Sunday, December 22, 2013

Blogmas Day 22: Catching Fire Book Review

Title: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Source: Bought-Easons
Amazon | Easons

Sparks are igniting. 
Flames are spreading. 
And the Capitol wants revenge.

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.

Despite how Catching Fire's predecessor ended, void of any real cliff-hangers that is, I was still really excited to read it. The second book opens with an unexpected visit from President Snow, and the significant white rose he gives Katniss. I don't know if any of you have read 'Othello' by Shakespeare, but that almost reminded me of Dasdamona's handkerchief. Anyway, our beloved protagonists have become lovebirds of the Capitol after the conclusion of the 74th Hunger Games, and are on their victory tour, travelling the world of Panem, continuously being reminded of the games with every passing District. The thing that gnaws at readers' heartstrings, however, is the evident irony set in place.

Katniss and Peeta were supposed to be helplessly in love with each other right? But that facade is only shown to Panem's citizens, the readers, and desperate fans, are shown otherwise. The two couldn't be more separated. I was really surprised by this, as I'm sure many other fans were. We all knew that Peeta's feelings for Katniss weren't exactly mutual, but we didn't expect, or at least I didn't expect it to be unrequited. Suzanne Collins, by her creating this sort of rift, emphasises the extent to which Katniss and Peeta were damaged by the games and also allows the readers to explore further, the two characters.

Collins, the author, is so cautious in her developing the two characters, especially in the first part of 'Catching Fire'. The already layered protagonist, Katniss, is built upon even more in the sequel. In the previous book, she was strong, and brave, and independent, but we didn't exactly see much of the negatives. In Catching Fire, however, her fragile, vulnerable and confused sides are highlighted. I didn't think it would be possible to like Katniss more, but after reading the second book, after experiencing her development as a character, she became my favourite female protagonist, like ever. And that all leads back to the brilliant author!
Peeta, albeit his development wasn't as drastic as his partners, still went through some major changes. I think it's fair to say that, in the first book, Peeta was quite naive, to say the least, but in the second, he's much more mature. One part of the book that really stands out to me, is when he and Katniss were having trouble sleeping, while on the Victory tour, and he stayed with and comforted Katniss. It tells a lot of his character, but I think that part sums it up!

We were introduced to so many new characters this time around, but somehow I wasn't overwhelmed with the varying personas. Collins built each and every one of them to the necessary point, and no further. Gale's fierce loyalties and desire to play his part, were perfectly brought to life. New character Finnick's attractive personality and compelling past definitely hooked readers, as did Haymitch's drinking problem, still existent from the last book, and his lovable self. And Johanna.. just her character in general, was enough to keep me reading. I don't think I have to continue summarising the formidable characterisation in Catching Fire to prove my point, because that would just take far too long, and I think I have already! Haha

Catching Fire was my favourite book of the trilogy, and that's simply because of the plot. Quite a few people will dislike the sequel because it's kind of the transition from the exciting games of 'The Hunger Games', to the all out war of 'Mockingjay'. But I couldn't disagree more with those people!

The first part of the book focused on the aftermath of the 74th Games; the telltale signs of rebellion in the Districts, the outbreak in District 8, recruiting of many more peacekeepers, and the execution of that poor old man in District 11. Oh and Gale's public whipping. That all was really thrilling in itself, because Collins exploited the opportunity to give readers more insight into the districts of Panem. Even though a lot of it was political, it didn't necessarily feel that way when I was reading it, which is an added bonus, both for the readers, and the author. A win-win.

The second part of Catching Fire focused on the 75th games, which was most exciting, personally. To reiterate, the world building in Catching Fire was brilliant, and in a subtle way too! The introduction of the 'Quarter Quell' itself was source enough for readers to obtain a better understanding of the Games and Panem's society.
There wasn't one dull moment when the Games began. From the poisonous fog, to the lightning tree, readers are kept so entertained, that smoke is left on pages of books due to speedy reading! Haha. The pace of the story started off moderately, speeding up and speeding up, until the Games were over and fans were left with what can be described as the most painful cliffhanger ever.

All in all, 'Catching Fire' proved itself as a more than worthy sequel, and readers will definitely want to read on, if not need to read on, as a result.

My favourite 'Catching Fire' review 
Istyria Book Blog

What did you guys think of Catching Fire?
The review of Mockingjay will be up tomorrow for day 23!

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