Catching Fire is written by Suzanne Collins. It was published in 2009 by Scholastic. It is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. Collins’ website can be found here.
Spoilers for The Hunger Games.
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult, Survival
“Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol—a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.”
Back in our old quarters in the Training Center, I’m the one who suggests the public marriage proposal. Peeta agrees to do it but then disappears in his room for a long time. Haymitch tells me to leave him alone.
“I thought he wanted it, anyway,” I say.
“Not like this,” Haymitch says. “He wanted it to be real.”
I go back to my room and lie under the covers, trying not to think of Gale and thinking of nothing else.
“What do you think they’ll do, Haymitch? To the districts that are rebelling?” I ask.
“Well, you’ve heard what they did in Eight. You’ve seen what they did here, and that was without provocation,” says Haymitch. “If things really do get out of hand, I think they’d have no problem killing off another district, same as they did Thirteen. Make an example of it, you know?”
“So you think Thirteen was really destroyed? I mean, Bonnie and Twill were right about the footage of the mockingjay,” I say.
“Okay, but what does that prove? Nothing, really. There are plenty of reasons they could be using old footage. Probably it looks more impressive. And it’s a lot simpler, isn’t it? To just press a few buttons in the editing room than to fly all the way out there and film it?” he says. “The idea that Thirteen has somehow rebounded and the Capitol is ignoring it? That sounds like the kind of rumor desperate people cling to.”
“I know. I was just hoping,” I say.
“Exactly. Because you’re desperate,” says Haymitch.
I don’t argue because, of course, he’s right.
Warnings: Violence, death.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
What I Liked:
I think I want to talk first about the love triangle that really raises its head in this book. Obviously, it’s GalexKatnissxPeeta, and to me, it’s a very interesting love triangle. Katniss seems to waver back and forth between the two. Or does she? At the beginning of the book, it’s obvious it’s Gale. She realizes it herself after his whipping. She even states how she chose Gale over Peeta. Then, towards the end…it turns to look more like it’s Peeta. Just think about how Katniss can’t handle him dying. And how they kissed in the arena. And it’s also neither, because Katniss has a rebellion to think about and can’t be bothered with something as distracting as love. She’s also confused (“Of course, I love Gale. But what kind of love does she mean? What do I mean when I say I love Gale?” [Collins 125]).For me, it was very obvious that it was going to end up being Peeta, for many reasons, most of which were because of their interactions in the arena. Gale is only there as a possibility, because, again, these two boys represent two different things. Peeta is goodness, as I said in my first review. He’s also steadfastness and selflessness. He’s willing to let Katniss go so that she is happy. Gale is familiarity, but he’s also rebellion. He matches Katniss’ own ruthless side. Katniss could chose either of them, really, and be happy with either. They both represent different possibilities. Which possibility will Katniss choose? To put it another way, which possibility is ultimately the best for her to choose? In my opinion, it’s very clear at the end of the second book that she chooses Peeta (and, arguably, that Peeta is the best choice).
Note: Keep in mind that Katniss thinks of herself as selfish. It’s very important, especially for the last book, in understanding her development.
The Games of this book felt very different to the Games of the first book. Perhaps it was because there was an alliance going on, or something, but it felt less urgent than the first, for some reason. But at the same time, it felt more tense, because you can tell that something is building up.
A lot of difficult choices that Katniss made in this book. Her development is really starting to unfold. She recognizes her flaws, which is good, and at some points she overcomes them, and at some points, she does not. It’s a tough journey, and it will only get tougher from here, unfortunately, because poor Katniss really gets put through the wringer in Mockingjay.
What I Didn’t Like:
Catching Fire is sooooo slow at the beginning. And the end is very fast, so it’s a very uneven pace. It’s like, “doo-doo-doo-doo District 12, hmm hmm hmm hmm Victory Tour, da-dee-da District 12, BAM GAMES BAM ENDING.” And, unfortunately, slow beginnings tend to stick with you, because it’s the one thing I remembered the most about this book. The other bad thing about slow beginnings is that nothing seems to happen even though a lot of stuff is. Like I said, it’s very uneven.
The ending is one of those cheesy cliffhangers. I always hate it when second books do that. First books always finish as if they were stand-alones, second books always have a cliffhanger. Blarg.
The information about District 13 at the end was revealed very mechanically. Maybe that was supposed to represent Katniss’ frame of mind? The “Says Haymitch!” part was done so much better, and only a page before.
Catching Fire has a slow start and a very fast end, and it’s probably the weakest in the series. That being said, I love the love-triangle dynamic (I know, right? I couldn’t believe it either!) and the revelations it makes about Katniss, Peeta, and Gale’s characters and what they represent. The Games was a very interesting one, and, judging by where Collins left the characters, the third book promises to be one heck of a ride.
You can buy this book here: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
And the movie here: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy)