Katniss and Peta have done the impossible. They have both survived The Hunger Games. But Katniss’s decisions in the arena have had long term effects that can be felt in every corner of Panem. An uprising has been sparked, and the Capitol is looking to Katniss to blame. Will she be able to play by the Capitol’s rules to ensure her survival, or will she join in the revolution?
The Hunger Games was one of my favorite reads of 2009, and I was really excited about revisiting the characters in its sequel, Catching Fire. I’m happy to say that it lived up to my very high expectations. Unlike The Hunger Games, the book does not play out like an endless adrenaline rush, but instead a tug of war between the repressed people of Panem and President Snow. Although The Hunger Games did a great job of displaying the Capitol’s cruelty, it feels a lot more personal in Catching Fire, as its attention is directed right on Katniss. Viewed by President Snow and much of Panem as the figurehead for a revolution, Katniss must convince the world that her decision with the berries was not an act of defiance but the irrational whim of a silly girl in love. This means persuading Panem once again that she is madly in love with Peeta, despite the fact that she hasn’t had the chance to deal with her own confused emotions regarding both Peeta and her closest friend Gale. Katniss is not given the chance to decide between the two men, the capitol has already made the decision for her. This aspect gave the love triangle storyline a little more weight, escalating it above the overused concept of a girl who simply can’t decide between the two amazing men that are absolutely in love with her.
Another theme that was expanded upon from The Hunger Games is the sharp division between the have and the have-nots, or the people of the twelve Districts and the citizens of the Capitol. This is illustrated best in a scene where Katniss and Peeta are brought into an elaborate banquet. When Katniss can’t handle another bite, she’s handed a drink that will force her to throw up so she can eat more. Katniss and Peeta are disgusted, thinking of their family and friends that starve back at home. At the same time, the people of the Capitol, as seen most acutely in Katniss’s prep team, are not necessarily bad people, just ignorant. So separated from the harsh reality of the Districts, and completely unused to the idea of need, they cannot grasp the concept of starvation and poverty, or see the true horrors of the games.
Catching Fire is a fantastic sequel to The Hunger Games. Although I didn’t quite match my fiancé’s record of reading it in one four hour sitting, I pretty much flew through it in just two afternoons. Once again Suzanne Collins holds nothing back, despite the fact that these books are intended for a young adult audience. The story told here is complex, political, and brutal. The characters are likable, my favorites being the lead Katniss and her mentor Haymitch. I loved getting to learn more about the other districts and the characters that we meet from them. The book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I know that I will be eagerly waiting the conclusion of the trilogy Mockingjay, which will be coming out in late August.
Rating: five stars
Length: 391 pages
Source: borrowed from my fiancé
Challenge: This book is part of the Sci-Fi Reading Challenge and the 2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge
Similar Books: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (my review) is another tale of politics and revolution. Garth Nix’s Shade’s Children (my review) is another YA dystopia that explores violence involving adolescents, although I didn’t like it as much
Other books I've read by this author: The Hunger Games (my review)
xposted totemporaryworlds , bookish and goodreads