Buy Catching Fire
Special $10.57 (Regular price: $17.99)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Reviewer: Melissa on August 26, 2010
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
When I first finished this novel Sunday morning, I just kind of sat where I was for a few minutes or so, thinking about everything that had happened toward the end of this book. When I was finally able to say anything, the first word out of my mouth was, “Wow!” To those of you who have already read Suzanne Collins second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, then I think you know exactly what I mean and how I felt. Unfortunately, to those of you haven’t yet read Catching Fire, “Wow” isn’t exactly the most descriptive word in the English language, so perhaps you’ll do better to know that this novel blew my mind.
If you haven’t read the first book in the series yet, please, check out my review of The Hunger Games first. Now, for those of you who have read the first book, CatchingFire begins about six months after the conclusion of the first novel when Katniss and Peeta are getting ready to take off on the Victory Tour. It’s a miracle that they both made it out of the Hunger Games alive, but the odds didn’t work completely in her favor. There are whispers of a rebellion building throughout the districts, which is something that the Capitol doesn’t like one bit. If these victors can’t prove beyond a shadow of doubt that they are mad for love with one another, then the results will be unthinkable.
Sometimes I’ve noticed that the second or third novel of a YA series isn’t quite as good as the first. In these cases, it’s almost as if the author only had an idea for one or possibly two novels, but was required by the publisher to draw the story out a little more, so the second or subsequent novels seem forced. With CatchingFire, however, Collins has really out done herself. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that she’s improved on a good thing.
Collins has managed to delve deeper into the main character Katniss. While some characters’ trajectories remain stable, Katniss depicts someone who has grown considerably from the young teen who first entered the arena. Nightmares plague her dreams just as an overwhelming fear for the safety of others plagues her waking moments. After being in the first games, the list of people that she cares about and attempts to protect has expanded considerably, and given the harrowing threats she’s received, it’s not surprising. While only her family and Gale registered on this radar before, her experience with Peeta means that his safety takes priority over her own at times. When you compare that to how suspicious she was of him and how poorly she read his thoughts and actions throughout the games, this is a big step forward.
While some things remain, including the Capitol’s cruelty and many of the philosophical questions that first attracted me to this series, there are important changes as well. Since a large number of the cast of characters were killed off in the first book (it’s the nature of the Hunger Games), you’ll find yourself being introduced to new characters. I think you’ll agree that it’s hard not to be charmed by Finnick, even if he is depicted as a bit of a playboy. Moreover, the rumblings of a growing revolution seem fitting given the Capitol’s increasing cruelty and raise new questions for the main characters, like when is an uprising acceptable, are there any limits to the atrocities that an institution can inflict upon others, and can you ever ensure that this cruelty won’t be able to reach you?
If you have been waiting to read this book, check out these Catching Fire video promos to get the sparks flying. It’s no surprise that this book is catching fire in both YA and adult circles, so the only question is are you ready for it?