“Remember who the true enemy is.”
The second adaptation in Suzanne Collins‘ The Hunger Games trilogy of novels, Catching Fire continues with the story of Katniss Everdeen, as she returns home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark. But it doesn’t take Katniss long to learn that surviving the games doesn’t mean that she has won, especially as President Snow is angry with her for breaking the rules and defying the Capitol at the end of the last Games. Sensing that a rebellion is simmering, the Capitol make a point to prove their control as they prepare for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, The Quarter Quell, a competition that could change Panem forever.
The following post is a review of the book only. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
Collins does not disappoint with this second instalment in her brilliantly created dystopian trilogy, continuing the momentum of a fast-paced, action-packed adventure. Unlike many second novels, Catching Fire improves on its predecessor, yet again exploring themes of oppression, rebellion, redemption, sacrifice, morality, and survival.
The first half of the book details how the story has progressed since the events of The Hunger Games, emphasising the threat and the power of the government in Panem, as well as the fear of its citizens, this time looking at how a desperate government tries to hold off a revolution. It’s not just about the Games anymore; something much bigger is happening, and Katniss is right at the heart of the action.
Just like the first book, the story is rich in political and social commentary. Even though it is aimed at a teenage audience, it’s still ruthless in its execution, and Collins doesn’t shy away from the brutality of her premise. The violence isn’t gory, nor does it disturb the mood of the novel, but it is detailed and constant, with a revolt kicking off outside the Games, as well.
With the setting of this dystopian world being introduced so well in the first book, this second instalment takes the time to focus on its characters. These characters and their relationships are certainly not forgotten about, nor do their developments get overpowered by plot progression. With more time spent developing them and detailing the structure of Panem and the cracks that are beginning to show, we find ourselves even more gripped than we were in the first book.
With The Hunger Games setting Katniss’ character up so phenomenally, as well, we’ve already spent the time getting to know her attributes and relating to her in some way, but now we’re really starting to care. Katniss has worked hard to get to where she is now, to survive in the first place, but also to hone her skills and be ready for the unbelievable circumstances she has been thrown into (and she hasn’t needed a wand to do so, either!). Her strength in character comes from her very personal and human traits of determination and bravery, making her incredibly engaging to follow. She’s becoming more sophisticated in this book; she knows what’s going on, what President Snow’s intentions are, and she wants to do something powerful and meaningful to show them that they can’t control her. Now there’s a character to get behind.
Collins details her story so well that you can picture every moment of these Games, giving us a lot to look forward to for both the release of the second film adaptation and for the final, third book. If you didn’t like The Hunger Games before, you’re sure to start enjoying them now.
Catching Fire was adapted onto the big screen in 2013, which you can read my Book vs. Film Review for here, and watch the trailer for below: