'Catching Fire' book review

By Martha Espinoza,

Katniss Everdeen, one of the 74th Hunger Games victors, returns hotter than ever in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

This second installment of the Hunger Games trilogy gives “girl on fire” a completely different meaning.

Here are my personal favorites:

1. Katniss gets drunk.
2. Katniss gets horny.
3. Katniss goes back at the arena!

(Okay, maybe not in that order.)

After reading the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, I must admit I was a little disappointed with these teen-targeted tiers. Not expecting much depth, I was strictly curious about this one. And although I did enjoy the Bedward love story (or not so much since I became a fervent supporter of Team Jacob), Meyer would occasionally let me down by using a big word in her desperate attempt to sound deep.

However, the only disappointment I experienced from Suzanne Collins’s writing was the end. Not because it was over. The exact opposite, actually. Just like in the first book, after Katniss and Peeta’s climactic victory in the Hunger Games, the book ends without an end. It lacks a definitive resolution.

After the climax, the tension keeps growing instead of winding down. And when you realize that there’s more to this and it is clearly not the end, Collins mercilessly cuts you right off. You, then, have no choice but to get out of your house, walk straight into the nearest bookstore and grab Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

There is no way I was the only one.

So what does Collins do at the beginning of Catching Fire? Builds up the tension from zero. That’s right. Katniss starts out in this book relatively calm, trying to figure out what to do with her life, for the rest of her life, as a Hunger Games victor.

Not forgetting the thankfully downplayed love triangle between her, Peeta and Gale (whom I’m still rooting for), she harshly realizes that coming out of the arena alive does not exactly mean life. Adjustments must be made to survive but that’s, of course, nowhere near the mount of her problems.

We get personally introduced to President Snow as the physical representation of evil as head of the tyrannic Capitol. But that’s not enough for Suzanne Collins either. She puts Katniss and Peeta back in the arena along with other former victors and the rebellion takes off.

But in the middle of all this, Katniss, as over-calculating and objectively oriented as ever, plays with fire again. Only this time, she does get burned. She experiences the powerful urge only a passionate kiss can entice, in front of all Panem, which includes Gale….

Former winners from previous Hunger Games come together for the much-expected uprising against the Capitol during the extra spicy Quarter Quell. Here, the book extends the story revealing real problems with real people in really scary (and, for some, terrifyingly relatable) situations. Collins throws in the right mix of ingredients when writing a story; gradually raising the stakes, needling the story with each word.

Collins’s style also features a particular charm. It keeps you hooked but it does not get old. Having Katniss and Peeta going back to the arena presents dangerous risks to develop boring and sloppy parallels from the first book. But by this time, I knew Collins’s talent well enough to expect not only a different story but also a much broader picture of Panem’s rocky socio-political war-edging circumstances.

And maybe a provoking argument about society today? But I’ll leave that up to you.

Hitting you with just the right amount of intensity and at the perfect moment, Collins takes this story to levels not imagined by even the most experienced readers. Drenched in action, twisted with psychological tension and gently agitated with a hint of love poisoning, Catching Fire is simply a must read.

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