Thursday, 29 July 2010

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, dystopia
Description: (From Goodreads) Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.


Oh, man, where to begin? The cliffhanger at the end of this book really made me want to scream.

I know that some people think using a cliffhanger is “cheating,” or lazy writing, or just some kind of marketing ploy. Some people may think that the payoff is never worth all of the angst/tension a cliffhanger might cause, or that a cliffhanger is somehow tantamount to a betrayal of trust by the author just to keep readers hooked. Overall, I don’t mind them. In a scenario like this, where I know that these books are intended as part of a collective trilogy, I expect that everything won’t be resolved and tied up with a pretty pink bow until the series finale. For me, in this situation, I think it adds to the suspense and the anticipation of the upcoming book.

Do I think cliffhangers work as well in a longer series, particularly a series that isn’t necessarily a continuation of sequential events, or a series in which the time gap between book releases is more than a year? Not really. We are a society accustomed to instant gratification. I consider myself to be a fairly patient person, but if I have to wait too long for something, there are times when even I will lose interest and move onto something else. Because of this I’m glad that I just read “Catching Fire” this month so that my wait for the final book is only a few weeks.
Going back to my feelings about this book, it’s a close call, but I think I did like “The Hunger Games” better. Still, this is best children/YA series I’ve read since Harry Potter and it has become one of my favorite book series in general.

I think Suzanne Collins has such a captivating writing style. It literally sucks me in to the point where, especially in the first book, it felt like I was experiencing Katniss’s emotions right along with her. I haven’t had a reaction like that to very many books and I think it’s a sign of Collins’s talent as an author. I’m eagerly awaiting “Mockingjay.” I want to see how everything gets resolved. As far as the love triangle goes, my feet are firmly planted in the Peeta camp and I hope she chooses him. No offense to the Gale lovers out there, because it’s not that I dislike him or anything, but we’ve just gotten to see so much more of Peeta and gotten to know him to the point where I feel for him so much and I want him to be happy in the end. Many a tear will be shed if something happens to him in the final book. I might go as far as to say that a good portion of my enjoyment of the series overall will hinge on his fate.

I’m not even going to go into what this book is about because you can read the description - and other reviews - for that and I want to keep this review spoiler-free. I will say that my one issue was that the pacing in the beginning was a bit slow, but it all picked up and the book kept me consistently entertained. I’m invested in the characters and the story and I wish I had “Mockingjay” in my greedy little hands even as I type this. But, of course, if I had it, this review might never have been written at all because I’d be too busy reading.

If you haven’t read this series yet, give it a shot! Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s YA, or by the subject matter, or because it’s “popular.” A truly good novel (or series) rises above the limitations of its genre. I think this series is one in which everyone can find something to enjoy. If you have any doubt as to whether or not this series is worthy of all the adulation it’s received, you really should read it and find out for yourself.

Content Description

Sex and nudity - No sex. Possible mention of nudity, but nothing graphic.
Violence and gore - Mild. Nowhere near the amount of the first one, but there are mentions of characters dying, being whipped, and a description of a man being shot execution-style.
Alcohol and drugs - The main character does drink in one scene and suffers the aftereffects. One of the other characters is an alcoholic and drinks regularly. Drugs mentioned only in a medical context.
Profanity - Little to none.
Frightening/intense scenes - Again, the concept of children forced to fight to the death can be disturbing for some readers.