[To see an updated review of when I re-read it in 2013 before the release of the films click here.]
Similar to The Hunger Games, I pretty much read this in one sitting. I hadn’t planned on reading it for at least 24 hours after I’d finished Volume I, but I just couldn’t keep myself away.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN The Hunger Games DON’T READ AFTER THIS POINT!
Catching Fire picks up approximately six months after the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games. We check in with Katniss, Peeta and everyone in District 12 prior to Katniss and Peeta’s champion tour (yes they both one, with the threat of a double suicide, the gamemakers had no choice but to crown them both champions.
As the first chapter ends, the impact of Katniss and Peeta’s actions at the end of the games comes to light with a visit from the President who makes threats against Gale, Katniss’ love interest, and hers and Peeta’s families. It is from this point on where you not only realize how young Katniss is, but also how much she has on her shoulders.
Katniss attempt to avert any future problems, but can’t and in essence all hell breaks loose. There are revolts in some of the districts, a much harsher head of the local Peacekeepers who tortures people and burns down the black market, and ultimately culminates in the announcement that the Hunger Games (a Quarter Quell – 25 year anniversary) will be fought be a male and female victor of the games, once again guaranteeing that Katniss will be back in the arena as she is the only female victor from District 12. With all of this, on top of the conspiracy Katniss now believes about a surviving District 13, we once again find ourselves in the arena with Katniss, Peeta and a host of other characters. Ms. Collins must have a streak of sadism or an incredibly active imagination, or just an extreme empathy with the world, because this arena is hauntingly disturbing and left me feeling somewhat icy. The ingenuity of the arena and it’s incredibly terrifying inhabitants/obstacles, this is a brilliant setting borrowing from all of the greats.
I wont’ say what happens at the end of the book, but suffice to say it’s dramatic and fascinating and sets very high expectations for Mockingjay. It was somewhat expected after the few clues, but at the same time was delicately handled and interestingly crafted so that I had to think back to a couple of the clues earlier in the book and appreciated the symmetry.
We meet all sorts of interesting minor characters throughout this novel and although Collins does a great job as she did with The Hunger Games, many of the minor characters don’t fully get a chance to develop. I’m not sure if this is due to the limitations of the novel itself or editor limitations, but it was a bit of a disappointment. I can’t say for certain as I am just now reading the novels, but I feel almost as if she faced pressure to release the second novel after the first one’s success and faced a bit of a Goblet of Fire problem where Rowling wrote the book very hurriedly and it had so much potential as a story, but was ultimately disjointed and over saturated with information that wasn’t put in it’s best light.
Once I’m moved in to my new place (ALMOST finished!) and had a bit of a breather I’m sure I will devour Mockingjay and have that review up. I just received in the mail Dan Savage’s The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant for September book group. Looks hilariously brilliant from the few bits I’ve read through. Watch out for that review as well!