Title: Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Release Date: September 1, 2009
With the release of the final book in the trilogy right around the corner in August, I figured now would be a good time to read Catching Fire, the second in the Hunger Games trilogy. You can check out my "mini-review" of The Hunger Games here.
As you can tell from that review, or in case you didn't read it, I had mediocre feelings about the first book after reading it. It was okay once I got into it, but I didn't exude the passion for the book that so many did. But I have to say maybe because of that Catching Fire exceeded my expectations and was a fun and thrilling read. I have tried my best to keep this review spoiler-free... you can at least rest assured that I include less information than what you'll find in a synopsis online.
Rebellion. Uprising. Defiance. All words that the government of Panem doesn't want to hear. After all, wasn't that the point of the Hunger Games in the first place? To show who's in charge and let the citizens of Panem know who has all the power?
Catching Fire starts off after the Hunger Games has ended. The victors and families are living in the Victor's Village, and they embark on the traditional victor tour to all 12 districts and to the Capital. Without necessarily meaning to, Katniss has incited the start of a rebellion. Her actions during the games sparked some thoughts in the citizens of some of the districts and now they're starting to rebel. President Snow has to stop this, of course, so he makes a visit to Katniss to impart some "advice" to her. But Katniss doesn't realize the significance her role, or that of "the mockingjay", has played in the different districts.
On top of that, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games. Each "quarter quell" has a new twist to it, and this year's twist shocks everyone and sets forth an entirely new set of dynamics. The love triangle between Katniss with Peeta and Gale continues as well, and some new characters are introduced that you might love or might hate.
For me, The Hunger Games was almost about getting your feet wet -- just testing out the water to see how cold it is. Maybe slowly easing yourself in as your body temperature adjusts to the shocking cold of the water. While it was a novel in itself, The Hunger Games, turned out to be merely an introduction to the story of Panem. Following this example, Catching Fire, is about immersing yourself in the water, swimming and throwing around a beach ball and timing how long you can tread water just for fun (Jackie, Jessica.... if you're reading this.... ) and gasping for breath when after 15 minutes no one has dropped out yet.... I felt the story in Catching Fire was more sophisticated and involved -- and will make you grasp for breath as well. ;) The pace was fast because it seemed there was so much more to fit into this story. There were random twists (or simple cliff hangers) that shocked me. And as for this love triangle... in The Hunger Games I couldn't decide if I was Team Peeta or Team Gale because I didn't really care -- I lacked a connection to most of the characters. But this time I felt more invested -- this time my decision wavered between the two because I want to be both! (Though I think I'm leaning towards Team Gale). I thought this was a great sequel for all these reasons. It had more social and political themes. Action. Twists. And yet maintained the important parts of the first book.
Now, I know people have mentioned they were glad Mockingjay comes out in August and they can read it soon, but I don't recall reading any reviews that warned readers that we should hold out on reading this one until closer to August if at all possible... because while The Hunger Games does end on its own, Catching Fire doesn't so much; instead it stops at what might be a good stop to put the book down if you need to check on dinner real quick. It's not really an ending and THIS IS WHY you will want to go out and buy Mockingay right away!