Kiki's Reviews > Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
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's review
Feb 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: awesome-heroine, awesome-ya, waterworks, better-than-the-first-one, books-that-changed-my-life, dystopian, i-hate-that-i-love-you, lolwut, sentimental-value, ya, will-read-the-next-one
Recommended to Kiki by: A morphling
Recommended for: Morphlings
Read from February 14 to 17, 2012 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Is it just me, or is anyone else really starting to like Haymitch?

Bet you didn't see this coming. Moi, Kira, reading Catching Fire and giving it four stars!

The Hunger Games earned an uneasy 2.5 stars from me. The most annoying part? I wasn't 100% sure why. Katniss, probably. The almost absurd seriousness of her voice and her behavior toward Peeta tipped me (though I did have to give her kudos for being absolutely kick-ass). The cavalier treatment of Haymitch's alcoholism, the total lack of sensical world-building and the sentence fragments grated on me. I enjoyed it, yes; but love it, I did not.

I was all set to throw in the towel with this series. It's been a year since I read The Hunger Games, and I wasn't on any kind of tenterhook to find out what happened next. I'll admit, when I picked up Catching Fire it was with a sort of do-I-have-to groan, because it was practically thrust into my hand by a friend who is totally batshit crazy about these books and demanded I keep reading or die. So I cracked it open on pain of death and started reading.

The first seventy or so pages are ridiculously boring. Katniss and Peeta literally do nothing but travel around and eat. It was during this time, when there was no violence or gratuitous nudity or mildly sexual romantic tension to distract me, that those absolutely heinous sentence fragments really caught up with me.

Look, this book is obviously intended to be written as a stream of Katniss's consciousness, so I absolutely understand an abundance of fragments. But these fragments are nonsensical. I literally had to read some sentences five times just to understand what Katniss was trying to say, and let me tell you one thing: that's a fantastic way to totally alienate your reader from the narrative. The fragments would cut a perfectly comprehensible sentence into two incomprehensible halves.

Welcome to Logicville. Population: none.

So why'd I give this book four stars? Because I read it in something like two and a half days, and although the plotline felt repetitive, half-hearted and sort of a caper, it was just great. So much better than the first book. Let me say something: Suzanne Collins must be a brilliant dressmaker, because she has an uncanny talent for embellishing obnoxious things and making them seem 100% less ridiculous than they actually are.

This is the plot of this book. Katniss and Peeta hear rumblings of uprising among the Districts, meanwhile President Snow, for some strange reason, is still not satisfied with Katniss's show of fake love for Peeta (even though EVERYONE else - literally EVERYONE - is. Like, how much more convinced does he think the people need to be?). So this creates a lot of unnecessary conflict, while Katniss bounces between Gale and Peeta, even though she knows herself that she's not sexually attracted to Gale and at this point the reader is already fully aware that in the end, she's going to pick Peeta. How could she not? He practically has "I am a non-threatening love interest" tattooed across his forehead. This series is a lot of things, but unpredictable it is not.

So anyway, a Quarter Quell is announced, in which a male and female tribute from each District will be selected from the existing pool of victors, ergo, the folks who won will be in the arena again (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes this book fucking great. The feeling of sheer betrayal from the Capitol's decision to haunt the victors with another Hunger Games is what carries this whole book). Yadda yadda, lots of violence, and then a bad guy turns out to be good and Katniss and Co. are all rescued from the arena, save for Peeta, who's been horribly abducted by the Capitol (tears for that).

Let's start with the love triangle, which this book pretty frequently relies on to supply tension. I've been pretty hard on the love triangle, but I really shouldn't have been: it doesn't convince me at all and to be honest I never felt any chemistry between Katniss and Gale or Katniss and Peeta, but at least it didn't feel tacked on. It felt premeditated and it does forward the plot, so kudos for that. Plus, the Katniss in this book is much more human, a Katniss I could better relate to. She's tough but emotional, self-assured yet apologetic, compassionate but practical. Her voice held a little note of sarcasm which I just loved, because I always felt that the maudlin narrative of the first book really did border on angsty and I can't deal with that shit. You feel me?

