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Can the Girl on Fire be Caught?
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Member Name: cha97mw
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Advantages: well established characters and location means plot can really motor along
Disadvantages: Katniss's character was emotionally all over the place, and I wasn't sure it fit right for me.
Catching Fire is part two of a trilogy of books written by established author Suzanne Collins in the late 2000s, and recently made very popular since the first novel was made into a film.
The book is set in a futuristic America, known as Panem. Life is not as we know it now, but the country is divided up into 12 districts, with the Capitol City ruling the country. The country is run by a President Snow, who lives in wealth, while the districts that provide all the goods and services for the country live in poverty.
The highlight of the year is the annual TV reality show, the Hunger Games, where a male and female aged between 12 and 18 from each district is selected to take part in this barbaric fight to the death, where only one entrant can walk out a survivor.
Book one saw the main character and narrator in the trilogy, Katniss Everdeen, volunteering to enter the fighting Arena instead of her beloved younger sister Prim. Whilst very much the Underdog, Katniss became quite popular with the population with her fair behaviour, and a love affair with her fellow contestant Peeta.
This novel picks up a few months after the first one ended. Katniss is now living back in District 12, but life has very much changed for her from before she went into the Games. She now lives in a different house, and is wealthier than she ever imagined. Life is about to get complicated again for her when she is preparing to go on the Winner's tour of all the Districts. It is made very clear to her that she has been very defiant, and her behaviour has caused upset to the leaders. She must settle unrest in the country by maintaining her pretend relationship, otherwise her family and friends are in a lot of danger.
The country is a country at unrest. Katniss and Peeta witness some things that they shouldn't have, and when they get back home, they find that the laid back attitude their district has had in the past to the rules of the country has changed. The Peacekeepers sent to maintain order are a threat on the horizon.
Matters get really complicated for Katniss, as this particular year is an important one in the Hunger Games history, and as a special treat, it is decided that this year all entrants must be previous winners of the show, so she has to face her worst nightmare and go back into the Arena. She survived once, but the odds do not look good for her to do it again.
This book had me just as engrossed from the start as book one in the trilogy did. If anything, I was more engrossed now being familiar with the setting and characters. The tension was pretty much a constant throughout the novel. Katniss is described as having bitten her finger nails to the bed, and you really do get a sense of the panic she is feeling at how the situation is getting out of her control and there is not a lot she can do about it.
I felt sometimes the way her character was portrayed was very emotional, and this was in conflict a bit with the strong character that you know that she is. For example, fits of crying in a couple of points, when you know that even when her father died, she had to be strong for her family. I felt this was how she might have reacted here too. The 'relationship' dilemnas also seemed a little odd as she is a brusk character who doesn't have much time for anyone apart from her little sister. She's not the sort who leaves herself open to emotion after the hurt of losing her father. However, there is the element of you don't know how people will react when put in a pressure pot situation.
I feel this book was just as strong as book one, if not perhaps a bit stronger because it was free to be mainly plot and suspence without the need for scene setting. The action starts pretty much instantly, and it ends in a manner where you know you pick the next one up, and it will start up again pretty much straight away chronologically and then continue to be dramatic.
I love the way this is slightly futuristic, but also the people and the emotions are just the way that people act in present time. Although this is a young adult novel, the content is still quite violent in implication, although missing any raunch. The relationship between Peeta and Katniss is very PG, much in the same way as the relationship between Edward and Bella in Twilight. Lots of looks and kissing, but nothing more. However, I find reading this as an adult very refreshing and the author is skilled in moving the plot along without having to resort to using sex between the characters.
The imagery used by the author is excellent, from her description of the costumes, to her creating empathy for the characters, and her description of the games. I am now itching to move onto book 3 in the series and find out the fate of the people of Panem.
Summary: Catching fire made me pause and catch my breath.