After watching the new film, The Hunger Games, my love for this series has been rekindled and I was eager to get back into reading the other books in the series. It is fair to say that I was slightly distressed when 30 pages into reading this novel, the select button on my Kindle decided to stop functioning rendering it useless. I immediately ran for my laptop determined to keep reading this captivating novel and I haven't moved since. Six hours later, I have finally finished Catching Fire, my bum is completely numb from the lack of activity and my laptop has heated up so much I think it might just melt - but it was worth it.
Catching Fire is the second instalment in The Hunger Games trilogy and picks up right where the first book left off. After Katniss and Peeta were both crowned victors of the 74th annual Hunger Games, there have been murmurs of rebellion in all twelve district of Panem and it's fair to say the Capitol is not happy. The whole point of the Hunger Games is to remind the twelve districts of the power of the Capitol and Katniss has seriously undermined their authority by threatening to commit suicide alongside her 'lover' Peeta at the end of the last Hunger Games. The Capitol had no choice but to let there be two victors that year or face having no victor at all but now Katniss and Peeta must bear the consequences. Katniss has become a Mockingjay, a symbol of rebellion for all those in Panem and the Capitol is determined to suppress this. With the 75th annual Hunger Games coming up, or the third Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games with a twist that comes about only once every 25 years, the Capitol's got a trick up it's sleeve to quiet the unrest in Panem, and it's a shocker.
Whilst the first instalment of the series is predominantly a dystopia novel, there were some suggestions of a romance forming between Peeta and Katniss. This is explored much further in the second novel as the pair have to face the Capitol together. Whilst their relationship was all an act in order to survive in the arena (at least from Katniss' point of view), their lives are now forever intertwined by the Capitol. Personally, what I find most interesting about this series is the love triangle between Peeta, Gale and Katniss and since the first Hunger Games is over the focus moves onto this strand of the plot.
As I mentioned before, I literally just sat down and read this book for six hours straight. That is how addictive it is. I was completely engrossed in the novel and was basically dead to the world until I finished it. This book is a real page turner that's really easy to read. The plot flows from page to page seamlessly so you don't even realise how much content you're going through. There were a lot of shocking moments for me during this novel that I, in no way shape or form, saw coming, which is refreshing after reading so many predictable teen novels. This book took hold of me from the moment I read the very first word and I was completely drawn into the world of Katniss Everdeen. There are some really beautiful and heart warming moments but also some which have you tearing your hair out or clasping your hand to your mouth in shock. This book made my heart pound like few books have done before it and is definitely one of the books at the top of my recommendations list. Whilst there are some elements that are similar to those of the first book, this book is still full of completely original ideas and it isn't in the least bit repetitive.
Now that I've finished reading the book and it's review, I'm straight off to read the third and final instalment of the trilogy, despite the mountainous pile of revision I've got to get through. Yep, it's so good that A-Levels have been completely shoved to the back of my brain. If you haven't read the series or watched the film then you are seriously missing out on what's deemed to be the 'next Harry Potter and Twilight' and I highly recommend this book to boys and girls of all ages for a thoroughly gripping read.
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Soon to be a major film series. Something I found out after reading the first one. I can see it being a good film, although reading up on that and the books more, it seems this series is less of a hit with the male population - on the premise that this book mentions romance.
So, to clarify. I'm a man. I'm not young adult, and I'm not one for reading romance novels. The Twilight series are just wrong in my opinion.
Now we've established that, I can hopefully persuade you that these books are not romance novels. Nor are they just for kids.
This book picks up a few months after the close of the first (The Hunger Games). Peeta and Katniss are still playing up their romance for the Capitol crowds, and getting ready for their tour of the districts. But word is spreading of an uprising in the districts, and now President Snow is looking for blood.
I won't go in to more detail about the plot - you can read that in the product details above, and to be honest, if you've read the first book, and are already here - why haven't you bought this yet?
I've read some reviews saying this book isn't as good as the first one. I disagree, partly. The plot, and the writing are as good, if not better than the first. It lets itself down slightly by The Games being not as involved as the first book - but then I don't think they really are meant to be. They serve their purpose to get us to the start of book 3 (Mockingjay (Hunger Games)), and they do it well.
If you have read the first book, you should read this right now. You'll enjoy it, I promise. If you haven't read the first book, you need to go do that before reading this one.
I for one, am off to the third book.
So, the 'Hunger Games'. What a blazing book that was; 'Battle Royale' meets 'Big Brother'. But the first book only really got the story started. The main attraction of the book were the Games themselves, and only tantalising glimpses of the dystopian world were given.