I better felt who Katniss was in this book, and as such, I felt like I could grow to care about Peeta and Gale as characters, though not as love interests - like I said before, I could've cared less who Katniss ended up with because none of the romantic relationships ever really interested me. Note that it is true what they say, that Gale and Peeta are practically the same character, except Gale tends to be irritatingly convenient in his reactions and tends to jump to the most nonsensical conclusions, so I do tend to prefer Peeta. I don't know what it is; Peeta's just lovely. And he's a little clumsy and awkward, which I find incredibly endearing.

Catching Fire sees Katniss and Peeta forced to participate in a second round of the Hunger Games. It's a Quarter Quell, which occurs every twenty-five years, and means the Gamemakers toss in a curveball to freak everyone the fuck out.

These Games were nowhere near as threatening as those in The Hunger Games. That was mainly what warmed me to the first book: the terror of entering the arena blind, unsure of what was going to happen next. In this book, the reaping happens in one paragraph, there are two pages of meals and dresses, and then they're straight into a particularly creative arena which was thrilling, but not frightening. My problem with these Games was that everything felt like it was moving very slowly. After the gong sounds, there wasn't the jump of the heart that occurred with Katniss's first Games. There was just Katniss falling, Katniss running, Katniss swimming, Katniss doing this and that. After she reaches the Cornucopia, there's time for some witty dialogue between her and the unspeakably fabulous Finnick Odair, and then they mosey on over to Peeta, pick their weapons with strategy, then wander into the jungle. Urgency? Oh, please.

So why was this book such a success, in comparison to the previous and more tense installment? Well, because the character development in this book is far superior to that of first one, in that each character feels more complex, each exchange of dialogue feels more natural, and somehow, for some reason, Peeta and Gale began to actually interest me as separate people in their own right. They felt necessary, like humans rather than big cardboard cut-outs of Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson*. In the first book, all of the characters go through the entire book without changing at all by the end. Katniss was already a hunter, Peeta was already a baker and painter, and Gale was already brooding and angsty. By the end of the games, nothing inside the characters had really changed. Katniss was still a hunter, Peeta was still a wet rag, and Gale...blah. Who cared about Gale at the end of the first book? Whatever. There wasn't a single character arc to be found. Just people doing stuff and that stuff causing other stuff.

So while The Hunger Games excelled in candy gore and adrenaline-charged action, this book has more substance. I felt like it mattered.

*Don't flame me, you little bitches. I read the book like a year before the movie came out, okay?

In essence, I felt like a lot of this book was kind of a caper. Well, maybe not quite a caper, but it was more like an adventure novel than a terrifying thriller. I loved the twists, especially Plutarch Heavensbee, which I did not see coming, not for a second. There was a lot of clothing description, which was great fun (hurrah for Katniss's mockingjay outfit! That was dope) and while a lot of the arena time felt sort of Tomb Raider-esque, it was wildly entertaining. That's the essence of Collins' writing, at least for me. Technically, it's kind of lame, but she knows how to put across a story with just enough heart to convince the reader to give a shit.

Despite the somewhat sweet-shoppish atmosphere of the Games, there were plenty of darker areas to this book. The Capitol's killing gentle Cinna, Katniss's hopeless entrapment in the Quarter Quell, Mags's death in the arena, the morphlings, Finnick's love for Annie and, most pungently for me, the glimpse of Haymitch's time in the arena. It was sickening, really; to throw back to teenage Haymitch, his connection with Maysilee, and his victory in the games after a disgustingly bloody battle with his final opponent. Guys, his intestines were literally hanging out and the girl was killed with an axe to the head. How anyone can still not like Haymitch after this is beyond me. This is the reasoning behind his alcoholism, his anti-social personality, and eventually (view spoiler). Oddly, Katniss was one of the very people who expressed no sympathy whatsoever for Haymitch, despite witnessing his disturbingly awful stint in the arena when there were twice as many tributes as usual (Haymitch competed in the 2nd Quarter Quell). She's horribly judgmental, and apathetic toward him, and frankly, it left me irritated.

