Lisa Louie's Reviews > Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
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Jul 06, 12

Read in April, 2012

Catching Fire, the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, takes up the story after Katniss and Peeta have returned to District 12 as unprecedented and uneasy dual victors. Both Peeta and Gale keep a sore distance from her, uncertain about her true feelings. President Snow informs Katniss that her behavior in the games has inspired rebellious uprisings in the districts and that during the victor's lap around the country, she must use her celebrity to quell them. When she is unsuccessful, Snow announces another Hunger Games, and Katniss finds herself returning to the arena once again.

As the second installation of the story, Catching Fire is more plot-driven than thematic although the full-blown thematic payoff of the third book is cultured and developed here. In the first book, we follow Katniss as she plays the double-reality survival game in which she must ape for the camera, no matter what the ethical cost in order to stay alive. In the second book, Katniss contends with the fallout from the way she played the game, and the fallout has both personal and political dimensions that become intertwined by book's end. But it's the romantic triangle among Katniss and her two very different suitors, Peeta and Gale, that drives this second book. Gale emerges from the woods as a brooding resistance fighter in the making, while Peeta remains his articulate, principled and sensitive self, his only wish to protect Katniss. For her part, Katniss vacillates between the two just as she does between the view of herself as emerging political symbol and the view of herself as an individual desperate to find an interior sense of home again. By the end of this installment, I knew for certain that I was Team Peeta, as the kids say, but all the same, I was glad for Gale's presence as well. His outward focus and his ambition to use power to effect change and to right the imbalance is a very necessary contrast in this distopic landscape. It's interesting to watch pragmatic Katniss pulled and flipped like a magnet between the two, her own ambivalence a statement in itself. By the close of the book, her ambivalence is what lingers, begging for resolution.
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