REVIEW: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Last month I concluded the first book in this trilogy called The Hunger Games. Immediately after I finished this book, I immediately went to Amazon and ordered the second and third books in this trilogy.  I received the order while I was in San Francisco visiting a friend, but the minute I came back I pulled the book out of the box and began reading it. For the record, I don’t hold sequels in such high regard, I find that if series go on too long they tend to lose their steam and the characters lose their fire.  However, I was very pleased to find that this was not the case with Catching Fire.

Beginning months after the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games ended, with the surprise of two victors, Katniss and Peeta are preparing to embark on their victory tour with Katniss very aware of the capitol’s anger towards the stunt she pulled during her time as a tribute.  Katniss is not looking forward to the tour as she has to pretend that she and Peeta are happily in love, and shortly before their departure, she is visited by President Snow who challenges her to convince him that they weren’t faking the romance between them. As our two favorite victors venture on through Panem, visiting each Capitol, they are pressed to show their love publicly and to reign in their protests regarding the capitol.  As the tour concludes and they return to their home in District 12,  Katniss comes to realize that as a victor of The Hunger Games her life will never be her own again.

Faced with the prospect of marrying Peeta and hiding her affections for Gale, Katniss begins to plot an escape, going over the fence that surrounds District 12 to a place where the government can’t find them.  However her plans are cut short when a new peacekeeper comes into town stirring up trouble. Meanwhile wedding gifts pour in from the capitol and the Quarter Quell, a twist in The Hunger Games that occurs ever twenty-five years, is drawing near.  On the night that Katniss’s wedding dress photoshoot appears on the television, so does the reading of the predestined twist for the Seventy-Fifth Hunger Games, announcing that this year, the winners will be drawn from the surviving pool of victors, and forcing Katniss and Peeta back into the arena.

From there Catching Fire, takes the reader on a wild ride as the game gets turned on his head, making it exceptionally hard for the existing victors. The ages of which, range from teens to senior citizens.  As their second round in the arena goes onward so does the disdain of the citizens of Panem, and the revolution begins.

I mentioned before that I never really like sequels. This is largely because I find that the pace and depth that makes most of the original characters loveable is lost as they try to draw out their storyline for one more book. This is not the case with Catching Fire.  I couldn’t put this book down. Each time I read a new chapter it seemed like there was a new complication and a new face paced problem for the characters to solve.  Katniss’s internal narration lends a lot to the story, showing us her evolution.

The very end of Catching Fire also left me starving for more.  As I got towards the end I was wondering how Collins planned to wrap up the book in just two short chapters, but the way she handled it was just about perfect. One of the twists revealed at the very end is pretty relevant for anyone whose good at predicting plots, but the action sequence written in one of the final chapters does not disappoint and the final conclusion is just as fulfilling.

Another point is this books favor, is the last sentence. Just as important as the first words, the last words are what makes a book stay in a reader’s memory and lets the reader imagine where the story might be going if it’s part of a series. This is something Collin’s does beautifully at the end of Catching Fire. While the reader is aware of the result of the events she describes in the book, she makes us aware of other possible repercussions for Katniss, much like she did at the end of The Hunger Games.  Such is the last impression I got with Catching Fire. Upon reaching the last sentence I found myself hoping that Mockingjay, the third book, would show up at my doorstep the following day, however it didn’t and I am still anxiously awaiting the conclusion of this brilliant trilogy.

Final Grade : A+

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