Book Review: Catching Fire (Susan Collins)

Book: 63/100

I’ve read this book before, but I was in such a rush to know what happened I didn’t really get to fully appreciate it. I decided to try it again as part of my challenge, as well as the first and third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Catching Fire the movie will soon be released as well, and I am eager to see whether it does justice to the books.

After Katniss and Peeta successfully manage to survive the Hunger Games, they return to District 12. Confused about her feelings, Katniss shuts Peeta out, not sure if what she feels for him is real or if she really loves her best friend Gale Hawthrone.

President Snow visits Katniss, and even though she tells her mother that he is only there to surprise and congratulate her, he threatens her. President Snow hates Katniss for pulling a trick over the government with the berries that saved her and Peeta’s life in the arena, and blames her for the unrest in the districts. He tells her he knows about the kiss between her and Gale shortly after she returned, and tells her very clearly that he will kill everyone she loves if she doesn’t find a way to calm the districts down.

One day in the woods Katniss meets some escapees from another District, and they tell her their hopes to reach District 13, the District that was destroyed by the Capitol in the Dark Days. They insist that there is something there, even though Panem always sees footage of smoking buildings. Their theory is based on the image that is always repeated – proven by a frozen Mockingjay that is present in all the photos. When Katniss returns to the Village, she sees that they indeed are right about one thing – the Mockingjay is in all the footage of District 13.

The Victory Tour is halfway between each Hunger Games and takes the Victor(s) around Panem so that they can visit each district. Katniss and Peeta both know that they must act very in love or face the consequences, and they try their best. Katniss realises that nothing she and Peeta does will be able to stop the uprisings – in Rue’s district they witness a man’s murder after he pays tribute to Katniss for her kindness towards Rue in the arena.

As the 75th Hunger Games is on its’ way, Katniss knows and fears that she will have to tutor a kid whose survival chance in the arena is slim. Every twenty five years it is the Quarter Quell, where the Capitol finds a way to make it even more brutal than usual in the arena. The entire Panem is shocked when President Snow announces that the Quarter Quell’s tributes will be from previous tributes, meaning Katniss and Peeta are available to be chosen. Katniss knows she is going, since she is the only female winner in her district, and Peeta volunteers immediately when Haymitch’s name is pulled out. They both now that this isn’t some strange coincidence, and that Snow is just getting back at them.

When they return to the Capitol to prepare for the Games, Katniss meets some of the other tributes from the rest of the districts. Most importantly she meets Finnick Odair, a shockingly attractive winner from another Hunger Games. She ignores him, but he tries very hard to gain her trust. She also meets Johanna Mason, a girl she instantly dislikes.

Peeta causes trouble the night of their interview with Caesar Flickerman when he announces that Katniss is pregnant with his child. This sends the audience into an uproar, sending a pregnant woman into the arena. Katniss knows it isn’t true, but she realizes that this just makes the population even angrier at the government’s cruelty. All the tributes find a way to make the government look cruel, and questions President Snow’s authority in very clever ways.

Before Katniss enters the Arena, she witnesses Cinna, her beloved stylist, being dragged away. She enters the arena horrified, but quickly recovers because there are so many horrors within the arena itself. She teams up with Peeta, Finnick and Madge, an old lady from Finnick’s district. Madge quickly offers up her life for the rest of the group. They discover that the arena is working like a clock, and that at each hour a certain horror waits for them in a certain part of the arena.

Together with some new allies, including Johanna, the group starts dodging the horrors. They devise a plan to kill the Careers, tributes who train their entire lives to be in the arena and are very cruel in general. Beete, one of their new allies, makes a plan to kill the Careers by electrocuting the salt lake and hopefully their enemies as well. Things start to go wrong at the last minute, and Katniss is separated from Peeta. She is airlifted out by the rebels, with Finnick Odair. She realizes that Peeta is now in the hands of the government, an easy target to torture and manipulate. Gale, who led the resistance in their own district and managed to evacuate some people when the government started bombing them, tells her that District 12 is no more.

Where is Peeta and is District 13 real?

Rating: 7.5/10

Despite the overused love triangle I enjoyed this book. It is decently written; a great original story and doesn’t include too much useless information. I am glad that the book doesn’t focus too much on the arena – the story there was excellently developed with the time clock and everything, but it would have been exactly like the first book had they focused on the arena again for three hundred pages. There are no obvious surprises waiting, but the intensity of the book grabs you enough to keep you reading. You can’t help but wonder how they will survive again, and who Katniss will choose in the end. She is a bit selfish to be honest, but I can see how she would want to keep both men in her life – she has suffered through tragedy and fiercely loves them both, although she isn’t sure in what way she loves them. The male leads both get points. I cannot choose between Peeta and Gale as they both display good characteristics. Peeta is just a good human being with a decent soul, and Gale is a leader who doesn’t fear much. I have to say that I liked the inclusion of both Finnick and Johanna. Finnick is at least one male who isn’t in love with Katniss, and Johanna isn’t afraid of disliking Katniss.

If you haven’t read the trilogy yet, I would obviously recommend starting at the first book, and then working your way through. This book’s movie is being released within the next month, so I would advise you to read it and then we can bitch together if they don’t do it justice 😉

What I love about Dystopian Fiction is that there is always a slight possibility that something similar might happen. It is horrifying on a true level, and I can see why it is a plausible idea. Governments routinely terrify their citizens, and use force to keep them in check. Perhaps it is unfair to compare most countries to Panem, but I can think of a few where children are sent into war and expected to survive no matter what the cost.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Catching Fire (Susan Collins)

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins) | Life of this city girl

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