and my heroine is the same in all her imperfect, defiant, and gutsy glory. I couldn’t put Catching Fire down (and stayed up until 2:30am to finish it in a 3 hour stretch).

In summary, once more we meet up with Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, only this time they are victors of the Hunger Games and back in District 12. They live in new houses, have plenty of money, and don’t want for much of anything. But with the Hunger Games over and her very public relationship with Peeta in limbo, Katniss finds herself falling for Gale, her best friend, in secret. A best friend who is also in love with her. Unfortunately, it is a secret that is known by her enemies, particularly President Snow. To make matters worse, President Snow hasn’t forgotten their stunt with the berries (forcing the Capitol to proclaim two victors in the last Hunger Games), and now he has warned Katniss that she must quell any inkling that the berries were any kind of symbolic act of rebellion against the Capitol, and instead only a simple wish of someone desperately in love. But the spark has been made, and Katniss can no longer contain the fire that results. She is unable to convince anyone otherwise, including the president. To regain control and squash any rebellion, President Snow forces Katniss and Peeta back into the Games, where they learn that they are part of something greater – a far-reaching plan to unseat the Capitol, and one that has its fingers not only in the defunct District 13, but also in the Capitol itself. Fighting for survival, Katniss manages to escape the Games with the help of other District allies but in the end, is separated from Peeta who is captured by the enemy. Book 2 ends with Katniss unwillingly becoming the symbol of the rebellion (headquartered in District 13), and its figurehead…she is the mockingjay.

Catching Fire was thrilling from beginning to end. It was great to reconnect with the familiar characters from The Hunger Games and get to meet some new ones that were just as interesting as the old or even more so. While everything feels familiar, like the same style of narration, the novel is never boring or predictable. It does take a little adjustment and effort to work in the personalities and the ages of the new Hunger Games competitors but that in no means detracts from the pacing or the story itself. I did find that I wasn’t as interested in the mechanics of the arena this time but wasn’t sure that was due to the complicated nature of its clock structure or whether I was more interested in what was happening with the characters themselves (which is a big compliment to the author).

This book also seemed to be a lot more violent than the first. Death is an accepted casualty, as is walking on skulls or seeing piles of dead decomposing bodies. It didn’t offend me at all, it was just something I noticed. That said, I enjoyed the authenticity that it gave to the book – it felt real, like it was a darker and uglier world. Or maybe it was reflective that Katniss was growing up, and she herself was harder and viewing the world differently. I still retained the connection with Katniss in this book – she stayed true to herself (as well as to her personality the previous novel) and while she does seem older and wiser, at the core, she doesn’t change. She is still headstrong and compassionate and just as awesome.

Catching Fire was a great second installment of the series! Well worth the read, I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars. I already have Mockingjay in hand so stay tuned for my final review. Hopefully it will measure up to its predecessors.

Other Catching Fire reviews:-

1) In Bed With Books

2) Wands and Worlds

3) – Bookmarked!

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