In Catching Fire, we delve deeper into the history and mystery of this futuristic world. We learn a a few things about how Panem came to be, but also many more questions are raised. Did you think things would become less complicated for Katniss and Peeta after the Games ended? Far from it. Everything becomes far more complicated, and events spiral beyond their control.
The genuinely terrifying President Snow, a snakelike being who smells of blood and roses, is as threatening and hateful when he's not present as when he is. He's angry at our heroes, and getting angrier by the day as the unrest in the downtrodden districts grow. Katniss and Peeta are playing figurative chess with their lives as well as their loved ones. But there seems to be no escaping the power of Snow, and the revenge he brings crashing down upon them is horrific, devastating and, I will admit, completely unexpected.
In fact, that's the whole thing about 'Catching Fire', although the first 'Hunger Games' was an excellent book, it was a little predictable. This isn't. Every chapter seems to end on a plot twist, and your breath will catch in your throat as you fear for what could happen next.
On the downside, 'Catching Fire' is the second part of a trilogy, traditionally the weakest book in three because it neither has the advantage of starting the story nor finish it. Stories are followed up from where they left off, and some are started but not finished, obviously ready for the final installment, but 'Catching Fire' doesn't feel like it's own book. Plus, you could practically split this book in half, each half in very different places, with different stakes and different characters, and both almost completely inconsequential of each other, so it can feel a bit...tacked on at times. Plus 'Catching Fire' does sometimes retread familiar ground, making it feel a bit lazy here and there.
But honestly, these are just nitpicks. If you liked the first book, as I did, then you'll be just as delighted (and terrified) by this one. And, without spoiling anything, the last few chapters could be some of the finest, scariest, most heart-stopping moments I've ever read, and left me gagging for the final book.
If 'Hunger Games' left you hungry for more, then 'Catching Fire' will set you ablaze. Essential reading, for young adults and adults too. Not for the faint-hearted!
on 3 June 2013
Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and picks up a few months after the events of the first book. In this story Katniss has to attempt to settle back into as normal a life as she can after winning the Hunger Games and defying the capitol. Tensions are high because we know the capitol want to retaliate for Katniss and Peeta's defiance.
First of all, I think this book was better written than the first one. I absolutely loved the first book; such a fast paced and great story. I am a pretty slow reader but I got through it in just four days (While also doing some voluntary work in Rwanda, but that's another story...). This book was the same - fast paced, every chapter finishing on a bit of a cliffhanger, literally making you want to turn page after thrilling page.
My only problem with this book would be the final few chapters. The story just kind of stops after a while, and the ending came out of nowhere. If you couldn't physically see how many pages you have left to read I think you'd be very surprised at when this book ends. That being said, the ending is pretty exciting and I am looking forward to reading Mockingjay.
I think this book perhaps sets up the next story a little too much. No major life-changing events really happen to Katniss, although some things are yet to be resolved in book 3. The second part of a trilogy always seems to be my least favourite. Although Catching Fire was certainly not ever boring or badly written, I feel there could have been just that little bit more.
Actually, one other problem I have with this book and The Hunger Games as a whole is the character of Gale. We all know that Katniss is supposed to really care for him and he's a huge part of her life and feels guilty because of all the romance stuff with Peeta. But he is hardly in either book. So we as readers don't really feel much for him and kind of root for Peeta instead. Hopefullt we'll see much more of Gale in Mockingjay.
Anyway, good book, if you haven't read any of the Hunger Games yet I'd definitely recommend you start your Hunger Games journey with book 1 today!
on 2 November 2011
With every sequel that follows a phenomenally successful book, there is always the worry that the next book will not compare with the first. But when the first book is The Hunger Games, you have no choice but to read on because the events of the first book left you begging for more.
As sequels go, Catching Fire is a good one. Katniss and Peeta don't simply arrive home from the Games and live happily ever after. There is as much tension here as in it's predecessor; not only do they have to deal with the emotional scars of being victors, but the book begins with a visit from the dangerously scary President Snow. At the end of HG, Katniss was warned by Haymitch about the consequences of her actions at the end of the Games and now Snow is here to ensure she remembers. Katniss has lit a fire in the Districts by defying the Capitol with the berries and now she must rectify that or else pay the consequences. Snow will leave you in no doubt that he will ensure the consequences for Katniss will be worse than she possibly imagine. What's more, Katniss and Peeta now share the same misfortune as Haymitch, because being a Victor means being a Mentor to every new Tribute from their District. But the Games this year are not your average Hunger Games: this will be the Seventy-Fifth Hunger Games and Katniss knows that every quarter of a century they hold a Quarter Quell - the Hunger Games but with a serious twist. For instance, 25 years ago, the last Quarter Quell, the Districts were ordered to send twice as many Tributes, meaning 48 teenagers took part in those games. And this year's twist is a good one; so good that it will have you flicking through the pages furiously to find out what happens.
