Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Last month I read The Hunger Games for my book club. Immediately after reading it, I thought I would read the rest of the trilogy. However, after a week or so had passed and I considered the 350+ books on my TBR list (that I already own!) I thought I probably would not ever get around to reading it after all. But then I went on a cruise, which had its own library, and I ran across this book right away and knew it was meant to be!

I started reading it immediately upon returning to my cabin. Catching Fire picks up just where The Hunger Games left off. And these books were written as a trilogy - on their own, they're both very confusing, but also would leave one with very unsatisfactory endings. But if readers go into them knowing that they're really like Parts I, II, and III of a bigger story, I think that's just fine.

Some spoilers ahead, although I think mostly they aren't big shocks, especially to anyone with even a passing knowledge of this series. I'll try to keep them opaque but if you haven't read the books at all and think you might, please skip the next paragraph. Katniss has just won the Hunger Games and has returned home, which sounds great (she's now rich! She and her family get to live in a mansion! She has a boy (or two) that like (love?) her!) but has a lot of not-great things about it too. She's ticked off some Important People, she can't decide what to do about the boy(s) in her life, she makes a lot of wrong turns unwittingly, and despite her best efforts to do the right thing, she even manages to incite unrest. Then there's a Big Twist thrown in to the mix which is Very Unfair, introduces some interesting new characters, and is wildly exciting. Naturally it also open some old wounds, brings up new dilemmas, and makes Katniss wonder who she can trust. At the end of the book, there's a huge setup for Book III.

I am very glad I waited until all 3 books were published before reading them, as it would have been difficult/torture to wait for each one. Also, I like reading them all fairly close together, so I don't forget anything important. Katniss remains an inspiring and relatable heroine. The new characters are unique, some sympathetic, and they're mostly three-dimensional. Ms. Collins may not be a turner of fine phrases, but she's a creator of solid characters. Her characters can be mean but with a kind streak, drunk but thoughtful, smug but loving, and you have to really get to know them, just like real people, to understand their motives and their trustworthiness. They are fascinating, entertaining, and enjoyable to spend time with. Not to mention her action sequences are incredible. I don't read action books often but when I do I tend to get confused quickly about what's going on. I don't in these books. The scenes spring to life before my eyes, the settings, the danger, and the anxiety are palpable.

Is this book Great Literature? No. But I read it in about 2 days, and I'm definitely going to be reading the 3rd. It was fun, distracting, fast, and I'm looking forward to the next.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I checked this book out of the library on my cruise ship!


Julie P. said...

I agree. I read the books as they were released and it was awful knowing I had to wait another year to see what happened to Katniss.

Christy said...

You nailed it on the head when you said two of the strengths of this trilogy were Collins' characterization and her skill with action scenes. Those are two things I appreciated as well.