Warning! May Contain Spoilers!
Catching Fire is book two of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It continues the story of Katniss Everdeen and her trials and tribulations after being a victor in the Hunger Games, a sadistic competition put on by the totalitarian government of a post-apocalyptic America. The games pit children against children in a yearly fight to the death.
First off, and bluntly, Catching Fire is not as good as The Hunger Games, the first book of the trilogy. Secondly, it is not a bad book and is quite above average. Thirdly, it suffers from, and even magnifies, one of the major problems with the first book – its predictability greatly detracts from the story.
The continued development of Katniss as a heroine is, at times, very good. But … but the constant, and in my opinion, overdone love triangle between her, Peeta and Gale overshadows almost everything else. To say that there were points where it got nauseating, especially towards the end, would be accurate. We can only wonder how long Katniss will go on before she actually admits to herself that she does, in fact, love Peeta. It is that obvious. I don’t know what happens in the final book, but if she never admits to this or it is overturned for the sake of inciting a plot twist and throwing readers for a loop it would be even more disappointing than listening to her girlish prattling over the issue.
The predictability of The Hunger Games sloshes over into Catching Fire. Everything from how the President plans to get even with Katniss and Peeta for ruining the previous year’s games to what the wire placed in the arena will be used for is so obvious. As plot points trudge along they become anti-climatic by nature.
There are however, two saving graces for this novel. One is that the story itself is good enough to carry one through the problems of the second book. Two is that is that Collins, in fact, does a very good job of making the reader care about Katniss by her interactions, no matter how predictable or annoying, with other characters. You want to read this story despite its flaws because you care about the character you have followed for the entire story.
I won’t say anymore. I recommend that if you read The Hunger Games you should read Catching Fire. Yes, I think you will be a little disappointed, but it is still a story that is better than a lot of what is published these days.
I give Catching Fire 3.5 out of 5 stars.