Sunday, September 6, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Published September 1, 2009.

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 sh
e 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. (book blurb)


I'll try not to but I just wanted to cover my ass in case I did. So you're been warned.

I swallowed The Hunger Games whole when I first read it and I've had my copy of Catching Fire since the end of May but I didn't get around to reading it until a couple of weeks ago (because I'm 9 different levels of OCD) and I don't know if I should have read it immediately after I read HG or waited even longer because goddamn it. Now I have to wait what, a year? before the third installment comes out? Shit.

I liked HG mainly because Collins isn't afraid to tear her characters new assholes. I love it when authors do that. The story was compelling, I cried at all the right moments (I'm a sap, shut up), I honestly felt for the characters and the writing was absolutely phenomenal because of all of those feelings. Any writer than can elicit such feelings in their readers is one that we need to hold on to and beg, plead and whine for them never to stop writing.

With Catching Fire, there was absolutely no disappointment. In fact, I thought it was better than HG. Yes, the edge is slightly taken off. HG was total shock and awe with what we were getting into. Gritty is putting it lightly. The Capitol people are fuckers with no moral code except to further feed their god complexes by using their subjects as pawns in their death games. So that shock has been tempered. We know, because of the ending of HG, that it's going to get worse but the impact wasn't as great this time around because we were expecting it. The element of surprise was gone.

That's ok. Because the poo still went hurling at the fan.

I wasn't a fan of the twist about mid-way through the book at first. For those that read it, you know what I'm talking about. I was kind of like, "really?" Kind of cyclical and I started questioning the author's motives. Why? What's the point of the repeat? And then I kept reading and the why became clear and the event grew on me and then I really started to feel for everyone involved. I just don't understand why they conceded. If all of the participants were that against what was going on that they made a public display of it, why not protest by inaction instead of participating? There was still very much a protest going on, which only answered my why question but it would have put the Capitol in just as precarious a position this time around like they were in HG, if not worse.

But I'll stop alluding.

When the Victory Tour started, prior to the twist, you can actually feel the dissent simmering from the pages and I really couldn't help but attach it to our current political situation. I highly, HIGHLY doubt that was the intent of the author but connections like that are going to be made regardless of what the author's intent was. It's not a strong connection but something I could feel not only going on on the page but in the world around me as well.

The way the people are treated is heart-wrenching. The public displays of enforced obedience and order are disgusting and you start to feel hopeless when everything starts putting up barriers around everyone. And fences start to get electrified. It seems like annihilation or submission is the only way to fight what's going on since the Capitol has such immense forces behind them.

But with the mention of District 13 brings hope. And conspiracy theories. I love conspiracy theories. It's not mentioned often, but often enough that it's ingrained this little seed of something in your brain. What's going on over there, if anything? Can we believe what people are saying about that place? Or should we believe the Capitol?

I'm not a big "shipper" so the relationships going on in the book (or any book, really) don't have all that much effect on me. I thought the forced relationship between Katniss and Peeta was sucky at best. I didn't like what the Capitol was making them do and I'm pretty sure that was the point. It sucks that Peeta's genuinely invested in the situation while Katniss is playing along but it creates for some great dramatic tension. At the same time, though, I wasn't too big of a fan of Katniss and Gale, not as a couple, anyway. I liked them as friends. They really complemented each other but beyond that, no. They'd make good warriors together. I can see Peeta being the voice with Gale and Katniss as the enforcers in the situation going on. But I think romance is the very last thing anyone in the book, or reading it, are concerned about. There's just way too much going on.

The book ends on such an INFURIATING note! Gah! And I have to wait a year to find out what happens??? *weep* The ending is just a segue into the next book and while I normally don't like those types of endings, it works here because what's going to happen next belongs in its own book. What happens in CF is the roiling the water does before it starts to boil. The next book will be the boiling point. If they're giving away ARCs of this one at the next BEA, I might have to make the 5 am stop there to get one.

The ending culminates at what's going to be a new beginning. Or a new cycle. We know what we want to happen in the next book but at the same time we know that Collins does nothing easily. If we want the good ending, the losses will be extremely high. If we don't get it, it'll be even worse. But there's so much at stake where we're left. We only know for sure what the status of a handful of characters are at the very end but we're missing out on other vital ones. Will they make it through the aftermath?

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock . . .


Jessica Kennedy said...

Great review! I finished it last night so I'm finally able to READ reviews. :)

I agree with your review 100%! :)

barbrafl said...

I got an ARC as well and read it in two days. So amazing. I was shocked with the twist, and thought it was a bit "come on, seriously?" but then the book continued and it was amazing.

Just a note, look at the cover of the book, of the mockingjay and the TWELVE SPOKES coming out around it. Think of what happened in the book which involved TWELVE SPOKES, and it all makes sense! Amazing book, can't wait for more.

Donna said...

Thanks, Jess!

Bar, I never even noticed that! Now I'm not going to get it out of my head! Awesome!

April said...

I just ordered this book and cannot WAIT to read it! Your review is awesome as always, I especially like your phrasing of tearing them a new asshole. It's refreshing to see swears and to see someone so honest :-D

Donna said...

LOL! Thanks! I just say what I feel! And that usually involves swears, much to my mom's chagrin.

barbrafl said...

Yeah, I didn't get it for a long while. I got an ARC and after I finished reading it, my friend emailed me, talking about covers, and I was like WOW. And I also have a wonder. Look at the bird on the cover of HG and then the cover of CF. They look different. Is the one on CF a Jabberjay?

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