Greyweather's Reviews > Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
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Aug 21, 2013

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Read from February 04 to 06, 2010

Catching Fire starts with an extension of the crisis from the end of The Hunger Games. Six months after the end of the first book, during a surprise visit, President Snow of Panem makes it clear to Katniss in no uncertain terms that he is aware of her deception. She is told plainly that unless she can make her romance with Peeta not just credible but utterly convincing to the public, all her friends and family will bear the consequences. While more may be at stake in this volume, this one didn’t really grab me compared to the kill-or-be-killed tension of The Hunger Games.

To mark the half-anniversary of their victory in the arena, Katniss and Peeta are taken on a celebratory Victory Tour of all the districts of Panem. Things go wrong from the outset, however, when Katniss’ remarks thanking the people of District 11 for the sacrifices their children made in the arena on her behalf spark a demonstration of dissent against the Capitol from the crowd gathered to watch the speech, exactly the kind of thing President Snow had charged her with preventing. Thanks to this and some other events during the tour, we get a few reminders about the dark authoritarian state that rules her life.

With the spark of unrest in the Districts, the Capitol institutes a series of crackdowns. Collins transforms the oppressive, yet mostly in the background, presence of the Capitol from the first book into an omnipresent army of brutality and deprivation serving the will of a malicious vampire. President Snow isn’t stopping there, however. To mark the seventy-fifth Hunger Games, this Reaping Day will have special rules. This year, the combatants will be made up solely of winners of past Hunger Games.

I know it’s called the Hunger Games trilogy, but having Katniss and Peeta go back into the arena again in this book just looks like Collins couldn’t come up with any new ideas. I might have been able to enjoy the altered dynamic of having Haymitch in the arena with Katniss, but that wasn’t an avenue Collins was interested in exploring.

Collins also did not seem to be interested in developing her characters. Katniss in particular seems even less mature than she was a year ago in the first book. We even get a repeat in the arena of the whole “don’t trust him, that was nice of him, maybe I should trust him, no it must be a trick, repeat” mental cycle from the first book. Katniss also allows herself to be ruled almost entirely by emotion throughout the whole of the book, which makes her “seeing the forest for the trees” moment of clarity at the climax improbable and unconvincing.

Overall, I found Catching Fire to be a disappointment. It reused too many ideas from the first book for me to muster any real excitement for it. If your enjoyment of the first book came from the scenes of intense action, then Catching Fire will serve you just as well. If you want something of greater substance, this volume simply comes up short.

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Reading Progress

02/04/2010 page 137
35.04% "The Quell"
02/06/2010 page 265
67.77% "The Enemy"

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