Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Catching FireCatching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Since the first book, The Hunger Games, ended on a cliffhanger, I was desperate to read this book—but when I realized that the sequels weren’t out in paperback yet (they still aren’t, as far as I know), my OCD kicked in and I refused to buy them since my first copy was a paperback and I need the set to be uniform. And thus, because of my OCD and my laziness, I never borrowed the second two from the library. Finally, I discovered my coworker had borrowed the two sequels from her cousin, and was willing to lend them to me, so I borrowed them.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without giving major plot points away, but this is the basic idea: Katniss and Peeta’s actions in the arena have resulted in whispers of a rebellion. They have ignited a flame that they don’t know if they can stop—and, worse, don’t know if they want to. President Snow has threatened to kill everyone Katniss loves if she does not prove within a shadow of a doubt that she is head over heels in love with Peeta, thus quieting the unrest in the districts. But as unrest increases uncontrollably, the stakes get higher and higher until the one thing Katniss fears most comes to be.

Since I read the last two books in such quick succession, it’s hard for me to separate them in my head, but here goes. Alert: Spoilers ahead!

I don’t think I expected the districts to rebel, but I’m glad they did—it felt right. The repercussions were horrifying, though: the old man in 11 who whistled; Gale being whipped and Darius being turned into an Avox; and, finally, Katniss and Peeta being sent back to the arena for the Quarter Quell. That is definitely something I didn’t expect, and wanted to cry when I read it.

My main beef with these books is that I’m not a particular fan of the writing style. I’ve been spoiled by Jane Austen and love to curl up in long, luxurious sentences—something Collins doesn’t allow with her choppy fragments. I will grudgingly admit that it works, considering the fact that the narrator is a teenage girl who has been through some incredibly traumatic things and the intent is to be relentless, much like the horrors Katniss faces daily, but it gets irritating at times.

Despite fragment annoyingness, though, here is where Collins really reveals either her incredible imagination or her extraordinarily sick mind. The tributes for this Hunger Games are drawn from the pool of previous victors, even though victors have always been guaranteed immunity from future games, as a special reminder to the districts that they will always be subject to the powers of the Capitol. They face undreamed-of horrors in the arena, including showers of blood and jabberjays that scream like loved ones being tortured. And this time, Katniss’ only goal is to keep Peeta alive at all costs, despite the fact that she knows this will cost her life.

This was a quick but intense read, and if you’ve read The Hunger Games you absolutely have to read Catching Fire (but that probably goes without saying). If you’re frustrated by the angsty love story, don’t give up; the book is written for teens, yes, but its messages radiate beyond teenage angst, I promise.

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