I have been preaching the gospel of The Hunger Games since I started reading the series recently, recommending it to everyone I know (even one person I didn’t know!). Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I bought it while I was still reading the first book, because I knew I’d want it immediately. However, after The Hunger Games, I read My Sister’s Keeper first, because I didn’t want to rush the series. Now, I’m down to one book left, and I already miss it. It’s been a long while since a book has affected me like this.
Catching Fire focuses on Katniss Everdeen’s post-Hunger Games life, and the changing political climate in Panem. The “catching fire” of the title refers to Katniss having been a spark for revolution in the first book, and the idea for revolution now spreading like a brush fire across the country. Catching Fire was a slower, but more thoughtful read than the first. Whereas The Hunger Games sped along, because there was suspense in whether or not Katniss and her friends/family would survive, Catching Fire was more about exploring ideas and fleshing out relationships. It also raised the political stakes, and forces you to ask yourself what you would do in Katniss’ place. Would you stand up against oppression, or would you keep your head down and worry only about your own survival? The answers aren’t simple, and Katniss isn’t a cookie-cutter heroine who is a paragon of activism. She’s a strong girl, but she is also scared and more experienced with taking care of herself than she is with worrying about the larger picture. She is learning to think beyond day-to-day survivial to the kind of world she’d like to grow old in and raise children in.
I also love what Collins has done with Peeta, who matches Katniss in complexity. Honestly, I don’t understand the appeal with Gale. I sort of imagine him as Katniss’ Jordan Catalano – like, yeah he looks great leaning up against a locker…but he can’t read, you know? Granted, he’s a bit more than that, and they’ve been best friends forever, but still. I’m Team Peeta.
There are also some wonderful new characters in this book. Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason are both deceptively shallow at first, but stick with them. They are intriguing additions to the world of the Hunger Games.
The world of this trilogy gets more complex and mature in this book, and the slow simmer of most of the book gives way to a huge boil at the end when the stakes are raised even higher for everyone.
Collins has amazed me once again with Catching Fire, and I can’t get Panem and its inhabitants out of my head. I’ll be reading another book before reading the final installment, Mockingjay, because I’m just not ready for this story to end!
Currently Reading: Great House by Nicole Krauss