It’s always fun reviewing your favourite book in a series.
Katniss Everdeen should be happy. She survived the Hunger Games, her family now lives comfortably in District 12, and she is back in the company of her friend, Gale.
But despite winning the Games, Katniss is still closely watched by all of Panem, watched too closely to be happy. Gale distances himself and Peeta can’t even look at her. As victor, she must visit all of the districts on the Victory Tour, a way to maintain the influence of the Games in the winters between the annual events. She must
But for Katniss, the Victory Tour is her only opportunity to convince Panem that her actions were not rebellious—that she was head over heels in love with Peeta. But even if she can—and she’s not sure she is—the districts seem to have their minds made up with rebellion.
What I love so much about the Catching Fire is that the plot of The Hunger Games gets kicked up a notch. Or possibly twelve.
In the first novel, we don’t get to see much of the political strife and situation in Panem, since we spend most of the book with Katniss in the arena. Now, we get a full survey of the status of Panem.
And this book is just full of twists. I remember that the first time I read it, I was just shocked with each new plot point. It’s extremely clever, and it makes for a really entertaining read.
What really makes this plot shine, however, is that Katniss’ task is futile. Despite Snow’s insistence that the rebellious attitude is her fault, it is so completely out of her control. And reading how this mindset manipulates Katniss really sets up the final book, Mockingjay.
My one problem is that the romance is weak. It’s the trouble with a love triangle. I don’t really believe that Katniss loves Gale. She’s attached to him, for sure, but I don’t think they work together romantically.
Once again, there are too many characters to talk about. The other victors are just so carefully constructed. Haymitch, Finnick, Mags, Beetee, Johanna—all of them have distinct characteristics and are broken in different ways because of the Games.
Katniss in this book is such an interesting character to read about because I kept trying to track which decisions were hers and which were guided. And by doing so, it makes it easy to see who she really is.
But the real treat of this book is that we get a glimpse of the Capitol and its society. We see that they are still human, albeit vain and selfish ones. As much as their indulgence horrifies us, their compassion stretches farther.
Just like The Hunger Games, Katniss’ point view puts the reader in a specific perspective that colours the scenes.
In terms of composition though, I find it amazing that Collins can balance humourous and heavy content. Catching Fire is one of my favourite book to movie adaptations, though regrettably, they cut out a lot of the humour and quiet moments that balance out the death and drama. And I really appreciate that in the novel.
I mean, Katniss and Peeta’s last day on the roof of the training centre? Freaking perfect.
There’s definitely a deep discussion on mob mentality in this book. How, once something as big as a rebellion begins, it’s no longer in the control of any one person.
But I also like to think that compassion is a huge part of this book as well. Catching Fire is very emotional, because not only is the reader attached to the characters, but the tributes are attached to each other. It makes each death even more painful and heartbreaking.
Recommendation: Bookmarked for life. I adore Catching Fire as the perfect sequel in a series. Building on the first novel while setting up the finale, Collins’ second instalment of The Hunger Games Trilogy is my favourite in the series.