Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Catching Fire: Suzanne Collins, January 28—February 10, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
This sequel to The Hunger Games improves on what was an already excellent original. Any concerns I may have had about how Collins could make the follow-up adequately distinct from the progenitor were completely unfounded. Catching Fire was neither a rehash nor denial of the original. It was, undeniably, a follow-up that continued and deepened the story of its predecessor and enhances the Hunger Games franchise.
Picking up where The Hunger Games left off, Katniss is now a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol for districts and President Snow alike. This begins a very interesting dynamic whereby Katniss is torn between standing up to the Capitol and protecting her family from recrimination. It’s a sensitive balance that adds a great amount of tension.
While busy trying to discourage uprisings on her victory tour, Kantiss learns the 75th annual Hunger Games will be a superlative version, as were the 25th and 50th, known as the Quarter Quell. The Games themselves are also very different. Unlike the lone wolf narration of the first instalment, the Catching Fire Hunger Games follow an alliance of tributes in a game that is faster paced and much more strategic than stealth-orientated. This contrast, together with a very eventful arena, genuinely distinguishes the 74th and 75th Games and absolve Collins of any accusation of repetitiveness.
The Katniss/Gale/Peeta triangle continues to influence our heroine and is, of course, a political football that Snow, Katniss and Peeta volley backwards and forwards.
There’s so much else about Catching Fire that deserves praise: the skilful way the trans-book interlude is recapped without being dull in much the same way as our universe orientation in Hunger Games; the inimitable legend that is Haymitch who brings even more colour to the story this time round; the frankly breath-taking, cinematic display from Katniss in her interview with her customised dress.
Catching Fire is packed full of twists, surprises and gut-wrenches up to and including the shocking ending. Collins improves so much on what was already a strong foundation that I have no choice but to award this sequel the full five stars.