Of course there's the issue of Peeta and Katniss' relationship, or lack of one, to deal with. Now they're home, there is also the matter of Gale, whose feelings for Katniss become very apparent in his sequel, and these issues are not swept under the rug and ignored in favour of the main plot. It is an ever present issue throughout the book, yet at the same time in no way is it in any danger of becoming the purpose of this story. As in The Hunger Games, any romance here is secondary to the injustice surrounding both characters, which in turn ensures that their feelings for one another, whatever those feelings may be, are correctly prioritised in their own lives too.
In The Hunger Games my big worry before reading it, and I'm sure this was the worry of many people, was how it would treat the frequent death and murder. But if you've read The Hunger Games (which presumably you have!) you'll know how carefully and realistically it was written. Likewise in Catching Fire the repercussions of what happened in Hunger Games are explored truthfully and sensitively. As with HG, it gives a sense of realism to the book that so many similar books lack. It doesn't gloss over the serious issues in favour of action and romance; you honestly understand the repercussions of being a victor of the Hunger Games. It's this realism that ensures the events of this book are as terrifying as if they happened in real life.
I did have have one problem with the book, though, and that was how the two parts of the book, the first and the second, felt like two different books. There was a lot to be covered in this book - the Victory Tour, the repercussions of the Games and of Katniss' defiance, and then the Quarter Quell - with the result that it felt like a lot of things had been crammed into one book. It felt like two separate books rather than one, and not just because so much had been crammed into it, but because the first half of the book didn't build up to the second. It also felt largely repetitive; a lot of the book went over the same ground as the first one. But does that mean that you'll love it less than the first book? I doubt it. There is plenty to love about this book, especially the new characters and the twist of the Quarter Quell, and while there was no way a sequel to the Hunger Games could ever compare to the original book, this is definitely a worthy attempt. There are more surprises in this book than in the first and you'll find that what happens is just as thrilling and action-packed as the first book. It will leave you fuming at the injustice of it all!
on 1 September 2011
Catching Fire brings back a whole host of old characters but also manages to throw in a lot of new and exciting ones at the same time. I loved watching favourites like Katniss, Peeta and Gale deal with the new characters and the situations they were put in. Each new character is fleshed out extremely well and I felt like I knew them just as well as the characters from the first book. Each character in this book, and the series, has something incredibly interesting about them from new villain President Snow to Katniss' mother. Although each character is completely different, you can see aspects of them that are so real that you cant help but connect with them.
Katniss, for me, was so real. After following her through an insane experience of The Hunger Games, you cannot help but feel sorry for the girl. Anyone who doesn't feel sorry for her at this point must be missing a heart. The thing about Katniss for me is that she is so real. She beats up on herself for things that have happened or are happening around her and can't help but feel like she is to blame for everything. Unlike other female characters in other books who do this, it never feels like Katniss is whinging about everything. Her complains are well justified and I could see why she feels the way she did. Getting to read the story from her point of view really makes it possible to understand everything that she is going through and how she reacts to everything.
Although the first half of the book seems to plod along at quite a slow pace, it was worth while. The first half of the book concentrates on the repercussions of Katniss and Peeta surviving the games together and what happens because of that outcome. In the first half of the book, we get to learn a lot more about the Capitol and how things work which was an aspect of the book that I loved. I really enjoyed getting to see a whole different side of the world that Collins created because we really didn't get to see too much of it in the first book. Another thing I was glad to see was how Katniss and Peeta's lives had changed since the games. I really liked being able to see the difference in quality of life between winners and those who were just regular citizens.
The thing that I was most glad to see in Catching Fire was the return of the games. I was wondering how Collins was going to keep the same kind of energy and suspense in this book after The Hunger Games had finished but she definitely surprised me. I wasn't expecting for there to be another round of the games at all and the way it was done was impeccable. There were so many twists and turns where the games were concerned and I was always wondering what would be thrown in to the arena next. This round of the games was so exciting and the tension was incredible. At times, I liked reading about this round of the games more than the original.
While I don't think that Catching Fire was as good as The Hunger Games, it was certainly a lot better than I had been told it would be. It did make me want to pick up Mockingjay straight away though so I was happy with how it ended. A great read.
on 29 August 2010
I absolutely adored The Hunger Games, but for some reason, wasn't all that enthusiastic in picking up Catching Fire. But now I've read it, I wish I hadn't waited so long! This book is so amazing, I am quite literally speechless.
