Catching Fire

4901257732 52c41b878c Catching FireBuy Catching Fire
Special $10.57 (Regular price: $17.99)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
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?

  5 comments for “Catching Fire

  1. Kat Zhang
    August 26, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Can’t wait to see what you think of MOCKINGJAY :)

  2. August 27, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Thanks for your comment, Kat! Keep your eyes peeled for it – it’ll be my next post! :)

  3. Heather / you_were_almost_right
    December 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for the comment on my review!

    Yeah… a lot of people, when they saw I was reading The Hunger Games, sent me messages saying “Oh, the first one is the best…”

    What in the WORLD are they talking about?! I can only assume they dislike what I found to be the more realistic aspects of the second two books, and that’s that not everyone in a story you love is going to make it.

    I was *so* thankful I read these books after they’d all come out.
    As soon as I finished Catching Fire, I went on a mad frenzy to find my copy of Mockingjay.

    I really loved your review of it too :)

  4. December 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    You’re welcome, Heather. It’s my pleasure.

    I agree with you that the realistic aspects probably weren’t to everyone’s liking. Not only because some great characters die, but some of the ones you love will never be the same again after their experiences. We always see Haymitch as a drunkard, but I imagine he’d be a very different person had it not been for being forced to live through some of the worst violence in his life. As I’ve said to a number of people since I finished reading these books, Suzanne Collins shows what it’s really like to suffer from PTSD, whether it’s caused by a war or any number of other traumatic events. It might be easier to turn away from these situations, but personally, I think knowing the truth of the story, rather than a fantasy, is much better.

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