10 February 2011
Book 7 of 2011
7) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The sequel to The Hunger Games finds the political intrigue merely hinted at in the first book become more of a focus here. Katniss' actions at the end of last year's Hunger Games makes her a target of President Snow and the rest of the Capitol, the city that represents the oppression present in all 12 of the districts.
In the middle of reading the book, McB mentioned to me that the middle story of a trilogy is often the best because it has nothing to set up and no one expects a resolution. He's not wrong, either. The story is established from the start: we know that Katniss is stuck between a rock and a hard place in too many aspects of her life. Gale and Peeta both vie for her affections; she hates the Hunger Games because of what they made her do but they're also responsible for the new comfort she can provide her family; the government is displeased with her, but her role as victor prevents them from acting upon it. The impossible decision becomes a major theme throughout the second book.
The characterization of Katniss hasn't improved much from the first installment, though. Collins still makes her a bit too on-the-nose, which always seems to be one of the problems with so-called "young adult" literature. I'd like it more if Katniss were a few steps ahead of me as a reader as opposed to the other way around. Case in point, without giving too much away, is it ever really in doubt who everyone in the games is trying to focus on? Katniss is an incredibly likable and intensely realized female character, and both books would work better if she demonstrated in her thought process that she is as smart as the author wants the reader to believe.
That's not to be too harsh on what is an engrossing series so far. Collins does an excellent job at portraying a dark world that continues to get darker with some vivid imagery when it comes to the death of any of the characters. I'm guessing that I'll have the final chapter of the trilogy finished inside of another week.