Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Catching Fire

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games (#2)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 
 September 1, 2009
Reviewer: Ethan

Review: I was a bit skeptical as I began reading The Hunger Games, earlier this year. The hype of The Hunger Games had reached a high, and I couldn't help but see what all the fuss was about. I quickly read the first novel and was pleasantly surprised. Upon completion, I decided that the novel was an entertaining way to comment on social and cultural topics. I did feel that there was room for improvement, but was invested enough to continue with the sequel, Catching Fire.

The novel finds Katniss adjusting to life as a victor of The Hunger Games. For those unfamiliar with the games, it is an annual event in which each of the twelve districts of Panem, a distopian version of the US, send a boy and a girl to fight to the death in commemoration of the historic revolution. The people of Katniss's home district 12 are used to working hard to barely stay afloat. As the victor of the games, however, Katniss has a new home and more money that she is accustom to. Despite this, she longs for her life before the games.

Her victory was unconventional, to say the least. For the first time in the history of the games, Katniss was not the sole victor. After a strange turn of events that saw her acting like she fell in love with Peeta, the boy competing from district 12, the pair both were named victors and given all of the perks that come with the title. But with this unconventional victory came many unforeseen consequences. While Katniss only acted like she loved Peeta, for the sake of the games, Peeta truly fell in love with Katniss. Still, Katniss's heart belongs to her best friend and hunting partner, Gale. On a larger level, Katniss's victory was perceived as an act of defiance against the Capitol, and threatens to spark a whole new revolution. Now Katniss must try to mend her personal life while convincing the president and citizens of Panem that she never intended to cause problems.

This novel was quite an improvement over the first novel. With all of the backstory and history fully established, Collins was able to devote more time to discovering the emotional layers of each character, even those that initially seemed to be only supporting roles. There is a political thriller permeating the young adult/fantasy exterior of this novel, that allows for quick pacing and darker undertones. Without giving away the story, there were several strong twists that I genuinely didn't see coming. Towards the end, the novel teetered on the edge of predictability, but managed to provide a satisfying ending that promises for an exciting conclusion to the trilogy.

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