Saturday, August 4, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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 thought, pacing-wise, that Catching Fire was better than Hunger Games.  If I hadn't been told how good Hunger Games is, I would have stopped reading half-way through the first chapter.  I couldn't get into it. And even once the plot started, I kept wanting to put it down.  I was interested in it enough that I kept reading, but their were a lot of areas where I just put it down and let it sit for a day or two before going back to it.  Also, with Hunger Games I wasn't too worried about completing the series. It was a good book, but not good enough for me to want to spend money on its sequels. I had none of those issues with Catching Fire.

Catching Fire was hard for me to put down.  The pacing was faster.  The stakes higher and I was more invested in the characters, the outcome and the story. Katniss had some tough decisions to make and obviously some of those decisions resulted in devastating consequences.

However, that is not to say Catching Fire is without its flaws. I did find Catching Fire on the predictable side, which ruined some of the story for me. I wish Collins could have left out some of the major clues that let me know how the book would end.  However, I'm not sure how she would have managed to do that.  I also thought this Game Field setup was kind of...meh.  Once the characters figured out what was going on, they had no real problem getting around the Field, which took some of the tension away. Collins did compensate for the lack of physical danger with more emotional danger though. But if the characters hadn't figured out what the arena was and had the emotional danger element to it, I think the book would have been much better.

The ending sucked. It's not because it was a cliffhanger, guaranteeing more people would buy the next book.  But it felt... convenient. Katniss has been threatened by the Capitol, her family has been threatened.  We get warnings of that.  But their didn't seem to be enough of a warning for what happened at the end of the book. I wanted more of a buildup. Perhaps the theory would be raised by one of the characters.  I don't know something more before the event.

The ending worked.  But I felt kind of played at the end of the book.

Pick it up. Read it.  It is the middle-child of books. So it's good. But it's obviously something meant to connect book one to book three with a lot of backtracking and character development, etc. etc.  I mean was the Victory Tour even required? It set some things up beautifully, but other than that set-up it didn't do much. We could have learned about the revolts through characters in the arena, news stories, more threats, etc.

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