Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

4 stars – I liked it; it was good

This is the sequel to The Hunger Games, and I was initially worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much, as I expected it to be a lot about the fallout of the first book, rather than starting anything new. I did, however, remain optimistic and was thrilled by what I got.

Read: Dec. 12 – Dec. 17, 2022.

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Took a While to Really Get Going

After winning the Hunger Games alongside Peeta, Katniss Everdeen returns home to District 12, but she can’t just be done with the Capitol. Now, she and Peeta must go on a tour of the districts in a sort of Victory Tour. The only problem is that some of the inhabitants of the other districts weren’t so convinced by her “love” for Peeta and have seen her prior actions as rebellion. President Snow himself comes to warn Katniss of the dangers of a revolt from the districts, and if she doesn’t put an end to it, her family will pay the price.

I was at first apprehensive about this book because I was worried it wouldn’t be about the Games again, but to only have the Hunger Games come around for another year, there’s more happening than ever. It’s the Quarter Quell, year 75 of the Games, so there’s something new and different happening. Not only that, but the ruckus that Katniss and Peeta caused at the end of the last Games has reverberated throughout the country.

This book, just like the last one, is written in first person present tense (from Katniss’s perspective). This not only means we hear about the story from her, but we only know what she knows. This is called an unreliable narrator and can be used brilliantly to set up misdirects and keep the reader in the dark about certain things since we’re figuring things out as Katniss is figuring them out.

That didn’t stop me from having my theories, though. Now knowing that Suzanne Collins likes to put a lot of misdirects into her writing (which I enjoy), I’ve tried even harder to figure things out ahead of time, just to see whether I’m right or wrong.

The cast of characters has expanded from the last book, and we get a bit more romance drama than the last one, but it’s the kind of thing that makes me laugh out loud. Peeta is definitely the kind of guy that likes to drop bombshells on everyone, and the readers get to witness the fallout. We knew this from the first book, too, where he reveals in the starting interview that he is in love with Katniss. It gets even better in this one; I literally turned to my brother and said “This whole thing turned into a raging dumpster fire…and I’m loving every moment of it.”

Once again, I love Suzanne Collins’s writing style. It is so simple and easy to read, but simultaneously cinematic. I can clearly envision everything that’s happening, though in this book there were a few locations I couldn’t quite map out in my head; I’ll have to watch the movie to understand what it looked like.

No scene is wasted. It is sharp, efficient writing, and everything has a purpose for being there. The lake, the force field, the clues that are dropped along the way. At first, you think “Oh, it’s just worldbuilding,” but it’s so much more than that.

One thing I thought could’ve been better, though, was how Peeta dealt with his prosthetic. I suppose that since the books take place in the future he doesn’t have as much of the pain and struggle people tend to have. I do not have any need for a prosthetic, but I pride myself in trying to learn more about others and I’ve watched several Youtube channels from people reacting to their own representation in media. However, I won’t say more on the topic because I feel that I am not qualified to speak on the matter. Here are some articles I found about the matter:

Why Peeta Should Have Lost His Leg (about him not losing his leg in the movie and why he should have).

Disability in Media (about how disability is viewed and why it should have more representation).

I read this book in barely a week, not only using my designated reading hour but spending extra time reading as well. It’s not the type of book where I get bored reading, though a few times I caught my eyes wandering over the page and had to remind myself to stay on the current line. There was never a dull moment, though, so I’m calling this book an absolute WIN and it’s an excellent sequel to the first book. I’m just grateful that I’m reading this late and won’t have to wait however many months before the next book comes out – I can just pick it up and read it – because this one ends on one doozy of a cliffhanger!

However, while the end of the book continued the Games, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as the first book because it was harder to picture, and the action itself took longer than I would’ve liked to get started. The pacing was okay because of how fast I read it, but upon reflection, it wasn’t as good as the first book, which is why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. Let’s hope that the third book will have more action in it now that things are getting real.

If you loved the first book, you’ll enjoy this one. I highly recommend reading it. It is thrilling and provokes deep thought about the real world and how messed up it can sometimes be. (That’s what dystopia does.)

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