BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

If you’re new here, where have you been?!  You’re missing all the fun! 😉

Check out my review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Now, I’d like to talk about the second book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Later, I’ll discuss The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

To whoever gave me this box set, thank you!  Again, I’m sorry I can’t remember who you are!

I have a lot of opinions, so there are spoilers.  We gotta take the good with the bad.

Read more: BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games captured my imagination and, despite initial resistance, I liked it.  Unfortunately, the sequel killed some of that enthusiasm. 

I feel like the author wanted to create a realistic and plausible uprising, covered by a fictional story.  But she pushed too hard and cracks started to show.

Quick recap: We return to District 12 to find Katniss Everdeen in very different circumstances, but much the same lifestyle. 

Peeta and Kat won the Hunger Games.  They now live near Haymitch in the lavish homes in lonely Victors’ Village.  They will never have to worry about food or heat.

Katniss is clearly dissatisfied with the lap of luxury.  Her Mother and sister, Prim, live in the new home.  She lives alone in their former hovel. 

She also continues hunting.  In part, it’s because her own emotional issues require the time alone.  It also keeps her archery skill honed.  Whatever she catches, she uses help Gale and his family.  It’s clear he’s too proud to take much help, but is grateful for the food.

Fewer than 20 pages in, I noted that Collins writes Katniss and Gale have “olive skin and dark hair.”  The first book had a similar description, but it seemed inconsequential.  Seeing it again, I paid more attention.

(I didn’t follow the series at the height of its popularity.  Still, if I remember correctly, people brought it up.) 

I think some authors use such phrases to mean, “racially ambiguous enough to be non-threatening and/or passing for white.”  Maybe this means the text appeals to more readers, who can now see themselves in the characters.  Or allows visual mediums to use a more diverse cast, like in movies or the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage production?

(CAVEAT:  These race-based opinions are brought to you by someone who most people consider “White.”  Some Uber-Third-Reich-level racists, however, do lump “Jews” in with “non-Whites.”  So, take what I say with a grain of salt.  And some tequila.)

I even made a note, a few pages after the “olive” comment, when President Snow appears (uninvited) in Katniss’s new house.  I wrote, “Whitey McWhite.” 

As readers, we want the reality woven into dystopian stories to be underlying and subtle.  As such, maybe the character’s name is too obvious?

To me, it is.  So is the timing with which Snow makes his threats.  He insists she play up her dramatic relationship with Peeta, claiming she can’t keep anything from him.  If she doesn’t obey, he’ll kill her loved ones.

President Snow, specifically, demands she doesn’t do anything that makes the citizens unruly.  She must act happy and supportive of the Capitol on the victors’ upcoming Panem-wide tour.

The Hunger Games explained the people of Panem have little contact with one another.  As in most authoritarian governments, President Snow limits communication and the information citizens receive.

The ONLY opportunity someone would have to stoke dissent in other districts would be such a tour.  On the tour, Katniss saw and heard about citizens rebelling.  She learns the Mockingjay pin she wore in the arena has become a symbol.  Because Snow mentioned it, she paid more attention to acts of civil disobedience and discovered her allies.

If I’m being honest and professional, I’d saying Catching Fire “belabored the point” several times.  If I were just being honest, I might say there were times it was “assaulting a deceased equine.”

For pages, in different scenes, Katniss’s inner monologue goes on about how torn she feels.  She can’t decide who she can trust – and burden with – what President Snow said to her. 

To be blunt, the back-and-forth about which boy she wants becomes asinine.  On page 152, Collins writes that she thinks, “I can’t think about kissing when I’ve got a rebellion to incite.” 🤦

The “Quarterly Quell” reveals the emotional scarring victors of the Hunger Games suffer.  The deeper I got into the book, the more it seemed necessary for the characters to return to arena.  It’s the only way to show it’s possible to beat the systems of power. 

Of course, President Snow probably thinks it’s an easy way for the “uppity” victors – including Peeta and Haymitch – to get killed.  The president could kill them, or have them killed, like he did to the previous Gamemaker. 

But, he wants their story – with a fake marriage and pregnancy hype – and death to be a spectacle.  He wants the others to see their leaders die.  Preferably in a horrific manner.

It felt like there was a lot of deliberation and inner monologue in this book.  An attempt to build up all the emotions to peak at the return to the arena.  Again, it dragged. 

Eventually, they return to fight the Quarterly Quell.  By this point, after all the emotional turmoil and characters crises, I was ready for action!

Luckily, it wasn’t a disappointment.  Collins describes the arena with the amazing imagery she creates.  The new arena is, itself, an enemy.  Not only that, but the Gamemakers change tactics to keep them at a disadvantage. 

After lots of bloody twists and turns, Katniss’s escape from the arena is a bit of a let-down.  The end of the book felt abrupt.  We’re with a lot of questions.

Final Score:

3 out of 5 stars!

I love the stories, plot twists, arcs, and settings Suzanne Collins creates in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  I’d love to give the book a higher score.

The truth is, this book drags on with pages of love triangle whingeing.  In the end, it seems she chose to be a martyr.  She planned to sacrifice herself in the arena to save Peeta and Haymitch.

Now, I need to know what you thought of this book!  Is there somewhere you think I’m barking up the wrong tree?


2 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

  1. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins | Writing Radiation

  2. Pingback: BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins | Writing Radiation

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