Monday, 9 April 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I tried to leave a seemly gap before diving head first into the second part of the Hunger Games trilogy, but I couldn't wait any longer before finding out what happened next to Katniss and Peeta.

Catching Fire carries on where The Hunger Games left off, with our heroes returning victorious to District 12. Katniss is reunited with Gale, and much of the first part of the book is taken up with her vacillating between him and Peeta. But an appearance from the head honcho back in the Capitol combined with a new and harsher regime in District 12 make it clear which way her path must lie, whether or not she truly wants it.

After the frenetic pace of the first book, the first half of Catching Fire seems rather slow, and would have been a perfect opportunity for us to get to know our characters better - particularly Gale, who didn't get to feature much in The Hunger Games. Why is Katniss in love with him, if she is in love with him, or if not then why is she in love with Peeta? I'm still not sure; their characters are so sketchy it's difficult to see anything beyond the stereotypical "good guy" facade that the author has created.

Still, never mind all that; I realised long ago that Suzanne Collins shouldn't be my go-to author for character development. What she does excel at is excitement, cliffhanger chapter endings and a very nippy pace. By the time we got to the second half of Catching Fire she was able to put these skills to much better use. There is a certain amount of repetition, which was inevitable given the situation the characters find themselves in, but at least the author was able to build a firm foundation for the following book.

So, while Catching Fire isn't quite up to the same standard as The Hunger Games, it still held my interest enough for me to finish in one sitting. There's a doozy of a cliffhanger ending as well, so I'm not sure I'm going to manage much of a seemly gap this time before devouring the last book of the trilogy.

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