Title: Catching Fire (Hunger Games, book 2)
Author(s): Suzanne Collins
Genre: Fiction – Dystopia
Finished: February 5, 2013
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I decided to read this book in order to prepare myself for the movie; I would rather spoil a movie by reading the book than spoil a book by seeing the movie first. I didn’t go into reading this book with any preconceived notions about how the plot may manifest itself, so I relied on the first few pages to gain a sense of how the book may progress. Essentially, now a victor of the Hunger Games, Katniss is the target for the ire of the Capitol, specifically President Snow. Before even Katniss realizes what she means to the rest of the various districts, the President is painfully aware that she stands as an icon of rebellion and indeed revolution, which he certainly cannot stand.
So naturally, of course, he seeks to eliminate her as a threat.
The book is really two distinct stories. The first part of the story of of Katniss trying to survive back in District 12 after the games, trying to become normal again, and ultimately trying to quell any possible threat of district rebellion in order to placate President Snow and protect her family/friends. The part effectively ends when she discovers that there is no way to stop the anger of the districts, who are using her act of defiance as a sort of rallying cry to justify their own defiance. As a result, there is no pleasing President Snow, and she fears no hope of saving the people she cares about. Which brings us to part 2, the Quarter Quell, an anniversary event. At every 25 year period, the games are given a special feature, a new twist. This quarter’s twist is, and predictably so, that those in the arena must be past winners of the Games. This assures, as the only female from District 12, that Katniss will be in the arena.
I admit, I saw this coming. Even as I was reading part 1, I kept telling myself, “This president is going to find a way to make it so Katniss has to reenter the games.” I wasn’t certain how he would do so, but I was confident that he would find a way, as this would be an easy and entertaining way to get rid of her while at the same time showing the burgeoning revolutionaries throughout the various districts the cost of defiance.
Katniss goes into the arena this time determined to give her life to protect Peeta; there is no way to save them both, and the President wants her death badly enough to make sure she regrets not dying. If anything, she can save Peeta, who she sees as an innocent in her machinations. Little does she know that behind the scenes, Haymitch has been working out his own dealings, convincing the other Tributes to, no matter the cost, keep Peeta alive, too. Once again, the pair are at the center of a conspiracy that they do not have much of a say in, or much knowledge of for that matter.
I found the nature of the games arena this time to be wonderfully creative. I really had to applaud Collins for the uniqueness of the setting. It was more than just a landscape of traps and scattered threats for tributes to chase each other around. I loved the idea of the arena as a clock, and each new hour bringing a new round of chaos to one of the 12 triangular branches.
Naturally, not knowing myself of the backroom dealings of Haymitch, I kept waiting for the moment when the alliances formed in the arena would come crashing down on Katniss and Peeta. It is always a wonderful turn of events to find that I have been wrong in my predictions; it forces me not to over think the plot too much and thereby ruin it for myself. I was also very pleased that the few characters I felt taken with had survived, though with varied levels of… safety and success.
I am also a massive sucker for a good cliffhanger, though mostly when I have in my possession the next book, which I do. I have already started the third and final book because I have to know what happens with the rebellion, which at the end of the games, is going full scale. And I also have to know what happens between Katniss and Peeta since, ultimately, I am rooting for them.
I love a clever dystopia.