Monday 23 June 2014

Book Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #2
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: 1st September 2009
Publishers: Scholistic
Pages: 439
Source: Gifted
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even 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.

The following review may contain spoilers concerning earlier books in the series.
If you have not read the previous installments, please proceed with caution.

After a disappointing introduction to The Hunger Games series, I had been told that Catching Fire was much better than the first installment, and in many ways, these people didn't lie, Catching Fire had a better hold of things in the arena, better character development and more features that I came to like, but still I had the problem I had in The Hunger Games and nothing could make up for that; Katniss.

I know I talked about her a lot in my previous review and I didn't talk about her character in a complimentary fashion, and sadly, I don't think I shall be much in this review. Where Katniss was bearable and slightly annoying in The Hunger Games, I found her attitude positively frustrating and annoying to a degree where I was close to telling the other tributes to step aside and that I'd kill her myself; she wasn't the strong, independent, positive and life changing character everyone else seems to adore, she was on many occasions the weak link, working spontaneously without giving thought to herself or others and she constantly moped and whined about Gale and Peeta when she should have seriously been considering moping and whining about how she might, you know, die. Hunny needed to get her priorities straight, not to mention that she just needed to choose a guy god dammit. You've got two guys who would lie down their life to protect you, so why can't you just ip-dip-dip or something? Seriously, the teasing them and leading them on only made me dislike her even more, and the small odd occasions when I actually could tolerate her terrible, spiteful attitude were definitely not enough to make me forgive and forget. I seriously don't see this character that everybody loves and adores, and I feel cheated and lied to.

I was also disappointed with the pacing and the plot in Catching Fire. Much like with other 'second' books, there's a lot of recapping, which I can understand, but find annoying personally, and then it moved onto the Victory Tour. Now don't get me wrong, I completely appreciate how important this half of the book might be to the final book concerning the rebellion and the battle, but I found it very, dry and thought it lacked interest and intrigue. There wasn't even that much covered on the Victory Tour, the focus was near enough stolen by District 11 and from then on it felt like I just got: 'they went there, they went here, wahey, we're home now' and I was really quite bored. However, within this quite mundane and uninteresting section of the book, the character development of Peeta, Gale and Haymitch occurred, and I know I should be supporting Katniss in this series, but really, I can't help but feel that these three are some of the biggest players here. Peeta had the most room to grow and grow he did; he became a solider, training hard, fighting harder, putting on a face for the cameras and always, always considering Katniss and how much she needed that support; that to me doesn't sound like a strong heroine but a strong hero. He was a constant for both Katniss and Haymitch, a voice of the crowd, someone to admire and look up to and to be honest, I would choose Peeta at the drop of a hat, because a guy with that much dedication to others in fighting for what is right and a kind-loving nature needs some happiness. Haymitch, who was one of my favourites out of the The Hunger Games proved his worth once more, putting the teams needs before his own, plotting with and against Katniss and Peeta, but always putting their needs, emotions and turmoil above his own and it was actually quite nice to learn more about him and his Hunger Games with Catching Fire. Even Gale, who I'm not a huge fan of, grew and developed into someone to fear and someone with fire deep down, willing to do anything to protect Katniss and her family, as he proved in the final scenes. Nothing will convince me that Katniss is better than any of these characters.

When we FINALLY got into the arena, you know, the scenes I'd been waiting three quarters of the book for, it was much better, much more interesting and much more dangerous, not to mention much too short. In comparison, The Hunger Games gave me Katniss running, walking, eating and sleeping over a long period of time, Catching Fire gave me 24 victors and killed off two thirds in almost 36 hours. It all too good and all too quick; I wanted to know more about these characters in the arena with Katniss but her reluctance to be close to literally anyone was grating by then and I wanted to see more action spread out over a period of time. Yes, the arena in Catching Fire was much darker, much more violent and a lot more dangerous, but the fact that we never got to find out around 5 of the different 'sections' dangers was damn disappointing, I was actually really interested in seeing what the Gamemakers had come up with that was just as bad as the Jabberjays, the fog and the Monkeys, but nothing could compare to that of the Mutts from The Hunger Games which were so good. I was also not a fan of how quickly the arena vanished in the end and how things abruptly changed and in the final 15 pages is when I came across the realisation that I would never like Katniss in this series and it's when she insulted Haymitch after everything he did for her and other Victors. People who've read the series will know this scene and it really angered me when you come to consider to how much Haymitch lost in his own games, how much he cares for and sees Katniss and Peeta, even Effie as his family and Katniss threw it back in his face. At this point, my hopes of Katniss being bearable once again in Mockingjay were dashed entirely.

