Awhile back, I reviewed Suzanne Collins’s debut novel HUNGER GAMES. And I loved it. I even told my roommate that if I could be J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, I’d be Collins – not because she’s a better writer than Rowling (she clearly isn’t), but because Collins wrote the story I wished I’d written. She wrote the story that’s full of shocking darkness. Harry may fight Voldemort, but Katniss fights a grayer battle. There isn’t clear-cut good and evil. The characters out to kill her are kids.
SO… Good things about CATCHING FIRE:
1. I REALLY like the back-story we got on Haymitch. He’s a peripheral character, who I found fascinating even before we got his history.
2. There were some really good allusions to the first book. In fact, the only time I cried while reading CATCHING FIRE was a beautiful, tragic scene honoring the memory of a character murdered in the first book.
3. The stakes are higher in this one. In addition to the urgent physical danger that fills the HUNGER GAMES, there is an insidious, creeping danger hidden from sight.
4. Finnick! Finnick is a new character who I have a HUGE crush on. He’s a hottie who wields a trident and swims super fast. Also, he has a heart.
That being said, I didn’t love CATCHING FIRE as much as I loved HUNGER GAMES… or Harry.
1. TOO Predictable. I don’t know if Collins just needs practice dropping in details that are secretly hints, but I was able to predict everything about the ending except for whether Finnick would live or die. I figured out all of the other characters’ fates, the exact way they were going to finish up the event in the arena, etc… AND Katniss didn’t figure it out, which bothered me a lot. Brigid Kemmerer posted something on her blog about this awhile back, and it said something to the effect of: No one wants to spend 300 pages with an idiot. I definitely felt like Katniss was a little dense in this one.
2. The stakes were lower for individual characters: In the HUNGER GAMES, I felt like any of the characters could die at any moment, and there were very few I didn’t mourn the loss of. CATCHING FIRE unfortunately gives too many hints as to what’s going on, and I figured out pretty early that most of the characters were safe. So even though the stakes were raised in that the entire dystopian society is in conflict, they were lowered in individual interactions because I never worried my favorites would die. Except Finnick. I couldn’t figure out if he was expendable or not.
3. Stolen Dialogue: One of the characters in CATCHING FIRE tells the other that he loves her. Her response? “I know.” Is it just me or is that Han Solo’s line? I guess most of the target audience were too young to experience the Han/Leia magic, but come on. You can’t steal from STAR WARS!
Overall, I’d give CATCHING FIRE 4/5 stars, which is pretty good. Not quite as good as HUNGER GAMES, but still TOTALLY worth reading 🙂