Monday, February 2, 2015

A Vintage Reads YA Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, 2) by Suzanne Collins, September 1, 2009. 405 pages. Published by Scholastic. Source: own.
Sparks are igniting. Flames are spreading. And the Capitol wants revenge.
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime 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 cannot 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, the consequences will be horrifying.
First Sentence:
I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea has long since leached into the frozen air.

After putting off reading Catching Fire for, umm, five years, I can finally say that I have read the second Hunger Games book. Part of the reason it has taken me so long to read this one is that it was over hyped during its release and I just didn't think a second book stood a chance of living up to book one. Well, I can say on one count that I was right.

I really wanted to like Catching Fire as much as I enjoyed reading The Hunger Games.  Alas that was not to be because the entire book felt drawn to unneeded lengths. Really, when you get down to it, this book could have been cut in half and it would have fared much better.
   So, why do I think this book was longer than it needed to be, well, that's because the build up to the Victors' return to the Hunger Games was way too long. Yes, I know there were a lot of things to cover, like the why's on their being dragged back to the arena and the emotional fallout from their first game. Yet, I think too much time was spent on that because it left very little room for things to progress into the next arc of the story-line.

In one way, Catching Fire is a thrilling read as Katniss and company have so much going on with the Capitol putting more pressure on them and the threats hanging over their heads; on the flip-side, I felt like things kept circling around too few plot threads to actually keep things progressing without becoming stale.
   It may have been my imagination, or was Catching Fire a really, really slow read? Even though it started out super slow, like how am I going to continue on slow, I still found myself unable to put it aside as I kept hoping it would get better. I'm not saying it was a horrible read, just that it was disappointing after reading Hunger Games. I really did keep hoping it would not only pick up, that maybe, just maybe I would start to care about the characters again. Well, let's just say, I did not start liking any of them till pretty near the end.

After the end of The Hunger Games I was expecting more from not just the book but from the characters. I don't know, I guess I just expected them to actually do something about their situation instead of standing back and being pushed around. Really, Katniss disappointed me because she seemed to have lost her edge.
   Yet, while I did feel like the characters took multiple steps back, it was for understandable reasons, emotional scaring from the games and fear for those they loved, that made it okay(ish) within the story. Although, I think perhaps the story-line lingered too long on their emotional state since the book was about a rebellion catching fire within the districts. Even though the indepth look at how the characters were or were not dealing with the trauma from the games was interesting, I think the plot-line hinged too much upon that fact and forgot to progress forward.

One of the things that took away from my enjoyment of Catching Fire would have to be the hype monster. Oh, how much I wanted to read Catching Fire when it came out, yet, it was talked about so much that I just could not bring myself to open a copy of the book. IT WAS EVERYWHERE!!!! While the over hype of Suzanne Collins' follow-up to The Hunger Games was part of the reason I never got around to reading it till late last year, the biggest reason for me not reading it, well, that was because someone spoiled the end of the series on their review. I don't recall who did it, nor do I wish to, but they talked about who died and I just lost all interest in reading the last two books. T_T

Final Verdict: Catching Fire- Slow and predictable. Definitely not how I pictured the follow-up to The Hunger Games; yet interesting in a way.

Catching Fire earns

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