Having been pleasantly surprised by the Hunger Games, I was even more surprised by my desire to return to the world of Panem so quickly after. It was less than a month ago that I read Suzanne Collins first book in the trilogy and normally I wait at least a couple of months before returning to a series. However, I found the lure of how Katniss would respond to her success in the games and the repercussions of her defiance too much to wait any further.
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
I was expecting this book to be about the rebellion against the Capital. It is to a degree but not what I was expecting. To begin with we are shown the immediate fallout of the Hunger Games, how everyone responds to the events that took place and how they reacted to Katniss. Some of the character’s reactions are expected, others are not. What is not expected is how severe the Capital’s response is.
We get to see a lot more of President Snow, who is an excellent character. On one hand, sinister, ruthless and an all round nasty bit of work and on the other (well there isn’t another hand) but we get to see the facade he puts on in front of the cameras as he and Katniss are forced to demonstrate a cordial relationship.
If I’m honest, around a third of the way into the book, I was concerned it was beginning to stagnate. I was unsure as to how Suzanne Collins was going to kick start the next stage of the plot that was desperately needed. I shouldn’t have worried. Without spoiling the book, the event that ignites the action again is very effective and the pace of the novel picks up considerably.
As a result, Catching Fire is similar in many ways to the Hunger Games. However, Suzanne Collins improves on her first effort in many ways. Whereas the first book is about survival, this book is about fighting back and opens up into a wider scale.
Katniss’s character is a bit weaker this time round. It seems she hasn’t really developed from the young girl we saw in the Hunger Games. She is still annoyingly pessimistic and can’t possibly conceive the notion that others may be trying to help her. I found this frustrating. Yes, I can see that the idea is that she should trust no one, but to still question the motives of those that have proved their loyalty over and over was a tad tedious.
The new cast of characters are all good editions, especially, Nuts and Volts, although Finnick is a great edition too. The plot is tight and moves things along nicely. Whilst it might not carry as much on an emotional punch as the first book, Catching Fire is a very good middle book of the trilogy and is used to establish events for the finale.
My rating: 8.5