The second book in The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire, is probably my favorite of the three. (Almost my favorite movie of the four.) We catch up with Katniss and Peeta six months after their Games, trying to live a normal life – as normal of a life and Victors can have. Both now, due to their victory, are richer than they were before. While we only get glimpses of how Peeta feels about the change, we fully understand Katniss’ feelings since this volume continues the first person narrative.
Katniss is unsettled with her new life. She tries to make the best of it, but she can’t shake the nightmares of the Games. Her mother and sister Prim seem to be adjusting to their new ways, and for their sakes Katniss tries as well. But the Victory Tour is approaching, and she is not looking forward to visiting the districts of the Tributes she has slain. Worst yet, President Snow pays her a visit on the eve of the Tour. He believes Katniss’ play with the night lock berries is a sign of rebellion, even though Katniss only wanted to save both herself and Peeta. But rebellion is stirring and Panem, and President Snow wants Katniss to quell the unrest – or he will harm everything she loves. Katniss does her best but the rebellion is building momentum even without her involvement.
After the Tour, things seem to go back to being quiet…until the 75th Hunger Games, a Quarter Quell, is announced. Each Quarter Quell, to celebrate another 25 years of the Games, has a different set of rules to choose Tributes. This year the Tributes are picked from surviving Victors of each district. Being the only female Victor from District 12, Katniss is by default a Tribute and finds herself in another Hunger Games. This year everything is different; this year, everything changes.
Catching Fire is more fast paced than its predecessor. There is more action once the actual Games begins. But the real action appears to be in the characters’ interactions and development. Once the Games begin, while they accumulate allies Katniss and Peeta can only trust each other. As the story progresses, Katniss finds herself more and more connected to Peeta. In The Hunger Games, she wants both herself and Peeta to survive. Her actual feelings for him are platonic, even though they feign at being lovers (or at least on Katniss’ part, Peeta really does love her). But in Catching Fire, you start to see Katniss genuinely care for Peeta. It may not be love – not yet – but she really cares about what happens to him.
The one thing that drove me a little nuts was the fact, like its predecessor, the Games don’t actual begin until almost halfway through the book. Then it seems like the Tribute Parade, the interviews, and all of the Games happens so fast, far too fast. While I am glad we don’t linger on the actual Games too long, it just feels a little rushed in the end. Still, overall, a great book and addition to the series.
My rating: 4.5/5