Catching Fire AKA The Hunger Games Book Two AKA Snow Falls at Midnight

So that last one has never been a title for the second Hunger Games book.  But I like it and it makes sense.  Anyway, on with the review.

Catching Fire is about the swell of political unrest that began in the first book.  We get a better look at the Capitol as viewed through previous Hunger Games, the life of the aristocracy, and the swift malevolence of the privileged elite.

I’ve certainly read worse books than Catching Fire.  It’s a fun read that, like the first, moves very quickly and is fun.  It’s brutal, it doesn’t get in the way of action, and there are plenty of great, “Okay, just one more chapter even though I had to be asleep two hours ago,” moments.

My main complaint is that while it starts out seeking to tell a very different story from its predecessor, it loses sight of this aim.  Catching Fire begins to be about the political intrigue and the slow bubble of unrest among Panem and then uncomfortably drags the reader back to all too familiar territory for the second half of the book.

Was the shift possible within the confines of the setting?  Absolutely it was.  I can’t deny that something can’t happen in the The Hunger Games because it clearly did.  But at no point does the mere fact of its placement automatically justify its own existence.

The ending is not, however, unnecessary.  It’s actually quite cool.  I saw most of it coming, but I felt it at least tried to justify the shift.  Did it work entirely?  Nope, not really.  But I’m happy for the ending.

So my overall impression?  Catching Fire is a step back.  It’s not a terrible book by any means, its just uncomfortable.  Not in the Martian Sunrise Canon.  I would not recommend it to my great, great grandchildren.  But the first half is pretty decent, I’ll give it that.

And as an unfair, last minute nitpick before we brave the territory of spoilers, a coal miner’s daughter should not use a word so highbrow as “mollify.”

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE NEW CATCHING FIRE BOOK

So here we are.  Perhaps what made the jump back into the arena so annoying was the intrigue of the Capitol.  We have the heroic couple touring the Districts, the rumors of District 13 still carrying on, the gross display of the citizens binging and purging, the strain of an impending loveless marriage, President Snow creepily breathing down Katniss’ back, and the flashing of Plutarch Heavensbee’s mockingjay watch.  This is interesting, juicy material that I was enjoying mightily.

And then we’re taken away from it all.  Was the new arena fun?  Of course.  We saw new traps, new mutts, and colorful characters.  But it really wasn’t necessary.  Why can’t the book be about Katniss and Peeta skulking around before the wedding?  It would have been a great sequel.

So how’d I do with my predictions?

Yes there’s a love triangle.  I’m still holding out that Katniss will choose Peeta.  His capture will make him all the more tantalizing.

Yes there’s already a resistance and all three are connected to it.  It least it seems like they are.

Muttations don’t return.  I’m not holding on to them taking down the Capitol.

Going forward, I’m guessing that:

The love triangle will be resolved.  Madge will lure in Gale.  Katniss will get over herself and pick Peeta.

The Capitol will fall.  Haymitch will die as a hero of the rebellion.

Peeta will not only play a crucial part in the downfall of the Capitol, but will take a high office in the new government.

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3 Responses to “Catching Fire AKA The Hunger Games Book Two AKA Snow Falls at Midnight”

  1. ‘And as an unfair, last minute nitpick before we brave the territory of spoilers, a coal miner’s daughter should not use a word so highbrow as “mollify.”’

    This was GREAT for a deep-throated chuckle.

    I stopped reading the book when they announced who was going back into the arena. Just felt like I’d been there and had no interest in going back. The plotting and pacing, as mentioned just about everywhere, were masterful. But it wasn’t enough to force me back.

    Also, I was secretly rooting for Gale, all along. Peeta was a little too good at PR for my taste. And Katniss made too many assumptions. Felt a little forced.

    Everyone’s a critic! 🙂

    • You know Suze, I could have dropped it on the return to the arena, but I have the problem of swallowing what I bit off no matter how gross the taste. I really should learn to not hold completion on such a high standard. The times are short, we better use them wisely!

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