Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

This book is the second in a trilogy and therefore this review will inevitably contain spoilers for the first book, The Hunger Games. In the next paragraph below the picture! So if you haven't read it or watched the film and want to without spoiling the end, stop reading this blog post now. Seriously!

Photo by Dave Stokes

So Katniss and Peeta have won the 74th Hunger Games and returned home to District Twelve, where they now live in comparative luxury in the mansions reserved for victors. Whilst her sister and mother enjoy their new surroundings, Katniss misses the comparative freedom of her old life - hunting with Gale in particular. The Victory Tour is approaching and Katniss knows she will have to start pretending to be madly in love with Peeta again, otherwise all their lives will be at risk. The stakes become even higher when she hears about  possible rebellions in other districts, and there is also the approaching Quarter Quell to worry about - a special version of the Hunger Games that takes place every twenty-five years.

Some readers have said that they didn't enjoy Catching Fire as much as The Hunger Games. Not me! I loved it. I really liked how the plot developed and enjoyed trying to work out what was going on. However, I can see where they're coming from in that there are a lot of similar scenes to the first book, and then not much is revealed until the end. You finally find out what's going on at the end of the book but then of course it's the end of the book! Argh. I wouldn't say Catching Fire is filler as it does advance the plot and characterisation, but if I'd read these books when they were originally published, and didn't have access to Mockingjay straight away, I would have been really frustrated.

I think the characterisation was better in Catching Fire than in The Hunger Games, simply because Katniss spends more time with more other people. In the first book, she spent most of her time in the arena, alone, which was fantastic for setting her up as a self-reliant, clever individual, but we didn't really get to know the other tributes, or her family and friends. I really liked seeing how Katniss' relationships with the other characters developed in Catching Fire, slow as that development might be, and finished absolutely thrilled about the prospect of the final book, Mockingjay.

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