I may be the only person on the planet who actually likes Haymitch, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Needless to say, I absolutely fell in love with Finnick. Do I even need to say why? Nah. No need. It's Finnick. That's why I fell in love with him. Because he's Finnick.

The cliffhanger at the end of this book bothers me. I suppose it's that ingrained disgust for cliffhangers their sneaky little money-grubbing ploys, and the creepy marketing strategies behind them. You're literally trapping people into buying the next book. How about relying on the actual quality of the story to invite in readers for the next book in the series, rather than inadvertently begging them to line up at midnight for the release? It's just really, really jammy.

For shame, Scholastic.

P.S. The blurb for this book is a lie. Gale does not have an icy exterior, and Peeta does not, at any point, ever, turn his back on Katniss. Nobody ever turns their back on Katniss. They all love her too much.

Seriously. Everyone loves Katniss.



This is disgustingly good. Prepare to have your mind blown.
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Reading Progress

08/23/2011 page 50
13.0% "I'm reading the last 150 pages of Unearthly as I start this, and maybe that's why this book seems so boring. Determined to keep truckin' though." 6 comments

Comments (showing 1-31 of 31) (31 new)

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Kiki No fear. I have the memory of a goldfish.

And oh! Finnick. <3

Kiki I'll see my friend next week (I seriously can't afford to buy books right now) and I'll borrow it from her. So probably...psht. Next Thursday? ASAP, really.

Lexie Finnick is without a doubt the most fantastic character of the series. Also, you're not the only one to like Haymitch. I grew quite fond of him by the end. He could be pretty awful at times, but you can't really expect someone to experience what he did and still be all sunshine and rainbows.

kelllsify #TEAMFINNICK

Kaila I must say I'm surprised, I thought everyone disliked Catching Fire more than The Hunger Games, but great review! Glad you liked it.

Noémy I personnally really like this trilogy the main reason being that I love Peeta SO MUCH !!

Gabry I never thought you'd finish this. Such a surprise, really. But Finnick and Haymitch are such great characters.

Caitlin I think we had the same reaction to The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (sort of). I like THG, but more for the action, the games, the thrill of it. It wasn't until Catching Fire I really liked Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch. Katniss in this book wasn't entirely on a one track mind of "Oh fuck, gonna die! Wait jk I gotta survive bitches. Time to kill some squirrels."

Substance. That's the perfect word. This book was less about the thrill and more full. It was interesting to learn about Haymitch and see Katniss struggle with the idea of a rebellion (at one point wasn't she all, "I HATE YOU CAPITOL. LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO GALE" and everyone is like, "Lolkatnissstfu"?) and the new characters actually add something to the story.

Anyways, I'm glad you kept reading the series. I'm interested in what you think of Mockingjay. People either hate it, or love it.

Kiki Nah. In fact, I don't fancy marrying anybody.

message 10: by Kiki (last edited Feb 20, 2012 08:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Cillian wrote: "Kira wrote: "Nah. In fact, I don't fancy marrying anybody."

That's not what you told me last night...
Was I lied to, again?"

Cil, you're my saucy lover. Position of honorary wife has already been filled by my surly cat.

message 11: by Kiki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki (In all seriousness, Nafiul, I just don't see myself being married. I don't have anything against the institution; I just don't feel it's for me. I don't see myself ever doing it.)

message 12: by Kiki (last edited Feb 21, 2012 09:31AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Nafiul wrote: "Don't you ever want to find a nice guy and settle down? I hope you don't mind the question.... :)"

I'd love to find a nice guy, have some children, make a family. But I don't feel like marriage necessarily needs to be a part of that.

Lisa (Fic Talk) Oh Peeta. Peeta, Peeta, Peeta.

And Finnick. Le Sigh.

Lisa (Fic Talk) And HAYMITCH FTW!

message 15: by Kiki (last edited Feb 22, 2012 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Nafiul wrote: "Kira wrote: "Nafiul wrote: "Don't you ever want to find a nice guy and settle down? I hope you don't mind the question.... :)"

I'd love to find a nice guy, have some children, make a family. But I..."

