Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins (#2)

If you haven't read The Hunger Games, then there might be a few spoilers in this review.
Actually, if you haven't read The Hunger Games DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW because there are major spoilers for the ending. 

Like the whole of this series, this review is long overdue. I got all the series at Christmas after reading the first book and finally understanding what my friends meant on how great this series is. 
I'm not one to follow the crowd when it comes to book to movie adaptations. Example: I've never read any of the Twilight books because I didn't want to and sure, I saw the movie, but a) vampires in books are NOT my thing and b) I was dragged kicking and screaming to see that movie by my Twilight-obsessed friends at the time. So, basically, there might be something very special for me to start to follow this series with the release of the trilogy of movies...

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and long-time friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
(From Goodreads.com)

Review: This series is quite something so far and it hasn't failed me yet. 
Sometimes books suffer from as one blogger I saw put it 'second-book-syndrome' where you have this AMAZING first book that wants you to read on and on from this author but then the second book? It's a bit of a let down. An example I found was The Luxe series. Rumours, the second book, was not as great as the first, The Luxe, or for me the third, Envy and a little disappointing but still really really good. 

Well, you don't have to worry about that for this book. In some ways, I was more hooked in this book because I was used to Suzanne Collins writing and knew what the series was like - this was just another instalment. I loved The Hunger Games for the action, the characters and the setting but for me, the beginning was quite slow to get into it, although once on the train to the Capitol, everything was fine. This, however, had me from the first sentence. I loved finding out about Victor's Village and life after The Hunger Games which of course, the readers know nothing about. I liked seeing Katniss, Prim and their mother adjusting to live there. To see the consequences for all the characters and the setting for District 12 winning. And finally, seeing the reaction from Katniss' actions at the end of the book with Peeta. I had all these things I wanted to find out more about and these were all catered for in this book.

Here, we had the things we recognise from the first book about District 12 such as Katniss hunting. However, with changes as a consequence of Katniss, it was interesting to see how this would happen or turn out like. There is suspense and mystery surrounding some things at the beginning of the book that later are revealed and really drive the story along with both you and Katniss wanting to find out.

There are the same old characters from the previous book: Octavia, Gale, Prim, Cinna, Haymitch, Peeta. Plus there are some new characters of Finnick, Joanna, Plutarch, Wiress among some of them. I found none of these characters distracting or annoying at all despite their personalities and they really enhanced this new chapter of Katniss' story. 

Although some of the setting is in District 12 (which still seems as small as ever to me), we also see more of the setting of the Capitol. Mostly I found this place so corrupt and disgusting that I could start to imagine a world such of this at present. The Capitol is really an interesting place as a setting and I enjoyed finding more about from Katniss, when not being a tribute. 

Whether you find out from the blurb of Mockingjay or somehow find out, something very big happens at this year's Hunger Games in Catching Fire. Something that does impact the winners completely. I did read the blurb of Mockingjay before reading this and it gave the BIG thing of the book away, but don't worry if you do, I found I was still surprised by how and why this happens and what happens within it. 

The ending hosts one of the most annoying cliffhangers I have read in a while - Suzanne Collins is really a master of them. It ends so suddenly and so well that - ah, I cannot describe it well really. The title does reflect what happens in the book although not perhaps obviously. The events Katniss goes through make it seem like every aspect of her life is 'catching fire' or starting something new. 

The book is just pure brilliance and a great next instalment for the Hunger Games trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book with the marvellous characters, setting and the depth of suspense and tension that is built constantly. This was such a nice chance from some other books such as this with the moments of intense action with ones where it is interesting although nothing much is happening. This is a book I would recommend to anyone that has read the first book and I cannot wait to see this on screen. Really, read it. 

I give it 5 out of 5

Click here for my review of the first book. The last book in the series, Mockingjay, is out now. 
The movie adaptation of the first book is out now and the adaptation of Catching Fire is due out next year

Pages: 391
Publisher: Scholastic
Challenges: None

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