As some people on Twitter will know, when I first started reading, I wasn't pulled in right away. I still had reservations for unknown reasons - probably scared it wasn't going to match up to the first book. I have to say, although it was never boring, it did take a while for Catching Fire to pull me in, but once it had, that was it. I rarely put the book down. And it was sooo exciting!
And you know the worst thing? I have no idea how to talk about this book in the detail I'd normally go into without spoiling it. So much happens, so much you don't expect, and it all starts from the beginning! I can tell you that the characters are still amazing. Katniss is just as awe-inspiring as she was in The Hunger Games. Peeta has grown on me considerably; I never disliked him, but I didn't love him either. Now he's just the sweetest guy. But I'm still a big fan of Gale's. He's just so determined to do what's right, he's just amazing.
The action is just as good as in The Hunger Games, but in a different way. I really can't say much more than that. It's exciting, and has you on the edge of your seat, and is just completely wow! And the cliffhanger! Oh my god! The cliffhanger makes me glad that I did wait this long, so I can now pick up Mockingjay to find out what happened. Just amazing. I cannot recommend this series enough!
The Hunger Games and the followup Catching Fire are, in my experience, not so much to be read as to be devoured. Even though having seen the movie first dampened some of the impact of the story, it's still an incredibly well-paced, tense and beautifully characterised book. Katniss Everdeen is a wonderful protagonist - strong-willed but vulnerable, racked with PTSD but determined that in the end she'll face the Games on her own terms. Catching Fire is perhaps not as coherently plotted as the first, but makes up for that with some pitch-perfect explorations of the psychological damage that the events of the first book inflicted. Utterly compelling from start to finish.
Having survived the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is back home in Sector 12, not looking forward to her role as a mentor for the next year's games. She is surprised to hear rumours that her defiance of the Capitol and President Snow during the Games has sparked unrest and even discord in other sectors. When she and her co-winner, Peeta, conduct a tour of the districts, Katniss realises that her name and her emblem, the mockingjay, are being taken up as a symbol of rebellion and hope.
Determined to crush Katniss's influence, Snow arranges a special new Hunger Games event for the 75th anniversary of the games. All the living winners of the games must return to the arena for a fresh battle...
Catching Fire is the second volume of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins' highly successful, post-apocalypse, dystopian YA SF series. Collins never intended to write a trilogy, so Catching Fire has some work to do to set up a bigger storyline that will be resolved in the following novel, namely the move from merely being a story set in a dystopia to a more epic story about the overthrow of the oppressive government.
For these reasons Catching Fire has some issues. We're more than halfway through the novel before the second Hunger Games kick off, and we're not able to spend much time with those games before the conclusion arrives. This is a shame as Collins addresses some of the weaknesses of the first set of games, with many more contestants being identified and much better-characterised than first time around. The arena is also far more ingenious, with many more deadly traps. The games section of the novel and the conclusion are both rushed in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible before the final novel, which hurts the quality of this book.
That said, it's still a fast-paced, readable and enjoyable book. We see more of Panem and get more of a sense what life is like for people living there, which is essential to better-establish the wider backdrop of the series. On the characterisation front, Katniss isn't always a sympathetic protagonist and often makes mistakes, which makes her more relatable and real. Other characters, like Peeta and newcomers like Finnick, are also given some solid scenes and character-building moments. The mutual hatred and anger between Katniss and President Snow is also well-handled. However, the Capitol and its rulers are rather dense in this book. Everything they do seems designed to inflame the situation and further the rebellion, which is weird for people who've been in charge for a century and have used the Hunger Games as a form of propaganda and control for seventy-five years, which requires some savvy knowledge of media and PR. Instead, the plot feels set-up ahead of time and both the reader and the characters are along for the ride.
Catching Fire (***½) is a drop down in quality from The Hunger Games, but still an enjoyable and entertaining novel. It is available now in the UK and USA.
One advantage of coming to this trilogy late is that I don't have to wait for the next one. Catching Fire picks up immediately where The Hunger Games leaves off (these books MUST be read in sequence). Katniss is having to come to terms with the impact of her decisions at the end of the previous book - both in terms of her personal life, but also what it means for Panem.
It starts a little slowly, but it builds and builds with a couple of twists you won't see coming and you'll be clutching it breathlessly and refusing to stop reading right through to the ending - which will have you desperate to get your hands on volume 3. In fact, probably best to have Mockingjay (part III of The Hunger Games Trilogy) to hand from the get go, because I promise that you will want to read it IMMEDIATELY when you finish this one.
I could be harsh and say that Katniss is a bit slow to figure out some things that are blatantly obvious to the reader and also that I'm left with some questions about the motivations of a couple of the characters but overall this series is just so gripping, so original and so compelling that to give it less that 5 stars would be utterly unjust.