Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
To think this review’s being typed while my body’s still suffering from caffeine withdrawal and I’ve only been up for approximately an hour. As result, how am I to type a meaningful, detailed review of the newest installment within The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Well, I guess I’ll just have to force my body to cooperate for twenty minutes to work against exhaustion and the growing need for sleep.
(Warning! Spoilers) For those who are unfamiliar with the first book, please do not read the below review, otherwise you’ll be spoiled!! Thanks!!
“Catching Fire,” begins a few months after the first book ended with Katniss and Peeta arriving home from the games, which were the first games to have “two” winners. Right from the start, Suzanne Collin effectively bridges the last chapter of the first novel and the first chapter of the second by slowly, but effectively transitioning us back into the action of the book. Even if the book does not begin with a tournament, it’s still a page turner just as with last. As I progressed through this novel, I found it increasingly difficult to tear myself from the pages of this book
Suzanne Collins effectively builds the tension of the novel’s main conflict whilst developing the characters even further. Within the first novel, Katniss constantly feuded over her feelings over Peeta of whether or not they were real. In this novel, as she’s taking a much needed respite from the tournament, she’s forced to go through even more confusion in relation to the feelings she’s experiencing. Being a teen and having to go through this awkward stage of teen life; I really resonated with Katniss’s dilemma since defining one’s feelings and making them clear is a personal struggle for all teens. At this age, with our lack of experiences, we do have a clear understanding of what truly defines one’s feelings as love. For their feelings as with Katniss’s may be self created all for the sake of protecting her younger sister and mother.
Besides, Katniss, each and every character’s treated fairly and they’re all given their own distinct personality and personal struggle. Being a person who suffers from character name dementia, it helped that no one character had repeating personalities. This allowed me to easily recognize each character by their characteristics. Rather than become overwhelmed with trying to fit a certain character with a name. And when your book has strange names such as “Katniss,” and “Peeta,” can you really expect readers of any age to recall their names especially if they are characters with minimal involvement within the book?
The second half was where Suzanne Collin’s strengths as an author really showed. The way she deftly balances character interaction with intense action sequences amazes me. As a writer, I find it very hard to write action sequences that maintain the personalities of characters. When the action sequences retain the humanity and personality of the characters, they’re far more tense and nail biting. That’s because we’re connected to the characters and worried for their survival. And within this novel, we’re not sure that they’re entirely safe from death. Peril or tragedy always awaits to cross paths with these characters. The reader’s drawn to the foreboding sense of danger and as result we’re feeling the tension that the characters are feeling all throughout.
I can’t stop heralding this novel for it’s themes of bravery and the importance of maintaining friendship in the midst of chaos. And the author deserves the highest honor for allowing all characters an equal chance of dying. With some novels, we’re confident that a character shall survive the entire novel. Though with “Catching Fire,” I felt that Katniss and Peeta could die at any given moment.
Now this may be a disgusting detail and somewhat inappropriate but there are sweat marks subtly painted on the cover of the book and alongside the spine. If you do not believe that this novel causes an adrenaline rush then that detail should rightfully convince you. You’ll be exhibiting every nervous tick known to man as you’re reading this. Because every page has as much suspense as the next. Every page rivets you, even the smallest sentence of half a page imbues you with a sense of urgency.
No book in recent memory has compelled as this novel has. I know that this review seems to be filled with a bit too much praise. If there was only one detractor it would be the occasional tendency for the author to skimp on some details of minor characters. And sometimes she quickly introduces new plot developments without providing any foreshadowing to those events. But these faults are minor in a book that I felt was both tightly plotted and extremely well written.
Now, I’m waiting anxiously for the third book to help abate my worry over whether a certain character’s still alive or not.