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Cannonball Read IV: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

By llp | Book Reviews | October 3, 2012 | Comments ()


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The second book in a trilogy can be a difficult thing to enjoy, I think, and I am sure it is a challenge to write. When you begin an exciting story, readers are always eager to know how it ends, and the author must have to struggle with writing a satisfying story on its own merits, along with something that leaves the reader hanging for the last book. I think that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy was successful in bridging the first and third novels, and in terms of movies The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight were as well. The Song of Ice and Fire series are not as successful for me, as I have discussed previously - while I am desperate to know how the story ends, the middle books sometimes feel disconnected and unsatisfying. Suzanne Collins is successful with Catching Fire, I think. It is a well written, self contained story in its own right, with great development of the characters and a cliffhanger ending. I am glad I picked these up as a group, and did not read them as they were published, because it has a very emotionally fraught ending.

This book picks up a few month after the Hunger Games have ended, and both Peeta and Katniss are having trouble adjusting to their new circumstances - new homes, newly awkward relationships, and the threat that President Snow presents. Much of the beginning of the book refreshes the reader on what has occurred in the prior book and demonstrates how isolated how the victors, Katniss in particular, has become. This portion of the book is a bit slower than both The Hunger Games and the second part of this book are, but it is important because it demonstrates how Katniss has changed as a character and introduces the reader to the wider political struggle the Hunger Games and it's most recent victors as political liabilities. The reader is made more familiar with other districts in Panem, and is shown more of the Capitol and its residents, which serves as a rich backdrop for the 75th Annual Hunger Games that makes up the last half of the book.

Catching Fire is a good middle book for an exciting trilogy - the characters change and are are made more familiar to the reader, it refers back to the first story while being exciting all on its own, and ends on a many layered cliffhanger. It certainly left me desperate for the last in the series.

For more of llp's reviews, check out her blog, gentlyfalling.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)



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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • Honestly, I didn't care for Catching Fire. I think the first half is great. The second half is so overblown with foreshadowing and repeated, non-evolving imagery that I just wanted it to end so Collins could get back to character development. Then again, I only wanted her to get back to character development because Katniss suddenly loses any critical thinking skills and turned into a lovesick puppy.

    It's YA lit, so I expect some of the literary tactics to be heavy-handed. Catching Fire splits its time between assuming the best and the worst of a younger reader. The first half is so well-done that the constant deluge of foreshadowing with no variation is almost insulting in the second half.

  • llp

    Interesting - I don't recall that. I remember the Quarter Quell section feeling a bit rushed, but that is about it.

  • The Quarter Quell didn't bother me. There's an element of shock and familiarity that I thought was intriguing. The pace wouldn't bother me, either, if it didn't repeat itself so much in the second half.

    I don't want to spoil the book for those who haven't read it, but there are descriptions and certain key phrase that get repeated for a good 70 pages before anything changes. It's all to set up the machination of the game in the arena that is painfully obvious the first time Katniss stops to parse everything out without any self-realization. I read on, hoping that Collins wouldn't make things that obvious, but it was. Then she recaps why it was that way for most of a chapter before anything new happens.

  • llp

    I'll have to pull that book out tonight and take another look at it.

  • KatSings

    This is actually my favorite of the three.

  • Same here. It's the rare sequel that I enjoyed more than the first.

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