Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I may not have mentioned this in my review for the first Hunger Games book, but I really wavered when deciding if I wanted to include this series on my blog or not. While the books are riveting, the whole plot is obviously quite disturbing... but due to the wild popularity of the series, I finally decided I might as well include it here since it's already everywhere else. Anyway, here's my take on the 2nd book in the trilogy:

Book Cover and Synopsis:
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 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.

My Thoughts: 
Catching Fire does not disappoint! I was unsure where the story would be able to go with the Games finished and Katniss back in safe territory, but I was happy to discover that the plot moved briskly along with the same sense of urgency that was present in the first book. The Capitol City's grip on Katniss and Peeta is stronger than its ever been before. They've become celebrities, and President Snow, leader of Panem, seeks to control their actions (thereby controlling the public perception of them) by threatening their friends and family if they don't comply.

Ever since the Games ended, Katniss has been feeling strain on her relationships with Peeta and Gale. Things with Gale haven't been the same since her return from the Games, and Peeta has been distant since he discovered her romantic actions in the arena were simply strategical. Katniss cares for them both but is confused about her feelings, feeling pulled between both guys. One thing she knows for sure, is that she doesn't want a relationship that will lead to marriage and ultimately bringing kids into the twisted society of her world. I really felt for Katniss in her situation, both guys are so nice, and the history she has with each is undeniable. Like Katniss, I simply couldn't choose a side; I ended up wavered back and forth about the guys right along with Katniss! I eventually did choose the guy that I think she should ultimately end up with, however with the uncertainty of the future in their world, I wonder if they will actually survive to see a somewhat happy (is that even possible in their world!?) ending.

At about the half-way point I came across the biggest twist I-never-saw-coming (I'm talking HUGE!), leaving me speechless and completely unsure of what to expect. There's not much more I can say while keeping things spoiler-free, but let's just say there seems no end to what these characters have to endure. Yes, the twist was amazing and completely unexpected, but I really felt sorry for all the people it effected. 

The characters and their bonds are a huge part of this series, they just pull you in, feeling like you've known them for years. Katniss almost always has some kind of a threat hanging over her head, whether on herself or those she loves, but somehow she always manages to persevere. And Peeta, oh Peeta, I feel so sorry for him at times. He has such a sweet and gentle side, and his devotion to Katniss is unwavering, even when she doesn't return his affection. Their future is so often unsure, I just hated the thought of either one being harmed. The constant threat on their lives, and even their district, brings such a sense of urgency to the story that it's really hard to break away from reading. 

At this point I'm two-third's of the way finished with the series, and things are just as fresh as ever. Yes, the plot is undeniably disturbing, and the actions of the Capitol and those in charge are despicable, but the light in the darkness is Katniss and her friends. They're forced to do some horrible things, but they don't lose sight of the fact that it's wrong. They long for a change in their country's structure, impossible though it may seem. At this point change is certainly in the air, but how much change can actually occur in such a warped society remains to be seen.

My Rating: 5 stars 

Note: As I mentioned in my review for the first book, my rating of 5 stars is based on my enjoyment of the story and isn't necessarily an endorsement or recommendation. I realize the nature of the plot is touchy, so please use your own discretion when deciding if The Hunger Games is appropriate for you or your children.

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