Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book #2)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Pages: 391 (Hardcover edition)
How I came upon this book: I bought it at a thrift shop

Summary (SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST BOOK): highlight to read in case you haven't read the first novel in the series!

'By winning the annual Hunger Games, District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen, and Peeta Mellark have secured a life of safety and plenty for themselves and their families, but because they won by defying the rules, they unwittingly become the fans of an impending rebellion.' - Scholastic Press summary

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is one of those rare sequels of a book series that you devour the second you read the first chapter.  Unlike most book sequels that have a case of the "sophomore slump", Catching Fire proves that these are the exceptions to such a rumour.

The book starts out what I believe is a few months after the first novel, (The Hunger Games), although it is never really stated.  Katniss Everdeen, our main protagonist, is back at District 12 as a victor in the '74th Hunger Games', which is basically a place where all Districts (there are 12) in a nation called Panem, pick two children, boy and girl, to represent their district in a "game" where all of the tributes fight to the death.  The last standing tribute will be crowned victor and go back home to their District where they and their family will be set up in a nice home, and treated well by the Capitol, which is Panem's main city.

Unfortunately, for Katniss and her family and friends, the Capitol isn't to happy about how she won the '74th Hunger Games', and they decide to seek revenge on Katniss, and everyone around her as a punishment for what she has done.

The pacing of the book is what sets it apart from a lot of YA books that I've read in the past.  It's one of those books that when you finish a chapter, you'll want to read another because of the way the previous chapter had ended.  This is something of a good thing and a bad thing.  The good thing, of course, is that the book keeps your attention till the very end.  The bad thing, is that you won't know where the time went when you look up after reading 14 chapters, and realising that you've missed breakfast, lunch and it's dinner time.

The book, like the first, is divided into three sections.  There are 27 chapters, each chapter approximately 7-11 pages long, which isn't that bad, especially with the amazing pacing of the story.

I really had a fun time reading it, and I may have even cried during a few parts (I have crazy emotions).  Collins has a way of creating a world where you feel for the characters, and make you want to get to know them, even the antagonists in the series.

The only problem I had with the story, and I feel like this was one of the things most people had a problem with, were how it was almost like the first book.  It seemed a re-hash, with a few different characters thrown in.  While I didn't mind it as much, it kind of felt like dejavu.

I also, am not that fond of Peeta Mellark, yet.  I've heard from a few people that once you read the third book, you'll understand why many people like him, but for now, I just don't understand the appeal that his gives Katniss, and the many readers out there.

The ending left me wanting more, which again, I applaud Suzanne Collins' pacing on the novel.  I recommend this book, and it's prequel (The Hunger Games) to anyone that wants to take a step back from the vampires, werewolves, and zombies, and just wants to read an 'on the edge of your seat' thriller.

I most definitely will be checking out Mockingjay, sooner then later.

I give Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins four out of five stars.

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