November 22, 2013

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Yes, my holding out the berries had been the spark, but I had no way to control the fire.

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I read The Hunger Games series before I had a book review blog, so I never wrote a formal review for any of the books while they were fresh in my mind. But this series, especially this book, affected me so much that I'm glad I had the opportunity to re-read it upon the release of the movie and share my review with you today (I literally finished this book an hour before we left to the midnight showing of the film, which is why this review is posting late today! P.S. I'm sleepy.).

The second book in Suzanne Collins' dystopian young adult series, Catching Fire takes place a few months after The Hunger Games ends, finding Katniss Everdeen back in District 12, this time living comfortably in The Victor's Village. Her relationship with fellow victor, Peeta Mellark, is strained at best and she's fighting feelings for her best friend Gale after he's kissed her, exposing something that's been building between them long before The Games. But choosing which boy with whom to invest her time is the least of this seventeen year-old girl's problems. When President Snow visits her and threatens the lives of everyone she loves if Katniss doesn't play along with the Capitol's agenda to sweep her act of defiance under the table, Katniss realizes that she'll be playing The Games her whole life and must decide if she's brave enough to stand up for the things she believes in.

When I began reading this book, I had no idea what to expect, but Collins delivered everything I could have anticipated and more. For one, I started this book completely Team Gale, but Collins did an excellent job of taking Katniss and Peeta and allowing them to organically grow together as friends and companions that I didn't know which guy to love more by the end of the book. Katniss, while obviously selfless in her decision to initially volunteer for her sister, has acquired a strong sense of survival which she tends to misconstrue (in my opinion) as selfishness. In comparison, Peeta is completely selfless, thinking only of Katniss, even when it means helping Gale. I love to see how Katniss grows by learning from Peeta. I think the only reason Katniss is ever identified as "selfish" (even if selfish means only thinking of her loved ones versus the whole country) is because this story is told from her point of view making her transparent; but I think she is better able to decipher her values because of her relationship with Peeta and his value system. This adds a new dynamic to their relationship and uncovers a lot of who Peeta is (and why we love him! ;)).

But as I mentioned in my synopsis, Katniss' boy dilemma is the least of her problems. Her struggle with her value system is what brings this supernatural story down to a human level. The inconceivable is processed by a teenage girl like a teenage girl. I hate complaints that Katniss is too whiny, too insensitive to everyone's feelings, too pre-occupied with herself; if I were in her shoes I would have eaten the berries on day one of the 74th Hunger Games! I think she's allowed to struggle and her struggle uncovers her heart and her drive.

To keep my book review blog spoiler-free (as is always my goal), I have to refrain from discussing some of my favorite parts of this book, especially regarding Katniss and Peeta's public relationship and the premise of the Quarter Quell. In short, I loved the way this book had so many powerful little punches that kept me on my toes and at the edge of my seat. The pacing is incredible, especially coupled with how much emotion is compacted into each forward-moving segment. There are so many details I had forgotten about in the 2 years since I first read Catching Fire, and I'm so glad I was able to refresh my brain before seeing the movie.

Speaking of the movie, like the book it was everything I expected and more! I think the Catching Fire movie is so much better than The Hunger Games, especially because it didn't try to be artsy (i.e. shaky cameras and super close ups!! Who else HATED that?!). It put out the story (cutting most of what I expected) but it didn't change much. My only complaint is that, similar to the first movie, Katniss and Peeta's relationship didn't translate to the screen as well as I had hoped for. I guess what can I expect in such a short time frame, but that was my only disappointment nonetheless. I mean, I didn't even believe they were romantic, why would the Panem public? They did make Peeta so much more of an alpha-male than he is in the book, which I loved!! Sometimes I question Josh Hutcherson as Peeta when I see him in the media, but then when I'm watching the movie I just love him. Also, bonus fact about the movie: I noticed in the credits that a guy my mom used to date before she was married was in the stunts! HOW COOL, RIGHT?! I am trying to convince my mom to get back in touch with him muahaha! ;)

Bottom Line: This series changed my reading life and if you haven't read it, my biggest recommendation on this blog is that you read it NOW. And then go see the movie! If you need a refresh before the movie, I highly suggest taking the time to re-read it because I think you'll appreciate the movie even more! 10 out of 5 stars lol.

Did you love Catching Fire as much as I did? What was your favorite book in The Hunger Games Trilogy? Did you or will you go see the movie this weekend?

1 comment:

  1. I remember main story lines but not a lot of details from the books. I haven't reread any of them since MJ! I had kind of blocked out a lot of MJ and some posts on tumblr reminded me of certain things and my heart </3 haha! I'm glad you reread it again and it helped you with the movie!

    That is so cool that you're ~connected to a stuntman! I think technically my favorite book is the first but I always think of CF as my favorite because of Finnick. Also, I love the whole bigger picture that happens in CF. I did go see the movie! I liked it a lot and want to watch it again!


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