Overall Impression: A brilliant and enthralling second book from The Hunger Games trilogy that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
(To read my review of the first book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, click here)
Hello all 🙂 A worn out Becky takes a break out of her revision time to bring you the review of Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy! Wooho! Ok so I seem to have switched to third person. Bear with me my brain is a little fried okay? Since finishing the first book I’ve watched the Hunger Games official trailer about ten times and listened to the song Safe & Sound quite a bit too. So I’m getting extremely excited for the film release in late March!
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to discuss Catching Fire without ruining the first book from the series, in fact you can’t even read the blurb without it spoiling the first book The Hunger Games! So please, if you are planning on reading this series, now or sometime in the future, don’t read where I state there will be spoilers However, for those of you who have read the first book, this review will not contain any major spoilers about the book Catching Fire. 🙂
********************************* SPOILERS BEGIN **********************************
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.
To elaborate on the blurb above, the book begins several months after Katniss and Peeta’s experience participating in the Hunger Games, and Katniss is struggling to deal with the after effects. She no longer has a need to hunt, as she has plenty of money to provide for her family and therefore no longer understands where she fits in to District 12. Peeta has barely acknowledged her since their fight on the train journey home, and when he has, it’s stiff and formal. Gale is also giving Katniss the cold shoulder, angry with having to watch her on-screen romance with Peeta that must be kept up for the Capitol’s sake. Katniss’ hope of returning to a normal life after the Hunger Games are shattered when she realizes the impact her stunt with the berries has created, rumors of rebellion and unrest are the result of her cheating the Capitol at their own game. President Snow himself issues a warning that if she cannot convince the public that the berry stunt was simply a product of her undying love for Peeta, he will hurt her family and all those close to her. But the districts are determined to rebel, and nothing Katniss can do will stop them. The Capitols solution for this, is more terrible and cruel that Katniss could have ever imagined….
*********************************** SPOILERS END **********************************
The plot of Catching Fire starts off a lot slower than the first book, largely because of it centering around District 12 where Katniss lives. The general feeling of the first half of the book can only be described as the calm before the storm. Although there’s not much action, there is a dark undertone to everything that happens. This allows the plot to slowly build, starting off with small and what seem like inconsequential incidents, that eventually spiral into to serious life threatening situations. A couple of the scenes in this book genuinely moved me because there is nothing more inspiring than people standing up for what they believe in, even if it means certain death. Catching Fire is about courage, defiance, and hope. The quote at the top of my blog sums up this book pretty well actually “Whatever you do in this life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it anyway.”
Suzanne Collins writing is as excellent as ever, especially her use of suspense. I feel this is specifically why her books are so riveting, because you never know who’s going to die, even the main characters aren’t safe from being killed off so you race through the pages desperate to see who will survive the night. And as psharma3 pointed out to me, Collins makes you accidentally fall in love with the characters. You don’t realize how much you’ve come to care for them until there lives are threatened.
The character development is good. We are given more insight into the mystery around Haymitch and his own experience in the Hunger Games arena which was really interesting, and added more depth to his character. We also get to learn a lot more about the previous tributes from the Hunger Games and how they cleverly managed to escape the arena alive. This was also really interesting, and introduced more loveable and complex characters to the story. However, I was really disappointed with one element of the characterization, and that was Katniss. She was so strong, capable and level-headed in the first book, someone who you could aspire to be, but I feel like she lost some of this in Catching Fire which is a real shame. The way she’s treated by some of the characters around her was really frustrating, and she spent a lot of the book breaking down and seeking comfort from others. However, I do understand that at least part of this was needed in order for the plot to work, as a large part of this book is about Katniss losing her way, and her emotional journey and I’m hoping she’ll find herself again in the final book Mockingjay, and come back stronger than she was before.
One final point that is slightly on the negative side, is that with a combination of common sense, being observant, and using my bookish sixth sense I managed to work out half way through the book how the plot, at least partly, was going to end. A hint was given earlier in the book, and it didn’t take much thought for me to work it out. I don’t know if this will be the case for other readers or whether I was just feeling intelligent that day haha, but it still didn’t ruin the book for me, as I still didn’t know which characters would be able to survive the events.
I would recommend this book to the same group of people I suggested the first book to, which is pretty much everyone age ten and upwards, because it’s such an amazing book! 🙂 You may also want to take a look at the song I’ve attached below by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars which has recently been released for the upcoming film. It’s really beautiful and I think sums up this book series really well, haunting, hopeful and with a slight feel of melancholy. Enjoy! 🙂
Writing Style: 4/5
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? Yes!
(To read my review of the next book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay, click here)