Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Hunger Games : #2 Catching Fire

Onto the next book in the hunger games triology, CATCHING FIRE, there would only be one thing on your minds “the capitol or specifically president snow can’t be any more twisted than this”.
Here is how the summary of the book goes by -
 ”Against all odds Katniss has won the hunger games. She and her fellow tribute from district 12 Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all she has returned to her family and her long time friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create. Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she can’t stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, then the consequences will be very high.“   
Let me now put forward a point that is very common with triologies……… that damn book in the middle! You know how it goes - the first book is dynamite, because it’s all new and there’s so much to discover…so much to learn about. The last book is explosive too, since we find out what happens “in the end.” But the book in the middle … well, it’s sorta like treading water. It’s a place holder, filler maybe, a way to stall the reader until the good stuff can start. 
Hunger Games was exiting and compelling; we found out about Katniss’s world slowly, which drew us into it completely. My guess is, the final book will be equally engaging - after all, we’ll learn all about District 13, we’ll find out which of her two suitors Katniss will finally choose, and we’ll get a glimpse of what lies in store for the Capitol and its totalitarian government. But Catching Fire is not exactly summed up as a disappointment but something like a so-so plot. Nothing much happens. The plot can be summed up very succinctly - unrest grows slowly in the aftermath of Katniss and Peeta’s Hunger Games victory. That’s just about it. Katniss can’t make her mind up about Peeta and Gale, she can’t make her mind up about whether or not to rebel, and she can’t make her mind up about who to really trust. In the end, not only is there no resolution, but little progress is made toward one. 
The story picks up a few months after the end of The Hunger Games just before Katniss and Peeta are meant to begin their tour of the Districts as champions. From there things only go from bad to worse as Katniss’ actions during the Hunger Games come back to bite her right in the ass thus endangering everyone and everything she holds dear. Saying too much more about it would spoil the ride and, believe me, you’ll have a lot more fun with the book the less you know going in. 
Katniss’ bold move at the end of THE HUNGER GAMES has put her and everyone she loves in a dangerous situation. Witnessing Katniss and Peeta’s defiance has sparked rebellion in some of the districts and the President of Panem is not happy. He makes it clear that it is Katniss’ responsibility to put a stop to the unrest in the districts by proving her defiance was a result of her love for Peeta and not done to overthrow the government.
I loved the introduction of the new characters/ fellow Hunger Games competitors, Finnick, the overly dramatic/ overly gorgeous male who knows he is super gorgeous and flaunts it whenever possible, yet who has an extremely serious side as he is willing to risk life and limb to keep Katniss and Peeta alive, and Mags, an elderly woman who no one, save for Finnick, can understand and who also is more than willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, and Beetee and Wiress, the super geeky, yet extremely intelligent competitors (who I believe would have won the Hunger Games hands-down had the games went on as originally planned)… Heck, I even didn’t mind Johanna, who in real life I would consider to be a gigantic bimbo. But I also loved the old characters, such as Haymitch, as we saw a completely new side of him, that being when he was a competitor of the Hunger Games and I really think that knowing that helps us to understand why he is like the way he is now, and Cinna, what he did for Katniss, well, I don’t think that in a million years she would be able to thank him enough.
One thing I will say though is that just as Catching Fire capitalizes on the many strengths of The Hunger Games, it also proves to really push one of the major weaknesses into the forefront. That weakness being the execution of the romantic sub-plot as it concerns the rather limp love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. 
What makes this romantic conflict, in my mind, fail on just about every level is the almost complete lack of development of Gale as a character. As he only appears in either book for very limited periods of time, most of what the reader knows about him is told rather than shown. Thus as the story moves forward it becomes more and more difficult to identify with and understand Katniss’ underlying distress in regards to her feelings for Gale and how they conflict with her feelings for Peeta(we also only see more of Peeta than Gale…). Often the conflict feels completely unnecessary, especially when Katniss has worked out several very solid reasons why she doesn’t want to romantically involved with anyone at all thus providing quite enough conflict without the triangle.
But, to be fair, at the end of the day the romantic conflict is just a sub-plot and the main focus of the novel is on the fallout of the games and the stirrings of rebellion within the districts. So really, my complaint is a minor one in the grand scheme of things. Catching Fire is a hell of a fun read with an fantastic mixture of adventure, romance and intrigue. The themes, while mature, are never so mature that I would feel uncomfortable in recommending the series for teenagers as well as adults. 
At last Catching Fire definitely is a book that is not lacking the attraction of its predecessor but also a book that you don’t want to miss reading to get to the conclusion. So it definitely plays the part of the interim as well as sprouting such plot points that would make our blood run cold reading of the extent that the Capitol can go to extract revenge.  
Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia, Sci-fi

Publisher Scholastic 

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, I recommend it)


Post a Comment


Le' Grande Codex Template by Ipietoon Cute Blog Design