Novel: Catching Fire [The Hunger Games #2]

Author: Suzanne Collins, 2009
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Format: Ebook, 264 pages

What do I mean when I say I love Gale? I don’t know. I did kiss him last night, in a moment when my emotions were running so high. But I’m sure he doesn’t remember it. Does he? I hope not. If he does, everything  will just get more complicated and I really can’t think about kissing when I’ve got a rebellion to incite. 

God, this must be the single stupidest paragraph in the entire book. It is the epitome of useless teenage drama, bad writing, and over-inflated ego that I hate so much in a character. But let us step back and start from the beginning. When I read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy last year, I was a little annoyed with some teen silliness that began to unfold by the end of the novel, but generally I really liked the book itself. I loved the fast pace, the elaborate world, the unpredictability of the Games… I wanted to stop at the first book, because I’ve heard some reviewers complaining about the downhill nature of the series. However, the movie release was just around the corner and a friend of mine got me all pumped up about it. She insisted I read the next books as soon as possible, so after holding out a couple of days, I finally gave in to her and opened Catching Fire. It was a quick read, but it was not painless.

Katniss drove me nuts the whole time, and when the protagonist is acting on your nerves it gets hard to cheer for them. In the first book Katniss was strong and independent. She took action and found ways to survive no matter how desperate the situation got. She was a quick-thinker and a reliable leader to Rue and Peeta. Catching Fire, however, showed me a girl that is weak and indecisive. She constantly needed others to save her, and good, likable characters actually died thanks to her. I could not swallow the whole “Katniss is the next messiah, so we must protect her at all cost” thing. She was so relied on as the image of rebellion against the Capitol that others forgot their own survival instincts and stepped into the poisonous gas and let crazy monkeys maul their faces to keep Katniss alive. Not very believable. The most infuriating thing, is that Katniss didn’t really acknowledge their sacrifices, wondering most of the time about their strange behavior. I guess she was mostly concerned who she should kiss next – Peeta or Gale.

Because I’m selfish. I’m a coward. I’m the kind of girl who, when she might actually be of use, would run to stay alive and leave those who couldn’t follow to suffer and die.

Yep, that’s Katniss. That’s pretty damn far from the girl who almost swallowed poisonous berries to save her fellow survivor and to defy the oppressive government! And don’t get me started on the whole love triangle theme. I understand that this book is oriented towards raging hormones of young teens, but does it always have to be an emotional tag-of-war? Both Peeta and Gale seem to have zero self-respect for themselves, and while Katniss jumps back and forth between them, her insensitivity does not shake their undying love for her. In real life they guy would just get pissed off and pretend that the chick did not exist anymore (he’ll probably suffer inside, but will do it in silence, unlike some people *cough*Peeta*cough*). You know what they should have done? Have a showdown like in the beginning of the Saw VII movie with the two guys and the girl that played them suspended above the saw. The outcome would have probably been the same.

One thing I sort of enjoyed was the arena, which is not surprising considering the description of Games was the highlight of the first book for me. I liked the fact that it was built differently this time, and that it had a special theme. It was a bit too easy to figure out for the characters, and that helped them live longer, but of course the Capitol had a few Aces up their sleeves to keep things interesting. The ending was a bit abrupt and happened kind of unexpectedly, but left us with an interesting cliffhanger. I don’t know when I will get to the final book. I feel rather obligated to finish now that the end is so near, but have a feeling that I will never get the same satisfaction as I got from the titular book. Maybe I should have just stopped at Hunger Games.

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