Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Green)

The second book or movie in a trilogy is usually the weakest of the three.  This is true for almost every trilogy except for the original Star Wars, where Empire Strikes Back is the best of all the movies.  After a perfectly average opening to The Hunger Games I wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of the rest of the series.  The only reason I kept reading was because I bought a kindle.  This book was only seven bucks and near the top of the list in the kindle store so I figured “why not.”

Now I can think of two trilogies where the second book is the best of the series, Star Wars and The Hunger Games.

Catching Fire kind of cheats though because it has two climaxes.  For some reason that escapes me, the book one climax is in the beginning of book two.  The book one climax occurs when Snow is talking to Katniss in her new house.  It’s a solid scene and made me excited to read the rest of the book.  It’s the scene that needed to end off the first book so that I would have been more eager to read the rest of these kid killing stories.

The plot of the second book starts out with Katniss and Peeta (still the worst character names of all time, especially Pita Pit Peeta as I call him) going around to all the districts on a victory tour after winning the Hunger Games.  I loved where it was going with this.  They started at district 11 and what happened there was the most solid story telling in the trilogy. The only other comparable scene was at the beginning of this book with Katniss and Snow.  If this is what happened at the first district then I couldn’t wait to see what happened in the other districts.  Too bad they don’t really talk about it too much.  Everything gets skimmed over.

This is the beginning of a trend that plagues the rest of the books.  Skimming.  Instead of saying what goes on she just sums things up so that you know all the important parts and she can spend some unnecessary time trying to make me care if Katniss ends up with Peeta or the other guy.  I’m sure he has a name but his role in the books is “the other guy.”  The skimming isn’t as bad in Catching Fire but in the third book it is beyond an acceptable level.

Despite this there are still lots of things to love about this book.  Of course Katniss and Peeta end up back in the games fighting for their lives.  I knew this would happen before I read the book.  It’s on the back cover isn’t it?  So I wasn’t excited because I wasn’t sure how the stakes could be raised any higher than they were the first time.

The author was able to do that by, surprise surprise, being creative with the arena the game was being played in.  The arena was amazingly entertaining compared to the first book where the location barely had a factor in how the game was played.

She also raised the stakes by complicating the relationships between the people playing the game.  Using the old victors as the tributes raised the stakes because they all knew each other and some were even good friends, but the added factor was that some of them weren’t playing the game the way the Capital thought they were playing.  It’s all a little complicated.  I don’t expect you to understand what’s going on.  The protagonist doesn’t even understand what’s going on half the time.

I love the very last line of the book. It sets up a massive cliff hanger which was absolutely perfect and ended the book on just the right level of hopelessness that the second part of any three part story needs.

The Hunger Games in Catching Fire are the best of the series.  The climax at the end of the book is the best of the series.  The characters are the least annoying in this book.  The settings are the most interesting, and finally, and most importantly the story is the most entertaining.

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One Response to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Green)

  1. Pingback: Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins (Red) | Chortle at My Girth

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