Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) Book Review

As promised, here is the next instalment in my Hunger Games series review. After my enthusiasm on the first book, the review you will find post-halt may surprise you somewhat. Well, I hope so – it’s better reading!

In Catching Fire, it’s time for the Third Quarter Quell! That is of course the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games, and that means trouble. Trouble cooked up by John SNow, President of the Games. Katniss and Peeta really didn’t do him a favour in breaking the rules and denying them a single victor, and he is angry. He admits this to her in conversation. It’s no surprise when, in honour of the 75th Games, twenty-four tributes will have the honour of returning to the arena. Yes, that means it’s round two for Katniss and Peeta. There is, however, a stirring. Two escaped rebels from District 8 are saying that District 13 still exists. District 13 was not wholly destroyed during the Uprising – its inhabitants have moved underground. Rebellion is brewing, and yet again, Katniss has no intention of following the rules.

The plot of Catching Fire is not really a special new recipe. It feels very same-ey throughout the whole book. The same horror of being chosen as tribute (again), the same visit to the Capitol and the same dressing up-dressing down for the tribute ceremony. There’s all just a little more too it though. Katniss and Peeta are a bit more clued in this time, and they know how to work the crowd and what to say. They choose not to play along as much, and there is a much harder attitude to it. However, the elements of it are the same. To be honest, Collins could write a long series of books on the Hunger Games, and have each different tributes. People would still read them, as the recipe is a successful one. People enjoy the thrill and the suspense of not knowing whether the protagonist is going to win it out and what’s going to happen. However, they wouldn’t be ground breaking best-sellers, because flogging a dead horse won’t move you forwards. Catching Fire is just another Hunger Games. The scenario doesn’t matter, it’s still too similar to be enjoyable. It doesn’t even feel that the stakes are higher this time around.

The characters don’t particularly grow either. They’re still the same sort of people – not cardboard cut-outs. but they aren’t hugely deep fellows. We meet a few new characters, mostly in the form of tributes. The thing is though, with characters that are destined for the slaughter, Collins doesn’t bother giving them much personality. They’re either lions or lambs so to speak, but the bad guys die and the good guys live, so who really cares? That’s my opinion at least. I didn’t feel at all attached to the characters, and the ones we already knew didn’t grow in their own right either.

As with my other negative reviews, this review is shorter than most. I just don’t really care to write as much when I didn’t like a book. If you really hate a book, it’s easy to write a spiel of anger, but if you simply don’t care for it, like here, then it’s hard to find the words to write. Yes, you will need to read this book to realistically read the Hunger Games Trilogy. No, it isn’t a bad book. The thing is, it just really isn’t a good book either. By adding a few chapters to the beginning of the final book, Collins could have entirely bypassed this book. However, writing a book-set of two just isn’t done, so perhaps that’s one reason why we’re still seeing this book. It’ll also make good television in film, just the same sort of thing as last time.

This book gets a 6/10 from me. As you can tell, I really didn’t like it. There is, however, a difference between don’t like and dislike. One is negative and one can be either that or neutral.


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