Monday, February 20, 2012
Feeding on Words: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
My take on the story:
I have to admit that now, after finishing all three books, I still have to think of where The Hunger Games ended and where the Mockingjay begins before I remember what happened in Catching Fire. It's not really a bad thing, it's more of Collins' expert ability to segue stories together even between books. She has effectively connected all the books by some events and one book will not survive without the other. Catching Fire definitely will not be as exciting as it is if you don't read Hunger Games first or read Mockingjay after. (Just my opinion and maybe I'm wrong since I read the three in order.)
Anyway, despite that, I think Catching Fire is still as awesome as its predecessor. The build up of the rebellion, the desire of Katniss to end the spark she started, the Capitol's threats, everything that leads to a full blown war was taken up by this magnificent piece of work.
I felt Katniss' confusion on starting a rebellion or stopping it. I was there with her when the Capitol wanted the victors to fight against each other in the Quarter Quell. I felt the desperation of alliances to be made and to whom they will be made with. The prose of this book guides you into the challenges of fire-starters, the ones whose opinions and actions ignite the world. It lets you think of how wars start, of how power-hungry people cause too much damage and how people caught in between have to suffer for it.
Of course, the love story of Peeta and Katniss is also a centerpiece. The second book, however, was not able to deliver the disdain Peeta had felt at the end of the first book. It was like he was very angry at her and by the time they talk to each other in the second book, the anger was greatly diminished. For me it felt a little weird and a little like being cut out because of a wrong plot turn. On the other hand, I guess it shows how much Peeta actually loves Katniss. No matter how angry he'd been, when Katniss suddenly exploded, he was there to comfort her. It was beautiful. And throughout the book Peeta was always there for her, supporting her. When they knew they were going back to the arena, he was prepared to die for her like he had decided even in the first hunger games.
Even more, the victors and the people in the districts already had plans for Katniss. She was the Mockingjay and they were prepared to save her. There were victors who died just for her and District 13 (yes, the one that was supposed to have been disintegrated) took pains in revealing their existence just to get them out of the arena alive. The teamwork, the compassion, the strategies, everything was well planned and even though Katniss and Peeta had no idea what was to happen, the plan went well.
At least, well enough to lead all of us into the next book because at the very end we are left with the knowledge that Peeta had been captured by the Capitol. At this time, we're all rooting for him rather than for Gale who has always been absent despite his expressed claims to want to run away with her and leave everything behind. We are left wondering if Peeta is still alive, if the Capitol will strike against District 13 and the other districts, if Katniss will ever forgive Haymitch for leaving her out of the plans, if Panem will ever be safe and livable again.
Oh and the very last line in Catching Fire tells us that "there is no District 12". Doesn't that just make you want to scream and read the next book? =)
In all, I think Catching Fire is not really as effective as a solo book but is a wonderful segue for the first and the third books. The events in the story were beautiful but everything now seems to blend into either the first or the third book. Basically, I love it still.
Read my The Hunger Games review here. Will post Mockingjay review soon.
May the odds be ever in your favor!
p.s. Wait with me for March 23, 2012 when The Hunger Games Movie gets released! The world will be watching. =)