26 July 2013

Catching Fire

Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #2
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Verdict: Buy

Oh, Katniss, it's good to see you opening your heart.  Sure, you are as jaded and cynical as you were in The Hunger Games, but how can we blame you?  You fought for your life, you watched Rue die, you finally made it out of the arena.  Then you held up a facade, you pretended to love the bread boy when you can't seem to sort out your feelings yourself.  And all for what?  To be thrown right back into the mix with a bunch of older, more experienced veterans?  Yeah, I would hold a grudge too.

What I love most about Catching Fire is that we don't just see Katniss as this girl hell bent on self preservation anymore.  Sure, her world sucks, and yes, she is still doing all she can to survive and protect the ones she loves.  But the fact that she decides she is going to do any and everything within her power to protect Peeta this time around - that trust and that bound she has formed - show us that perhaps she isn't as destined to be alone as she thinks she is.  Granted, the prospects don't look high.  Even with allies this time around, she still has a target that takes up her entire back, put there by the president of the entire country.  But Catching Fire doesn't just give us hope that she will somehow find a way to survive, just as she did the first time around; it gives up hope that perhaps she can see a life after the Games and the rebellion.  Maybe with Peeta, maybe with Gale, maybe with someone else - who the heck knows (ok, I know, but I don't want to spoil it!)?  But she hasn't given into the system yet, and she is starting to see a silver lining, no matter how bleak the circumstances look.  And that just makes me love her even more.  Somehow, it makes her even more BA than before, because it shows an entire new type of rebellion, a new type of hope.

The ending of the book is kind of deflating, since it goes from action packed, and then it kind of stalls, and then it bombs you with a cliffhanger.  Unlike The Hunger Games, it does not draw to a nice conclusion that still leaves it open ended; Catching Fire's ending is completely open ended, making you bang your head against the desk until Mockingjay is available (at least the first time I read it, back in the day).

With just as many heartbreaking and breath stealing moments as The Hunger Games (one word - Cinna), it does not disappoint, and it sets up for one hell of a final ride in Mockingjay.

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