Series: The Hunger Games #2
Published: 2009 by Scholastic
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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This is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I read it immediately after finishing “The Hunger Games,” because quite frankly, the first book doesn’t really end. I’m going to do my best to review the book without providing major spoilers from the first one, even though it means that my review might be a bit more vague than I would like.
During “The Hunger Games,” Katniss performs a gesture that is interpreted by dissidents within the twelve Districts as a revolutionary action, as it symbolically frees her from the Capitol’s power. She didn’t intend for it to have major ramifications, but rather viewed it as a way out of doing something she didn’t find to be morally acceptable.
“Catching Fire” begins as the ever-so-creepy President Snow, who reminds me a bit of a bloodsucking vampire, shows up at Katniss’ door, warning her to behave herself and to conform to the Capitol’s idea of a victor. He threatens her family, knowing fully well that Katniss has become the unofficial symbol of the revolution. Meanwhile, the 75th Hunger Games are about to begin, and since it’s on a 25-year mark, the games operate by different (and more sadistic) rules.
One thing that I noticed is that this book had much better editing than the first one. It makes me think that the editors were a bit lazy until they realized that “The Hunger Games” was a hit, and then they finally got their act together. It’s definitely a good thing that they did, but I still wish that they’d have gotten it right in the first book too.
In this book, I got a bit annoyed with the way that Katniss tended to flip-flop between liking Gale and liking Peeta more. On one hand, I realize that she does genuinely like both of them, but it seems to me that she’s leading both of them on until she makes up her mind, even if she doesn’t intend to, and it is basically a lot of teenage drama. At the same time, this book is written for a young adult audience, so I try to overlook it.
This book made me appreciate Haymitch a lot more. In the first book, he’s portrayed as a continuously drunken alcoholic who is there mostly for comic relief. In “Catching Fire,” he starts to rise above that role, and we begin to understand that he drinks to drown the memories of competing in and winning the Hunger Games and his self-hatred for being a tool of the Capitol. His interactions with Katniss and Peeta have inspired him to take action, and he becomes increasingly important in this book and the next..
Despite the relationship drama, I did like this book a lot better than the first one. Revolutions against tyranny tend to make good stories, and as with “The Hunger Games,” I couldn’t put this book down. “Catching Fire” doesn’t really end, which is why I recommend reading the trilogy on a weekend or even a long weekend so that you don’t end up pulling an all-nighter and then being exhausted and mildly incoherent at work the next day.