When I take away Katniss entirely from this series, the good points are actually really really good, the character development of even the minor characters like her Mother and Prim are impressive, and even the rebellion is clever, well constructed and believable and I actually come to enjoy the series as a whole. The world building continued to be just as good as in the first installment, and the more dangerous games peeked my level of enjoyment and entertainment near the end, however, I'm definitely disappointed when it comes to Peeta's predicament at the end, but I am excited about the news of District 13 and I'm actually interested to see if the lack of arena in the final book will end my relationship with this series positively or not.


  1. A great big YES! to the paragraph about Peeta. :)
    Katniss' reaction to Haymitch was because he broke his promise to her - the promise to save Peeta. It seemed like a very natural reaction to me.

    1. I completely understand that he broke her promise, but he made promises to Peeta too, and I do think it was unreasonable of Katniss to believe that he would save him over her, because she has more to offer to the future of Panem than Peeta does. But I do understand her reaction as a whole :)

  2. If you didn't like this one that much, definitely do NOT read Mockingjay (I have no idea how they're going to turn it into two movies, nothing happened). Katniss is a character I personally like, but she's definitely not everyone's cup of tea :)

    1. I already read Mockingjay and weirdly preferred it to the rest, weird I know! :O
      I also agree though, it's not worth two films at all.

  3. I'm not sure if you'll enjoy Mockingjay because of some twists and turns, or if you'll enjoy the story overall but want to smack Suzanne (like I did), or if you'll end up hating the whole kit n kaboodle. Please read the third book ASAP, I realllllly want to read your review! R x

    1. I've already read Mockingjay, but the review isn't going out until next month I think, maybe a little longer, apologies!
      I do think it'll be worth the wait though, I really preferred it in comparison to the other three!

  4. Brilliant review! Haha, no one could ever convince you that Katniss is better than those characters because she isn't. I think that's why I love her even though she irritates the hell out of me. She knows she's not good enough, not worthy of either guys and not really a nice person when you really look at it. It's exactly why Haymitch tells her she'll never deserve Peeta and she quickly agrees. I kind of love that she's so completely flawed and irritates me so much I want to bitch slap her through the pages.

    I can do nothing but worry about what you will think of Mockingjay. I need to reread that myself because I can't remember much of it now because I kind of blocked it from my memory.

    1. Thank you! I know that's not confident, but I do think her irritation levels were just too high in the first two books. (I did like her more in the final book) Mockingjay review I think will be worth the wait, it'ls nothing like these last two and my feelings might positively surprise you! :)

  5. I can see your point of view. At least, I think, this series doesn't suffer from Sequelitus! Its not one big story arch really and you really do see story progression. I can see why Katniss isn't the most likeable *cough* Peeta is in the book *cough*... OK, if a book boyfriend is in the book, that affects your judgement of the book... or is it just me? XD
    I do think she was rather independent, maybe not everything else though, and its infuriating as people reach out to her, sometimes with good intentions but not always... You just see her trust issues & her flaws are interesting, she's not insanely strong... she's just, less "girly" than what people expect. And Peeta is less masculine. But, eh, he's fab for it. You're right about the solider parts but I think it gets overlooked- I'm somewhat guilty too- by his kindness, baking, painting. Of course, he's part of the revolution too. He's the guy on fire... HELLO, he wore the fire outfits too and he was the one that did the hand-holding thing and d'aww... I'll stop now.
    Why does this affect 99% of people's enjoyment of the book? Hell if I know XD
    I don't see it as intentional teasing, she had so much going on I think she thought it could wait. She clearly liked Peeta more, but... it was difficult as she knew she'd have to make sacrifices. Was she ready? I think not :P
    She is definitely worried about him now- obviously not Haymitch's fault & needs to make sacrifices & sort some stuff out now. Get your bow & arrow, gal.

    BTW, I'm not sure how much of this I've inferred from the book & how much from the movie. Have you watched them? Simply fabulous, I must say. Worth the watch- and Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss is definitely loveable & a great example.
    You've read Mockingjay now, eh? I'll stay tuned :) I liked Mockingjay best too, it does seem a somewhat unpopular opinion though...

    1. I think you've definitely mixed both the book and film but it's okay, because I've read and watched both, so I know where you're coming from! Actually, I'm like you, I preferred Mockingjay too, but you'll have to wait for that review ;)


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