Having struck the match…
Age: Young Adult
First Published: 2009
Date Reviewed: 22nd July 2014
Katniss and Peeta, free of the games, moved into District 12’s Victor’s Village. Three people now take ‘pride of pride’ in the exclusive neighbourhood, but it was never going to last. President Snow sees Katniss as the catalyst in the rebellion just as everyone else does – excepting the girl herself. But Snow isn’t worried. As far as the Capitol’s concerned, the rebellion will soon be over because the Quarter Quell is about to begin and there’s always a twist…
Catching Fire is the awesome second book in Collins’s trilogy and whilst repetitive (somewhat expectedly) the book is on a par with the first: no holds barred; quick pace; a writing style that makes you want to skip meals so that you can read on.
Due to the similarities, let’s focus first on the differences. There are new characters, including a new master gamesmaker, and a whole set of tributes to get to know. (In this book there is more of an emphasis on getting to know the tributes, and for good reason.) Of course there is the furthering of the rebellion of which our strong, brave, but still naïve heroine finds herself the projected leader.
This naïveity first began in The Hunger Games, however this time it is more frustrating than understandable, the reverse of what it was. Not too frustrating – it won’t put you off reading – but enough that you wish Katniss would just get with the times, as it were. She’s reluctant, she doesn’t believe she’s the best person for the job, and as the novel’s told from her perspective the reader can understand this. But as she’s inspired others and wants to be part of the rebellion it’s hard not to wish she would have more confidence and desire.
Honestly, however, beyond that there’s little to dislike or consider in terms of whether it works or not. There is another Hunger Games, the Quarter Quell, and your expectations as to what it is and who will be entered will be met. Perhaps you may feel that Collins could’ve been more original, but it’s hard to deny that another games wasn’t a good idea. There is something that could technically be considered a cop-out at the end, however the Quarter Quell is on the whole a success for the book. The games are different in setting, colour scheme, costume, you name it, it’s only the goal and the manipulation that remains the same. And as if the last games weren’t bad enough, Collins attempts to make this one worse. The tributes are a new set of people altogether and at first glance you may think it a lesser evil, but the author is at pains to show you that it’s not. The hideous injustice doesn’t end with children here.
New also is the war and the place the war originates from. If the previous book was about the Capitol and emphasised how bad it was, Catching Fire hones in on all the things you aren’t supposed to know about what remains and has been kept secret.
You will still forget the evil, maybe not so much because this time you’ve come prepared, knowing Collins will manipulate you as the Capitol manipulates its residents, but it will happen. However what you will see is a stronger attempt to right the wrong, a better display of rebellion than the aborted nightlock poisoning (that is to say the display here is easier to set in motion and not quite as drastic, all things considered). You will be with the tributes, at one with almost all of them, as they work their way through the games. The careers are still there, but the difference in who they are means that even they are not quite as straightforward as last time.
Collins hasn’t let us down and it’s clear that she’s a writer to continue watching long after the games are over, long after they are hopefully over for good.
The odds are in your favour; Catching Fire is excellent.
July 23, 2014, 10:53 am
I’m glad you enjoyed it. Maybe it is my issue with YA trilogies but I remember reading this immediately after The Hunger Games and hating it. For me it was a rushed re-hash of the first novel and did nothing to develop the characters. It was a great idea, poorly executed.
July 23, 2014, 3:38 pm
I’m so glad you liked this one, Charlie! It’s my favorite of the three, although I do agree there were many similarities between this one and the first. Mockingjay was quite different, as I’m sure you are finding as you read it.
July 23, 2014, 4:05 pm
I’m really pleased you are continuing to enjoy this series. I think it is very addictive! I enjoyed Catching Fire as much as I did The Hunger Games. I am particularly looking forward to reading your thoughts on the third and final instalment in the series.
July 23, 2014, 4:45 pm
While it wasn’t my favorite in the series, I still enjoyed it too.
July 23, 2014, 6:00 pm
Now that I’ve seen the second movie, I don’t plan on reading the book, since my kids tell me it’s faithful enough. They’ve read the third book too, and told me some of the “spoilers” so I’ll be ready to see the third movie with them when it comes out.
July 25, 2014, 3:06 pm
Though I’ve seen the films I’ve yet to read the books. Waiting for all the hype that seemed to surround them die down I feel now is probably a good time for me to pick them up.
Great review, its great to have your take on Catching Fire.
July 25, 2014, 10:08 pm
I have got to remember to nab this book from my kids and put it on my TBR shelf. I’ve been wanting to read it for a couple of years now…
Great review–I like the style and tone of it.
>You will still forget the evil, maybe not so much because this time you’ve come prepared, knowing Collins will manipulate you as the Capitol manipulates its residents, but it will happen.
I do think Collins is a masterful writer.
July 27, 2014, 5:35 am
I remember how excited everyone was when this series was ‘the series’ of the moment. I’m glad you found plenty to like in the second book: hopefully the next one will be great, too.
July 28, 2014, 8:37 pm
This reminds me I still haven’t seen the movie of this one! I need to check again if it’s showed up on Netflix or HBO Go or anything.