Book Review: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
As you may have noticed in the review immediately preceding this one, I bought this book in the emotional wake of having finished book one, The Hunger Games, of this series. I liked Catching Fire too, though not as much as the first one. The first one has such a great pace, I think a sequel would have had to be unfathomably mind-blowing to be better, much less “as good.” So, with that in mind, I definitely recommend this one to anyone who liked book one and is wondering if book two is worth it. It is.
Book two, in brief summary, super brief because I don’t want to do any spoilers (or at least hardly any, and not even for book one), is the continuation of the adventures of Katniss and Peeta from where things turned out at the end of The Hunger Games (sort of “duh” I know). The issues that arose with President Snow and the government begin to come to a head as the murmurs of rebellion begin to grow louder in the 12 districts of Panem, and some people in them even try to take actions against Capitol. In response, the villainous President Snow has a nefarious plan in store for our heroes as he means to use them to stop the rebellion that he blames them for. Fun reading ensues.
Like the first one, this book is primarily targeted to teens in its language and tone, but it is perfectly enjoyable for readers of any age as a good story is a good story, regardless of its original target audience (well, almost regardless, I’m not sure that works in reverse, taking, say, 50 Shades of Gray to the junior high is probably a terrible idea).
Any more than that much summary and whatnot might ruin it for someone, so that’s all you get.
The book as a whole is really enjoyable, but for me, only after about the 30% or so mark does that really kick in. The first part of the book was too much teen-angst and rated-G romance for my taste. I actually started to worry about 20% in that Collins had followed up her awesome gladiator story of a first book with a Twilight book sans vampires and werewolves for the second, and I found myself wishing both Peeta and Gale would tell Katniss to F—off. However, I realize zillions of readers gobble that wishy-washy stuff up, so, for those folks, you will be happy with the first quarter to third of the book. For the stuffy old, beer-swilling middle-aged bastards like me, I will say this: stick it out; it’s totally worth it once you get past that part. Once Collins is done setting up what I fear may be the romantic resolution to come in the third book—Please God, No! (And no, I haven’t read the description for book three yet, because I didn’t want it to influence this review)—that’s when she launches this book into the sort of thing that was so freaking cool about book one. That’s the part that makes Catching Fire so fun for a science fiction and fantasy novel reader like me. It is a little familiar in parts, and perhaps slightly more contrived, but I think that may be related to that thing I mentioned at first, about how hard it would be to follow up a book as rock-awesome as The Hunger Games is.
Bottom line is I totally recommend this book. It’s a fun, light, enjoyable read and a great follow up to the first one in the series.