Catching Fire by Susan Collins

The book ‘Catching Fire’ is the second in the famous trilogy by Suzanne Collins. And though it is first and foremost the suspenseful novel packed with action and events, it is much more about social changes and the imminence of drastic changes.
The image of the Capitol of Panem painfully resembles the decaying/ decomposing Rome in last decades of existence: the self-indulgence in make-up, excessive body and face decorations, orgies/ parties, shows like ‘Hunger Games’ for the poor, and the conceited belief in one’s invulnerability and might. The ominous feeling of crackdowns, oppression, upending social unrest and changes permeates the novel. This is definitely a significant improvement in this novel. The second novel gravitates to the classical dystopian book of George Orwell much more than the first one.
Together with the general background of the novel the main character Katniss undergoes major changes as well. In the first novel she was a focused survivor, rough and tough. In this novel her inner dialog is much stronger (it is a serious help for a reader to interpret the novel) and she sounds different. She is more self-centered (Yes, she is thinking how to save Peeta, but she easily chooses who she is going to sacrifice among other tributes), impetuous, impulsive, and self-righteous. She is not the endearing character, but she is a truthful one. Kantiss is also blind in her roughness and truthfulness. She is totally clueless about the resistance movement , and it was irritating for me to see that she could not put the pieces of the easy puzzle together.
The present-tense narration creates this strong and powerful feeling of co-presence as if you are an ever watchful camera in this arena. This approach turns the novel into a horrendous reality show.The language is deliberately rough and gritty. The characters are not introduced as characters (due to ‘the I’ of the story), but they are showcased, thus their actions speak for them.
In general, it is a more mature novel as it gives an extra insight of what was going in the bigger world. it does not focus primarily on Katniss, and she turns out to be a footnote to the hidden action, though quite an inspiring one. To sum it up, it does make a good second book in the trilogy.

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2 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Dystopian, YA

2 responses to “Catching Fire by Susan Collins

  1. Lisa

    I agree whole-heartedly with your review. I am curious about whether you have read the final book in the series yet. Many people I know who have read Mockingjay have said that they find it to be slower paced and harder to read in general. However, I found it to be the most powerful in its message, which is punctuated by its conclusion. You are so eloquent in your analysis that I would enjoy reading your take on it.

  2. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind words! I read all three novels sequentially, but I am a lazy person. As a result, the review is still not here.
    It is my least favorite novel, and it has nothing to do with the plot. It is the author’s philosophy – her disdain when it comes to any form of government. It is the only thing that we learn from this novel – any government is bad. The ideal lifestyle for her characters is simplistic, rustic, away from the urban culture of Panem with its decadent lifestyle, fashion, and cuisine. I am a hipster and a liberal, so the book did not resonate with me as the other two. When it is the exploration of an individual, it is interesting and gripping, but when Collins became preachy about her outlook, it became somewhat annoying.

    I do not blame her – this was the final book in the trilogy, and she had to justify her position, and yes, she has a reason to state it loudly because as it is widely known, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So I think I agree to disagree with the author, but eventually it was a gripping trilogy with very mature topics for the young generation. Besides, the trilogy fascinated many grown-ups, so it was a worthy read.

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