Okay, I was wrong. I said I probably wouldn’t bother reading Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. In my defense, Borges made my brain hurt, and I needed some serious leisure reading. This one certainly qualifies.
If you haven’t read these books and think you might like to, you should probably stop here. My guess is that if you’re reading this blog, this series probably isn’t on your list.
So. In The Hunger Games, Katniss won, but the dictator interpreted the way she did it as an act of rebellion, and so did the twelve districts, so uprisings began. (To catch up on the first book, read this post or check out the Wikipedia summary, which, I’m sure, is better than my halfhearted attempt.) The dictator and the Capitol start treating the residents of the districts even worse, and Katniss has become a symbol of the rebellion. The next Hunger Games are coming up, and they’re the seventy-fifth. Every twenty-fifth Hunger Games is called the Quarter Quell and is especially nasty. This time the districts are forced to choose their tributes among previous victors, and Katniss and Peeta, the tributes from The Hunger Games, are thrust into the arena again. And we get to read about another year of Hunger Games. Then, things happen, and Katniss is rescued (the Capitol got Peeta, but I’m assuming he’s probably not dead), and she learns about the rebellion that’s been going on during the Games. The End.
Catching Fire is basically a repeat of The Hunger Games. It has the same general structure, the same general characters, and basically the same ending. The style didn’t bother me as much this time, but I’m not sure if it’s because it got better or because I realized I’m reading for the plot, so the style is good enough if I can stand it.
I think that Collins‘s choice of writing these novels in the first person is a misstep. Sure, it adds immediacy (they’re also in present tense), but we know, from the outset, especially since there are sequels, that Katniss has to win or, at least, survive. That idea bothered me more in Catching Fire because it’s so repetitious.
It’s also ridiculously predictable for other reasons. Besides the first-person POV, Collins is over-the-top with clues about what’s really going on, even for a book aimed at seventh graders (Wait. Why am I reading this again?).
Despite its flaws, though, I enjoyed it. It’s the kind of book I needed after Borges, and I know I’m kidding myself if I don’t think I’ll read the third one. I even have Mockingjay on my Kindle. The plot is good enough to hold my attention, and, hey, it only took me a couple days to read. I haven’t decided whether to read the next one immediately or to put a few books in between. I’m kind of in the mood for another crack at Garcia Marquez.