Published September 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press.
Remember what I said in my review of Glow? That, “I liked the first book but I’m not a fan [of The Hunger Games] either.” I may have to take that back. True, I am not over the moon about the first book in the trilogy but this, Catching Fire, is AMAZING.
We meet with our heroine Katniss Everdeen after the 74th Hunger Games. She’s back in District 12 living in luxury in a new house in a well-to-do area together with the other winners, Haymitch and Peeta. As the winners, Peeta and Katniss are required to tour Panem, being figureheads of hope for the people. But after their little “stunt” in the arena, the people from the districts look to Katniss as the symbol for rebellion.
The 75th Hunger Games coincide with the Quarter Quell. Their mentor Haymitch won this Game 25 years ago. Usually, the Reaping only doubles it’s players but President Snow changes the rules for this year – the victors of the previous Hunger Games will enter the arena again. Katniss must prevent the countrywide rebellion and at the same time survive another round in the arena.
I have not read a plot so solid and so well-constructed in a very long time. Suzanne Collins may not be the best writer but the way she built this book is a thing of beauty. I cannot single out anything specific because it’ll give away something major but overall, I was just so wow’d. It was so creative and I honestly cannot wait to see it translated on the big screen. (Speaking of the first THG movie, I preferred that over the book. I had doubts with the casting at the beginning but everything worked out just fine.)
I still enjoy seeing the events through Katniss’ eyes. Collins is not the best at conveying emotion but she definitely knows how to shock and unsettle the reader. If you think about it, the Hunger Games themselves are very violent. I mean, how can you write about killing children in the most horrendous ways? The author says it outright, no dilly-dallying. And considering this series is aimed towards the younger adults, she doesn’t go into the gory details of each kill or torture. But it is still upsetting.
The characters are also pretty cool. My favorite so far in the series is Peeta. Poor guy. He’s so unassuming, kind, and just an all around nice guy. I admit that the love story between Katniss and Peeta was not my favorite in the first book but in this, I just felt so sorry for the guy. Clearly, he loves Katniss and Katniss either doesn’t love him back or is confused about her feelings. The people are clearly pulling for Katniss to win the Games and Peeta is not getting that much love… even from his family. It’s just… so sad for something like that to happen to such a good guy. I found myself smiling every time he says a line. So yeah, I am Team Peeta.
I like the transition from the first book. This one definitely feels more grown up, it’s grittier and darker. The new characters add so much to the story. In the first book, Katniss was mostly alone and there wasn’t really much going on. But with Finnick, Johanna, and the other victors in the picture, there’s more action and adventure. Even though there are a lot of characters, each had their own interesting personalities and I truly enjoyed everyone of them so much that their death scenes were hard to swallow.
Overall, I think Catching Fire will go down as one of my favorites. It is very well-crafted and it does make me want to read the third one right away. You know what… maybe I will do just that.
Recommendation: READ IT. Go ahead. Buy into the hype! It is well-deserved. But you have to be familiar with the events of the first book (or movie, whatever) for your to fully enjoy it.
Get your copy here.