Saturday, March 24, 2012

Collins, Suzanne – Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)

To see my review of the first Hunger Games book see:
               I am a bit embarrassed to say that I couldn’t put this young adult novel down. I was very invested in the characters and it was almost painful not to know what was going to happen to them. In this book, Katniss finds herself the unknowing symbol of revolution in a tense and oppressed atmosphere. A trip to a neighboring district (read: colony) during her “Victory Tour” prompts a powerful show of solidarity that is instantly met with repression and bloodshed. Her relationships with Peeta Mellark, her companion at the last Hunger Games, and childhood friend Gale begin to be mature, with heart wrenching consequences.
                Seen as a threat to the all-powerful city-state known as the “Capitol,” President Snow and his cohorts desperately want to kill Katniss, but cannot simply do so because of her popularity with people both in the Capitol and in the outlying districts. They come up with an ingenious plan: force previous victors to fight another Hunger Game.
                This new Hunger Game seemed a bit too contrived for my taste. I felt that Collins thought a book dealing with nothing but Katniss’s personal life would be a letdown after the blood and guts that flew for most of the previous book. To combat this, she forced Katniss to fight again by having the Hunger Game competitors be nothing but previous winners, but despite the fancy new arena and new traps, it seems a bit forced. Collins tries a bit too hard to make the book exciting. The descriptions of deaths are even more gruesome and fearful then that before, and she even has the kids review previous wins for that extra dash of blood.
                That being said, on the whole I did enjoy this book. The arena for this Hunger Game was very interesting and the books ending came as satisfying surprise. The cast of competitors were far more interesting than last time and include a woman who tore a man’s throat out with her teeth, a naked seductress, and two out of their mind drug addicts.
What I continue to enjoy most about the series is Katniss’s continued pragmatism. She doesn’t care to be primped and pampered like the fashionable women of the capital; she just wants to wear what’s convenient. She has romantic feelings, but those come second to her duties to her family and to herself. In this book Katniss becomes even more sophisticated and complex, and the reader really feels that she has emerged from the Hunger Games an adult in a teen’s body.
                Collins also has a gift for creating dynamic characters out of very little. Both Johanna Mason and Finnick Odair show up out of nowhere, become well-fleshed out and have complete 180 degree turns in personality within 150 or so pages. I was particularly fascinated with Finnick, a vain playboy with confusing motives.
                This book is great for teens, fantasy lovers, and anyone with a taste for an adventurous novel. Just make sure you start with Book One, or you will be completely lost. 

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