Dear God, Please grant me the talent that Suzanne Collins had while writing Catching Fire. Thanks! Amen.
Collins did it again with her second book in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. How many twists and turns can this woman come up with?
The first time I read it, I went into it thinking, there's no way she can surprise us like she did in the Hunger Games. NOT TRUE! There were so many surprises in Catching Fire, I couldn't keep up. From whipping Gale to the announcement of the Quarter Quell to the "pregnancy" to all the tortures in the games themselves. I could barely keep up. No, seriously, I wanted to stay awake to read the whole thing, but since I'm not a teenager anymore and since I have children to look after, I had to keep closing the book to get some rest. (Stinkin sleep!) In my opinion, this was more of a page turner than the Hunger Games.
Side note: Think about it, Collins must have planned out these two or maybe all three books when she got the idea. She started Hunger Games at the 74th games, leading up to the quarter quell. I love when writers have ideas like this and it just blossoms into something amazing.
Okay, enough of me blabbing about that. Let's get to the actual story... We know that tension has to increase as we step into the story. Collins does this, not by jumping into the games again, but rather by playing up the situation in the districts. We get to see most of the districts on Katniss and Peeta's victory tour. It's here that the uprisings begin to take shape. I almost cried when Rue's district gives the sign of goodbye after the announcing Rue's four note whistle. AHH!! Then, when they get back to district 12 and new peace keepers are present.. Rules are harsh and beatings begin...with Gale. I think I was screaming aloud at that part. Add the subtle tortures of Darius being an avox and Cinna being beaten in front of Katniss for turning her into a mockingjay in defiance of the capitol and you have and edge of your seat page turner.
It's funny, whenever there's a love triangle developing, normally, I take sides. Here, I can't decide who she should be with. Every time she's with Gale, I want her with Gale. Every time she's with Peeta, I want her with Peeta. Both are upstanding men who love her and want to protect her. And they don't fight over her like in some other book series. :)
I also loved the other characters. Haymitch totally rocked!!! He was awesome, and I loved the insight into his own Hunger Games. Peeta even makes the observation that Katniss is like Haymitch. That's why he chose to help her stay alive in the first games. My second favorite character was Finnick. Probably because he has that cocky attitude, but inside he's a softy who cares for people.
My one complaint in this one was how dense Katniss seemed to be. I mean, when Mags ran into the fog, and then Johanna brought Beetee and Wiress, she should have made some connections, although the explanations in her mind made total sense. If I were her, I'd probably be the same way: wary of everyone around me.
Her goal in this games is to save Peeta because she believes that he's the better person, which, if we're all honest, is true. He has leadership capabilities and can gather a following with his words instead of his weapons. He's what a new country would want as a leader. Which, by the way, is my prediction for the next book. With district 13 alive and well and the uprising already underway, I can only guess as to how Collins will sum up this series. And based on the twists in her previous two stories, I'd probably be wrong.