Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2009

Format? Hardback
Why?  Because.  No, really, my firstborn said, "Mom, have you still not read Catching Fire and Mockingjay??  
What Now?  The books belong to my firstborn so they'll be keepers on her shelf.  She's already told me I won't like the next one, so I'm a little nervous.

Golden Lines

"I didn't mean to start any uprisings." I tell him.
"I believe you.  It doesn't matter.  Your stylist turned out to be prophetic in his wardrobe choice.  Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire, you have produced a spark that, left unattended, may grow to an inferno that destroys Panem," he says.

The smell of was on his breath.
What does he do?  I think.  Drink it?  I imagine him sipping it from a teacup.  Dipping a cookie into the stuff and pulling it out dripping red.

While they try to predict what dishes will be served, I keep seeing the old man's head being blown off.

"Yeah, I guess so," I said.  But it's not true.  A mockingbird is just a songbird.  A mockingjay is a creature the Capitol never intended to exist.  They hadn't counted on the highly controlled jabberjay having the brains to adapt to the wild, to pass on its genetic code, to thrive in a new form.  They hadn't imagined its will to live.

The idea of being strong for someone else having never entered their heads, I find myself in the position of having to console them.  Since I'm the person going in to be slaughtered, this is somewhat annoying.

Because this is so repellent to think about, my mind frantically tries to change topics.  But the only thing that distracts me from my current situation is fantasizing about killing President Snow.  Not very pretty daydreams for a seventeen-year-old girl, I guess, but very satisfying.

I can hear him weeping but I don't care.  They probably won't even bother to question her, she's so far gone.  Gone right off the deep end years ago in her Games.  There's a good chance I'm headed in the same direction.  Maybe I'm already going crazy and no one has the heart to tell me.  I feel crazy enough.  


After the Hunger Games, Katniss is home with her family awaiting the start of the Victory Tour.  Life should be great; she and Peeta are celebrities as 1st time double victors of the games, and their families have plenty of food to eat and money to spend as does Haymitch, their mentor.  But, Katniss must continue the facade of loving Peeta so much that their almost Romeo and Juliet type ending to the games was because of temporary lovesick insanity rather than a rebellious act.  This situation doesn't suit well with Gale or Katniss or for that matter, Peeta.  Katniss thinks they've pulled it off until President Snow visits her home and tells her that she will pay for inciting unrest...and she will pay dearly.  Katniss desperately vows to do what she can to change the mindset of the people in the other Districts in order to keep her family alive.  
The Victory Tour doesn't turn out quite like Katniss hoped, and unrest is fueled rather than squenched.  Even an honest, emotional, unplanned act by Peeta does not convince President Snow that Katniss is a law abiding citizen of the Capitol.  Using the 2nd Quarter Quell (50 years of the games) as his cover, President Snow announces the new rules of the games, and Katniss's punishments begin.

What I Liked

Peeta - yep, Peeta.  I was a Gale girl in book #1, but I changed my mind in book #2.  Peeta loves Katniss unconditionally...he's even willing to give his life for hers, accepting that she may never return his love.  Peeta also seems to have a little more of a realistic eye...he sees the big picture, the future, what's best for all instead of just what's best (or what he wants) for himself.

Cinna and his costumes - I'm constantly wondering what he'll come up with next.  When the wedding dress costume is unveiled for what it really is, I was immediately overcome with grief bc I knew without a doubt what message was being sent by whom and what the consequences would be.  My firstborn told me she was sobbing when these particular consequences were carried out.  I was blown away but not shocked at the same time.  I felt a growing sense of acquiescence as the story went on...but I think that's what the author had in mind.

Katniss's mom and her healing touch.  I didn't have much sympathy for this character in book #1...I wanted her to get up and go on with her life.  Well, she has.  I love the way she morphs into her zone when wounded appear...her intelligence, her ability to make what's necessary out of whatever supplies she has and  her natural surroundings, her level headedness...these are characteristics of her that, in fact, the reader only sees when she's using her healing gifts.

Mags - oh Mags.  I love you.  When I'm an old grandma person, I want to be like you.  Kisses. That's all. 

What I Didn't Like

Katniss - I can't believe I'm saying this, but GOSH, she started getting on my nerves.  What a whiner.  Yes, I know she's only 17, but really??  

The violence - the level of violence is ratcheted up in Catching Fire, but not in a glorified way.  I think the reader needs to see the intensity of the situation to feel the helplessness that any of these characters must be experiencing as they all prepare to offer their lives in order for others to live.  

President Snow - duh, right?  I swear he reminds me of Hitler.  The evil, the violence, the evil, the hate, the shock, the evil...have I mentioned the evil?

Overall Recommendation

If you've read the first one, go ahead and read this one.  I was expecting a more negative reaction from myself because of what others have told me and almost didn't read this one.  I'm glad I did.


  1. I liked the games concept in the second book more than in the first one, but I seem to be in the minority there. Glad you enjoyed this series! Makes you crave more HG-type books right?

    1. I don't read a lot of YA...only the stuff my oldest daughter gives me and tells me I have to :) I used to read a lot more of it, especially when I taught a Teaching with YA class, but it seemed after a while that all the books started sounding alike. I got a little bored and wished for the authors to branch out a little. That may be why I liked Hunger Games so much...I haven't been reading a lot of other YA dystopian stuff to compare it to.

  2. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games, but books 2 and especially 3 fell flat for me. I think because I read them one right after the other? I should have waited a bit in between!

    1. Also, if you like this series, you might really enjoy "Divergent" by Veronica Roth. I listened to that one on audio and really enjoyed it.

    2. I read The Hunger Games almost a year ago :/ Maybe that helped me enjoy the last 2 a little more. But I really liked them :)

    3. I think it was Aths who reviewed Divergent yesterday...I'll have to look that one up! Finished my first Stephen King last night...his memoir about writing...I think I'm gonna go ahead and tackle The Stand in the readalong. :)

  3. I really liked this whole series and it is one of the few books that me and my kids have all read and liked.

    1. My oldest daughter is the one who picks my YA's for me...she reads like I do and she culls the others and passes off the best of the best :) She really liked this series too...we had fun talking about it :)

  4. I liked this book a lot, but felt that it didn't compare to the incredible love I had for the first book. As a whole, the series was up and down for me, but I am still excited that people are reading and loving it. Wonderful review today!

    1. After I read the first one, I got busy and just let time get away with me. Then, I kept hearing review after review saying the other two weren't as good as the first. Even my oldest daughter said so. I almost didn't read them. I'm guessing the time between the first book and the other two is what gave me a little bit different perspective for the books. I'm also coming off a disappointing semester where I worked with groups of young adults who think that history is boring and nothing like the Holocaust or Civil War could/would ever happen again :/ I hope they're right. I've not read a lot of YA lately either so I don't have a lot to compare the Hunger Games trilogy with. I too am glad we're all talking about it :)

  5. The kids and I listened to the entire trilogy on audio, and we liked this one. Not quite as much as the first, but that is what you would expect I guess. But your daughter is are not going to like the last one. It was everything we could do to get through it. But you have to, because why even start a trilogy if you aren't going to finish it.

    1. I'm actually already done with Mockingjay too, Sandy...and I liked it :/ I guess I'm just weird here...the one thing that did get on my nerves was Katniss's whining. I could've slapped her around quite a bit :p

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