Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Review by Joshua S Hill
Sequels are such a tricky proposition for an author, especially one who has found success – both critical and popular – with her original outing. I am unsure of the progression of her writing, publication and success, but Suzanne Collins has once again captured my heart and mind with her second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, ‘Catching Fire’.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peter Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.
So says the back of the book and successfully sums up what I can’t be bothered trying to summarise for you. Instead, I want to focus on the amazing storytelling ability of Suzanne Collins.
My ex-girlfriend asked me who the books were aimed at; adults or youth? I replied;
Fourteen year old girls, no doubt about it … so perfect for me.
No, I’m not a fourteen year old girl, but the ease with which Collins tells a story that both me and a fourteen year old girl would enjoy is sublime. Yes, the romantic aspects of this book are probably mightily appealing to the younger generations: the relationships that Katniss experiences are fraught with inexperience and confusion, and oh so very cute to watch. She has no idea what to do when it comes to boys, but give her an arrow and an onrushing enemy and she’s fine.
The twists that this book took were quite amazing. I had accidentally read the back cover of ‘Mockingjay’ prior to reading this book, and was aware that something was going to happen but not exactly how it could happen. When it did, I was shocked and my heart wrenched for Katniss and the others. As that story progressed I was continually spun around an emotional turbine, actually rooting for Katniss despite her goals.
The supporting cast in this book – especially the amount of time we get to spend with Katniss, Prim and their mother – make this book on par, if not better, than the original. The time spent in District 12 is really quite revealing, and continues to open up the world which we were so tantalizingly brought near in the first book.
The last portion of the book is, as expected, fraught with moment after moment of on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment and adventure. Collins has the gift of pacing a story out so perfectly that I’m wondering who she sold to the devil. (Could someone check on her significant others please?) Pacing is normally a difficult thing for an author to nail, but Collins seems to have no problems, weaving a story that never stops but doesn’t leave you exhausted, simply exhilarated.
You want to read this book. There is no other recommendation I can give than that. No matter your age, sex, or favoured genre, Catching Fire will leave you breathless with equal measures of excitement, heartbreak and anticipation for more.
William from Blackpool, England
Such an overrated book series, I used to like them much more when they were first released until this whole fad began. Now everybody is calling it a classic? There is nothing powerful about the story, the themes aren't deep at all, their melodramatic. If you want a deep young adult story, seriously read Harry Potter or Ender's Game instead. Much better, though this book is sporadically entertaining enough.
Thaddeus from Canada
I am angry at the high rating this book received. Catching Fire is one of the most disappointing, over-hyped and over rated books of the YA genre. This book focuses less on Katniss' strength through a tough cause but on her relationship with two boys that have become smitten with her. It's completely awful, seeing her move from boy to boy like a little harlot. I thought Collins had something good here but it turned out to be a major disappointment that manipulated the readers into reading the third book with lame twists and unfair treatment of her secondary characters.
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