Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
After only two days of reading, I have just finished the second book in the Hunger Games series, “Catching Fire.” The first book was an equally quick read and provided an interesting story set in a post apocalyptic American future.
The second story continues where the first left off, with Katniss, the main protagonist, coping with the ramifications of her controversial and seemingly rebellious win in the Hunger Games. This win allowed her and her partner, Peeta (a pathetically sad example of a man and a generally loathsome character), to survive — something unprecedented since there’s only supposed to be one winner (think of it as a gladiator style competition, but with kids).
Sadly, the first half of the book comprises of a woe-is-me story that wastes the reader’s time with almost nothing that advances the story. There’s hints of a rebellion in other districts and the government seems to know everything that Katniss does (even when she illegally hunts in the wilderness outside her district and kisses a childhood friend).
Which is all the more perplexing when she ventures back out into the woods and encounters refugees from another district talking of rebellion. It’s like she completely forgot about what happened in the opening pages of the story with regard to the President’s warning.
Halfway through the book, the story takes a predictable turn and forces Katniss and Peeta back into the arena. Fantastic! We basically get to re-read book one all over again. There’s some slight differences. People seem to be more angry with the government and the tributes (gladiators) seem to bond prior to the games.
Once in the arena, the story dissolved into a poor tale of survival as Katniss and others grouped up to survive. She struggles with issues of trust, love, and survival — including trying to escape a fog that acts like a nerve agent, mutant killer monkeys, crazy talking birds, random tsunamis, and other assorted lethal traps. The whole time, Peeta worries over protecting Katniss, who can clearly handle him and anything else that comes her way. Like I said, we’re basically re-reading the first book, word for word.
The ending provides an abrupt, untidy, unsatisfying, yet completely predictable conclusion to the Games. A conspiracy among the other tributes to keep Katniss alive has been carried out all along, without Katniss (or the all knowing government) aware of it. The ending simply serves to setup book three. Great.
Sadly, I have no desire to read book three, yet I feel I must. It’s like how I started feeling about Lost — started off interesting, then get sloppy, but I’ve put all this time into it, so I must see how everything concludes.