Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Book 2)
By Suzanne Collins
Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster children for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull's-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol...
WARNING: This review will most likely contain spoilers from book one.
So as I mentioned in my review of The Hunger Games I enjoyed this series, and absolutely devoured it. Now I've heard from other people that they think it lost a little steam after the first book, but perhaps because of the familiarity I felt with the first book, I actually really loved this book, perhaps even more than book one.
After book one I had a basic idea of where the next book would head. But book two went in a completely opposite direction than I had ever thought possible. At first everything seems to be OK, Katniss is living in her old home and still hunting, her family no longer has to worry about food or keeping warm, and life seems to be moving on at a more regular pace. Things are awkward (read: non-existent) with Peeta thanks to her admission on the train at the end of book one, and she has the district tours to struggle through, but really, what's there to complain/worry about? Well it seems everything. It appears that the rebellious actions of Peeta and Katniss in the last games have acted as a war cry for people in the Districts to rally behind, and the president has made it very clear that if Katniss can't convince the districts that she loves Peeta and that she's not for a rebellion, then everyone she loves will...disappear.
In the first Hunger Games Suzanne Collins documented an awful aspect of the Panem dystopian society. Horrific as it is for you and me, it was, by all accounts, fairly standard for their games. 24 children fight to the death, all while people watch, cheer, bet, and get sucked up in the excitement of it all. However, in Catching Fire it deviates from the norm. They're not used to this kind of frenzy, or level of admiration or push for a rebellion, and Peeta and Katniss are punished over and over again for their role in it all.
If you had told me that book two would take place, once again, in the Hunger Games arena, I probably would have scrunched up my nose and groaned. But I actually thought the way it was handled, as one of the quarter anniversary twists, and as a way to easily kill off two annoyances, was intriguing and smart. Not only does the president get what he wants, but he firmly demonstrates to the rest of the districts how much power he has, and how stupid it is to act out from what he deems appropriate. It wasn't perfect and I felt like some of the deception and secrets were a little sloppy, but I liked that the games introduced a new group of wiser and less obedient characters and that it acted as a method to inspire more rebellion in the districts.
It was during this book that the love triangle between Gale, Peeta and Katniss was further developed. Personally I found the triangle a little lacking, because Gale truly seemed more like an older brother than a potential lover, but I did enjoy it for a different reason. Gale, to Katniss, has always been a symbol of rebellion. He was the guy who hunted with her illegally and who constantly spoke out against The Capitol. Peeta on the other hand, even if he was a saviour to Katniss early in life, is and will forever be connected to the Hunger Games. In book one he manipulated hundreds and thousands of people by constructing the love interest between him and Katniss, essentially saving their lives, but also acting in a very Capitol way. So the love triangle, to me, is less about which of the two boys is more her type, or more deserving of her love. Instead it's a matter of Katniss choosing the direction of her future, will she comply with the Capitol and be with Peeta, or will she rebel, and perhaps start a better life with Gale?
This book played havoc with my emotions, I was up, down, all over the place! Unlike book one, I had no clear idea where this book was heading, so I was taken on the roller-coaster of emotion and action that Suzanne Collins intended. This book was the perfect book to travel between the youth and naivety of the first book, and the balls to the wall rebellion that will occur in the final instalment. A great follow up.