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The Games are over...or are they?
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: Anti
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: Plot once again powerful with gripping narrative, consistent and developed characterization.
Disadvantages: Anti-climatic, perhaps rushed, ending
'Catching Fire' is the sequel to Suzanne Collins's popular bestseller (and now feature film) 'The Hunger Games' as the second of a trilogy. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first book I couldn't wait to dive into this instalment- but is this instalment as good?
In the previous book, both the main character Katniss Everdeen, as well as her friend and fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark, have been victorious in The Hunger Games- a brutal televised battle to the death between children (known as 'tributes') for entertainment enforced by the governing regime. Several months on, the two of them have to do usual public celebrations as the official Hunger Games victors, but their unprecedented double victory has sparked controversy- and uprisings- around the country of Panem. As far as President Snow is concerned, the blame is mostly at Katniss's door, but as she struggles to save face over her duties to not incite further unrest, a new announcement is made regarding the next Hunger Games, since this year is a milestone, that will shock the country. The new tributes are to be picked from previous victors of the Games- meaning Katniss will most definitely be fighting for her life again.
I find 'Catching Fire' to be a worthy follow up book to the original. Collins writes with the same tension-filled narrative that kept me glued to every page and not wanting to turn away. She keeps you on your toes with cliffhangers and shocking moments aplenty; if you thought that actions in the first book stunned you, then there are very powerful moments that almost made me gasp aloud with how unexpected they crept into the narrative.
Once again the characterization is brilliant, and we get some more development into secondary characters. We got a few moments of Katniss's best friend Gale in the first book, but here his views on the politics of Panem and his feelings for Katniss in general are developed further, almost to the point of conflict between them. Likewise, we learn more about previous Games and the former victors who are to be included in the upcoming one, each with their own personalities and possibly damaged psyches, and through Katniss's perspective I became quite attached to some of them even if they have to kill or be killed.
So whilst the story is well-paced, my only gripe with 'Catching Fire' is the ending, which is a bit of a letdown. I say 'a bit' because it ends a shocking cliffhanger that did made me want to grab my copy of 'Mockingjay' (final book in the trilogy) to see what happens next, which of course is a plus. My problem was more with the conclusion in general; I won't spoil it for you, but I found it a bit anti-climatic and what happens in the last couple chapters was for me a bit too much to comprehend immediately. I certainly got the impression that the author ended it this way as a sign that the sequel is definitely coming, so it didn't have much a sense of closure as even the first book does (apparently, Suzanne Collins didn't plan 'The Hunger Games' on being a trilogy).
'Catching Fire' is another great read by Suzanne Collins and has as brilliant, compelling storytelling as 'The Hunger Games' does. The ending is a bit of a drawback and I will be knocking off a star for that, but I would definitely read these first two books again and am ready to tackle the final book of the trilogy now!
(Review also on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
Summary: A great sequel to the original, but ending is somewhat of a letdown.