In my eyes, marriage is a piece of paper. One can have children and a partner without it.

message 16: by Kiki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Lisa wrote: "Oh Peeta. Peeta, Peeta, Peeta.

And Finnick. Le Sigh."

I love Finnick so much I could just cry. Isn't he FABULOUS?

Lisa (Fic Talk) Kira wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Oh Peeta. Peeta, Peeta, Peeta.

And Finnick. Le Sigh."

I love Finnick so much I could just cry. Isn't he FABULOUS?"

Finnick is muy fabuloso!
He so shined in Catching Fire. Swoon.

Yesenia You came into the light, Kira. Welcome! We've been waiting for you

Krista Ashe Love, love Annie and Finnick's story. Meanwhile, have you guys seen these very well made fan vids of their romance?

message 20: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna So glad you liked it i injoyed Hunger Games more but so loved haymitches development and the audition of Finick older charecters are almost always more intresting than younger ones.

Anne-Marie Falano I hated Haymitch in this one!!!! I liked him so much more towards the end of MockingJay. He's an "Ends Justifies the means" character.

Gaylette OMGOMGOMG!! i looooooooooveeeeeeee peeeta too! hes just so sweet to katniss :) i havent written a reveiw for this book yet, i don't really think i need to because you've already said what i was saying! thanks

Irene You're definitely not alone: I love Haymitch and adore Finnick!!!!!! =D

Haymitch has that broken-down, suffering puppy quality that makes me instantly fall for fictional characters (Snape from Harry Potter, Beauty's Beast, Lloyd Webber's Phantom, The Hound from Game of Thrones...). He's interesting, he has a past. In real life I would probably find such characters insufferable, but in fiction I am terribly drawn to them.

I didn't hate Mockingjay as much as you, but I also think Catching Fire is the best of the trilogy, which is passing strange for a second book. Its definite advantage is the character development and the interactions and relationships the Quarter Quell allows the different characters to develop.

I'm sort of looking forward to the movie, because I'm sure we'll see much of Haymitch, behind the scenes, as they showed him in the Hunger Games. =)

Zero vi Britannia I love Haymitch too. And Finnick. Sweet, sweet Finnick. Oh Finnick...I'll stop now.

message 25: by Kiki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Kyle wrote: "They just released the second trailer for the film and the arena looks breathtaking from what you can see of it."

I know omg! I watched the trailer yesterday, right after it came out, when I was on break at work. It's amazeballs.

Jennifer You are not alone in your love of Haymitch, he has always been a favourite of mine :)I've never found the "romance" aspects of the story very appealing, but I do love the series, very much in fact. I have a huge soft spot for Peeta (especially in Mockingjay)and of course <3 Finnick.

message 27: by Kiki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kiki Kyle wrote: "Kira wrote: "Kyle wrote: "They just released the second trailer for the film and the arena looks breathtaking from what you can see of it."

I feel you. That was pretty heartbreaking.

All in all, I feel like the CF movie will be a lot better than the THG movie. I feel like the THG movie was just so poorly directed and that the transition from book to screen just wasn't smooth at all. For example, they wrote in a line about the tesserae that nobody would understand unless they had read the book, and that's not what making a movie from the book is about: it's about adapting it so it stands alone as a piece of media. I just really felt like Gary Ross did a sub-par job and I hope CF is better. (The CGI fire looks less cheap, so that's a start.)

message 28: by Wolf (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wolf team finnick!!

Simon Taylor I love Haymitch!

jaide shut up !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! spoiler

ginia hey kiki its ginia and i toyally agree with lu on how everyone loves katniss.really she gets o much attention. but you will probably laugh at me for saying that b/c she is the main character.i also agree with you that you dont have to explain why you love finnick. you just love him. i love him too. last of all you are not the only one who really likes haymitch. i think he i really great and sometimes i think of him as katnisss grandpa.

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