Novel Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

As you know if you read yesterday’s review post, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins touched me. Not there, silly. No, it touched my heart. In truth, I absolutely, positively love, Love, LOVED the Hunger Games. So much in fact, that I ordered the next book in the trilogy Catching Fire almost as soon as I flipped to the last page. Then I took it one step further and forced the Hunger Games on my daughter, who also LOVED it. Now I’m pushing my mother to read it. So before I go into the second book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, the teaser from Ms. Collin’s website:

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

I feel the need to start by mentioning the cover. As you can see, I’ve got the cool UK cover. Thanks to the Book Depository, I got to choose which one I wanted (UK or US). Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, back to Catching Fire.

One of the things I like about the Hunger Games and now Catching Fire is the realism of children growing old before their time. Catching Fire is not a youthful book.Yes, the children are young, but they’ve faced too many trials and suffered to much to hold on to their innocence. They don’t have the typical immature thought patterns I remember as a youngster. They don’t have time to be anything but adults despite their age. It’s sad, but true, and I like the truth in it as much as it saddens me.

Catching Fire was quite different from the Hunger Games. More so than ever, the focus is on Gale and Katniss. It’s like a tragic love story which puts Romeo and Juliet to shame. Once again this book had me on the verge of tears. Not just for the situation Gale and Katniss lived but also for the people around them. No matter how much the two victors gave, no matter how perfect the gifts, I could never forget their generosity never compensated for the sacrifices and lost.

I just finished watching an episode of Nip/Tuck when Christian’s son was kidnapped, and his fiancee thought the boy was taken to be an organ donor. The presumed kidnapper realized she’d reached the low–the unthinkable. How could anyone ever go so beyond humanity to think it was okay to hurt a child? That’s the Hunger Games. That’s the Capital in the Catching Fire. I reached the end of chapter 4 and all I could think was OMG! Once I got over the shock, I realized President Snow was serious. He was taking no hostages. Any good which might have been in his little shriveled soul had caught fire and turned to ash.

I worked at a youth development center (YDC) for juvenile delinquent girls (kiddie prison really). We had 2-4 youth counselors/behavioral specialist (aka guards) per 8-16 girls. Which came to a ratio of 1:8 on the worst days and 1:2 on the best days. There was always the feeling that if the girls ever got riled enough to ban together, there would be little we (guards) could do to keep from being overwhelmed. There just wasn’t enough of us. Sometimes I think about the things which kept the girls compliant. We offered a safe environment, at least the best we could against the occasional girl who flipped for the day. They had three hot meals every day plus snacks and treats. We cared for them. Maybe not like we did our own children, but we wanted the best for them and wanted them to get on the right track. I’m not saying we were perfect, but I think the girls still knew we cared. And if they complied at least to a satisfactory level, they had the hope of leaving the YDC within a reasonable time period. A chance to experience freedom again. Until then they were prisoners with limited freedom. I wondered if we were the opposite, like the people from the Capitol, how long would the compliance last? Every last girl we had was a violent offender. It’s odd how one moment can change everything. One choice leads another to choose until it creates a snowball effect.

I didn’t see much of Gale in the first book. This book he came out to play from time to time, and I like him. He was candid and had a sense of humor. I liked it. I’d always seen Peeta as insignificant, weak even, though completely dedicated to Katniss. Gale on the other hand, I saw as a pillar…an equal to Katniss. I’m very much interested in how things will turn out in the end for them in Mockingjay.

In Hunger Games, Katniss was focused and determined to survive. In Catching Fire she was no different, but this time had an awareness of herself on a psychological level. She saw herself as selfish and self-pitying but couldn’t shake the feelings. But really, when in misery, it’s so hard to think of others, and I love that Ms. Collins brought that factor to the forefront.

For me, Catching fire was about truths. The honesty was astounding. The idea someone knew their limits and verbalized them had me in awe. And the honesty to do the brave thing for the good of others nearly broke my heart.

Take a moment to read some of my favorite lines as I dry my eyes:

  • I want to point out that twenty-two dead tributes will never recover from the games he helped create, either.
  • I looked up into those blue eyes that no amount of dramatic make-up can make truly deadly and remember how, just a year ago, I was prepared to kill him.
  • They’ve got years to eat sugar, wheras you and I…well, if we see something sweet, we bettter grab it quick.
  • My foolish, shallow, affectionate pets, with their obsessions with feathers and parties, nearly break my heart with their goodbye.
  • This is no place for a girl on fire.

Alright, I’m back.  So the UK version used the Metric System. Anyone want to tell me if the US version used the Standard version? It’s been nagging at me.

On a side note, when Catching Fire landed in my mailbox, and I dropped everything and devoured this book while my daughter watched hungrily from the side. I passed it to her and consumed it. She turned to the last page, and the scene with Stuart Townsend from “Queen of the Damned,” she sat up and said, “More.” Talk about freaky.

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0 thoughts on “Novel Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

  1. Great review!!!

    I LOVED this book! this and THG are works of art in the literary department! Amazing books! I cant wait for Mockingjay! =D

  2. Same here. My daughter finished Catching Fire last week and immediately started pestering me about Mockingjay. Waiting is so hard.

  3. Pingback: Novel Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins » Reena's Blog

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