Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I posted my review of Mockingjay and then realized that I forgot to post my review of Catching Fire. Whoops. You can read about my disappointment with Mockingjay here.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
I don't like dystopias. It is my least favorite genre of literature. Despite this, I love the Hunger Games series. I put off reading Catching Fire for a long time, choosing instead to read books in genres I preferred. But I wanted to read Mockingjay, so I had to read Catching Fire. At first, the book was a bit of a chore, not because it was uninteresting, but because the oppressiveness of the government depressed me.
A year after Katniss and Peeta's unexpected joint win of the Hunger Games, life has returned somewhat to normal for Katniss. She's more wealthy now, but still goes out to hunt with Gale every Sunday. Her relationships with Gale and Peeta are suffering though. They are both in love with her. She is not in love with either of them; she doesn't really know what she feels. Katniss and Peeta take a brief detour from their home lives by going on the Victory Tour, a required publicity stunt through each district. There, they realize that citizen discontent is simmering and rapidly rising to a boil. Life after the victory tour quickly becomes more difficult as the government will do anything and everything to keep its citizens in check.
Catching Fire is anything but hard to read. Even though I hadn't read Hunger Games in a few years, I was immediately familiar with Katniss's world. Collins does a great job of getting you up to speed without feeling like the first few chapters are just a recap. The book is full of action, one painful cliff hanger after another. The book never feels like it's dragging. When there isn't a heartpounding moment of action, you're reading about the details of Katniss's fashion and make-up or experiencing every day life in her village. The Hunger Games fantasy world is richly described. Even without all the action, Katniss's world would make a fascinating book.
I love all the characters in this series. Katniss is a three-dimensional character. We see so many of her flaws. She is uncomfortable, awkward, and doesn't allow people in. She often seems to survive on dumb luck alone. But she is also fiercely loyal to her family and friends, brave, smart, and ultimately, good. In Hunger Games, I was thoroughly Team Gale. Now, I am Team Peeta. He is just so wonderful, kind, smart, well-spoken. He is everything that awkward Katniss is not; they play off one another perfectly. But you really can't go wrong with Gale either. Katniss has two fabulous guys to choose from, which makes her life even more difficult. The secondary characters are drawn well. Haymitch is a hardened drunk who is a brilliant and protective mentor when he's sober. Katniss's prep crew are hilarious, yet also far smarter and more knowledgeable than they appear on the surface. I especially like Cinna.
Catching Fire is a fabulous book that causes me to forget that I hate dystopias. I cannot wait for Mockingjay.
Rating: 4.5 / 5