You say you want a revolution

Posted by Marie on Monday, August 16, 2010 in , , ,
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
Science Fiction, YA; ISBN 0-439-02349-1; Scholastic Press, 2009.

Katniss Everdeen thought that after winning the Hunger Games and all the obligatory PR that follows, she and her family and friends are going to be left alone. And sure, it was a bit controversial how she and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mallark won but that's because the pair is crazily in love with each other - so all's well that end well, right?

Apparently not. President Snow, the ruthless tyrant of Panem, had set his flat, deadly eyes on Katniss. Not only for her borderline treasonous actions in the Games but to punish her for unknowingly setting off the starting fires of rebellion in the twelve districts. So what should Katniss do? Flee or fight?

One can roughly divide the book into two parts: first, the continuation of the tension and resulting rebellion that started from Katniss and Peeta's victory, reabbreviating within and without District 12; then second, the Hunger Games of that year (called Quarter Quell), in which there's going to be a surprise (and sure enough, terrible) twist to the already horrible Games.

Catching Fire has the same exciting quality that The Hunger Games have; needless to say, it's a page-turner through and through.

I'm glad that I got to see more of the other districts and the country of Panem in general. I'm one of those people who like to see lots of details in their science fiction, and I'm crossing my fingers that Suzanne Collins might be persuaded to write some sort of prequel on how this world had came about, and how Panem had been in its first few years. You see, as I read though the first part, I've been struck at how this society is so not like the nearest equivalent countries of our real world (I was thinking of communist Russia, China, and more particularly, North Korea). It's not even like it's older literary dystopian cousins (let's give 1984 and Brave New World as examples).

If I'm forced to put a finger on it, I'd say it's because Katniss' story (and consequently, the country of Panem) is still, despite the misery and the hunger and the violence, a story of fulfilled (more or less) hopes and human decency. And the fulfillment of hopes and the realization of basic human goodness are commodities that few dystopian fiction are willing to provide. But then, I'm not sure if this characteristic is inherent in this trilogy only or is some sort of unwritten requirement to dystopian young adult fictions in general. I guess that just mean one thing: I need to push up in my TBR list a few similar books like Lois Lowry's The Giver and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. :P

So anyway, the only thing I didn't like in the story are how the romances were handled. It's too deliberately vague and manipulative, of both characters and readers. And it's so unfair on Katniss. I mean, this is a girl who's supposedly decisive and caring - so why on earth should she dither on the emotions of her two closest friends, and thus heartlessly prolonging the two boys' agony? Remember, this is NOT Twilight, and Katniss is NOT Bella.

On the plus side, I'm glad they fleshed out a bit my favorite character, Haymitch Abernathy (I know his last name, yay!). Plus, I did like most of the new characters, particularly Finnick (Hollywood would have a field day in choosing the actor to play him). President Snow's bad guy character is a tad too cliché, so I'm figuring Ms. Collins will flesh him out a bit more in the third book. And the cliffhanger at the end is the bomb! :)

There, that's my review of Catching Fire. I tried to make it spoiler-free but holler if you found something (yes, I'm still the spoiler queen but I promised Blooey I won't deliberately spoil this time around, so there). Mockingjay (the third and final installment of this series) is going to be released in the Philippines on August 25. This post is quite long already so I'm going to refer you to Blooey's post on the launch event happening on Sunday, August 29. Be there!

4 out of 5 stars



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