14 September 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Grade: A

The moment I realized my homework has been discarded for a full day (a few hours at the time of realization), I knew that I had to finish this book if I needed to stay on top of things academically. Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought to focus in lecture this morning when I had fifty pages left to read. I just finished this book and here are my immediate reactions.

We still have old Katniss from The Hunger Games with us. She continues to be stubborn, thoughtful to a fault, and skilled in activities we could only dream about doing ourselves (like knot-tying and archery). Despite her ability to work through Haymitch's subtle messages, she still can't figure out the larger picture, hence her "smart to a fault" comment. The moment the new Head Gamemaker flashed his fancy one-of-a-kind watch, I knew Katniss had an ally when she didn't. The realization of the full rebellion falls short from her lack of ciphering through this information, so do the reasons that she wasn't fully informed in the first place. I'm hoping the next book will even this out.

I was slightly disappointed in Cinna's character in this book. The Hunger Games featured him as a charismatic friend and confidant who will help Katniss through a revolution. Because of circumstances in the book, however, she loses him as a confidant. The more we got of him, the more I felt we lost some of his charisma too. He was no longer a guiding light, just a helping hand. I expected him to be more involved in a rebellion than was revealed and to answer the question of why he specifically chose District 12 to be his district. His stunt involving Katniss's dress made up for some of that, but not all. By the way, that was fantastically surprising in all the good ways. Despite his fading, the last you see of him still hurts. Pull through, Cinna!

I also have something to say about the pace of the book. At first, I thought it was quick, jumping over bits of information from the first book and skipping some of the more boring but develomental scenes. Still, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the author. If you're writing a YA book with this much information and story and a page limit, what else are you going to cut out? Of course, information from the previous book shouldn't have to be elaborated upon. This is a sequel, so whatever happened in the first book should be knowledge for all who read the second. As for the scenes, sometimes it felt like jumping around. First she's walking in the woods, and the next thing you know, she's talking to Prim without a hint of doing anything else. Of course, we as readers should be able to know what she'll do between the woods and home, but I still got the jumping feeling.

To add to all this, I absolutely love this book. Peeta is just amazing, and his reconciliation in the beginning makes things much easier on bith the reader and Katniss. Haymitch is his usual self, but more bareable. Katniss's mother gets a bit more of a spotlight, and we finally see how Haymitch won his Games. We also get more of Gale in terms of what went on with him during and after the previous book. To add to this characterization, Katniss is personally threatened by President Snow. So now she must choose between trying to win over the president to smooth things over, and letting the rebellion take place while risking everything she holds dear.

A great book, a great story, and highly recommended.

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