Blood. Gore. Destruction. Death. Not only do the young children of Panem witness such unfortunate circumstances…but, a selected few are forced to experience it. Imagine a world where children compete –fighting each other till the death, until there is only one of the thirteen standing. This is what is what lies ahead for America…or so the prestigious author Suzanne Collins envisions. Catching Fire, the continuation to the captivating New York Times Best Selling Series, Hunger Games, leaves readers, wanting more to the jarring story of love, family and revenge.
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark once again return to the dangerous arena of the Hunger Game –this time, however, with a slight twist. All tributes who have already managed to survive the previous Hunger Games are to, once again, compete amongst each other. Consequently, Katniss and Peeta revisit their painful memories from the arena, this time, ready to face the more experienced, savage candidates. As the enthusiastic booklovers squirm in curiosity and anxiety they wonder, will Katniss and Peeta survive this time? Is there hope for them in the end?
As I continuously turned page after page, I felt completely engrossed with the interesting conflict, and characters, in awe of Collins mind-boggling writing capabilities. In my opinion, I felt Suzanne Collins’ work was completely different and impressive from other novels I have read in the past. For instance, personally, I was intrigued at how the author was able to come up with such a unique plot twist. In no other story have I read of a struggling young teen, battling life and death situations with close peers. This makes me wonder, how did Suzanne Collins come to this exceptional idea? Furthermore, I believe that Collins outdid herself when portraying Katniss’ conflicting, internal emotions. For example, I bite my lip because once he said it, I’m afraid that’s what I do want. For Peeta to live, even if it means Haymitch’s death. No, I don’t. he’s dreadful of course, but Haymitch is family now. What did I come for? I think. What could I possibly want here? Clearly, Collins demonstrated Katniss’ inconsistent behaviors and thoughts incredibly, giving us an inside look into the troubled teenaged girl’s concealed emotions. Moreover, the description, especially during the games, is phenomenal. As Peeta and Katniss bravely attempt to rescue another tribute, I could honestly say, I felt tears in my eyes. To illustrate, She lies on the sand, gasping like a fish out of the water. Sagging skin, sickly green, her ribs as prominent as a child’s dead of starvation. Everything about her speaks waste –her body, her life, the vacant look in her eyes. I hold one of her twitching hands, unclear whether it moves from the poison that affected our nerves, the shock of the attack, or withdrawal from the drug that was her sustenance. As I read this section, I immediately felt as though I was transported into Katniss’ position –helplessly holding the hand of the brave morphling that had just risked, and ended her life to save mine. Also, it’s refreshing to see that Suzanne Collins incorporates humor, despite the horrifying, violent storyline. As Katniss gets severely altered by her beauty team, Collins writes, If I feel ragged, my prep team seems in worse condition, knocking back coffee and sharing brightly colored little pills. As far as I can tell, they never get up before noon unless there’s some kind of national emergency, like my leg hair. This sarcastic, teasing tone gives the readers a little light-hearted break from the dark, harsh situations. To continue, Collins, without doubt, masters the art of creating a disposition. Whether it be solemn, blissful, or petrifying, I instinctively felt the need to be in the same frame of mind. For instance, the morphling seems mesmerized by Peeta’s words. Entranced. She lifts up a trembling finger and paints what I think might be a flower on Peeta’s cheek. “Thank you,” he whispers. “That looks beautiful.” For a moment the morphling’s face lights up in a grin and she makes a squealing sound. Then her blood-dappled hand falls back onto her chest, she gives one last huff of air, and the cannon fires. The grip on my hand releases. After reading this, surprisingly, I too felt as though I had witnessed a great loss and was grieving after the heartbreaking encounter. Moving, or touching the hearts of readers, as Collins did, is a vital aspect of what connects a reader with a novel. Giving them an opportunity to go through and feel what the character experiences is what makes reading memorable and worth it. Symbolism, another common writing technique is used in this novel. Obviously, the mockingjay pin signifies the hope and courage the people of the districts have for Katniss. Katniss uses this pin to distinguish her allies and supporters during tough times. Also, I felt as though some minor characters also symbolized possible ideas. Darius, for example, was a peacemaker of District 12. He represented Katniss’s original, starving, deprived life that she lead before the games. However, after Darius was turned into an Avox, I felt he represented something different. This distorted Darius showed us how corrupt and twisted the districts of Panem were becoming and how the government treated the people so rashly and savagely. In addition, Collins had indirectly integrated many essential themes in the novel. I clearly felt that loyalty was a major theme. In Catching Fire, Katniss often had to be loyal to someone she didn’t trust, and conversely, often times trusted someone she wasn’t loyal too. The key to survival in the Hunger Games arena is to put faith in your allies, or even enemies. This value of assurance is what kept Peeta and Katniss close friends throughout the game, even if it resulted in their deaths. Another moral I noticed was courage. Katniss proved one thing for sure –she would risk anything to keep her friends and family safe. This confirms, that taking risks and chances keeps a person determined to reach their desired goal. To illustrate, by the end of this book, we lost two dearly, loving characters –Mags and Wiress. Mags voluntarily takes the place of a former tribute, knowing she was walking into her death, just so the other person wouldn’t have to suffer. Her courageous action saved an already traumatized woman from experiencing the ghastly, confided arena once again. Wiress, too, reveals a great secret as to how this particular Hunger Game was operated. Knowing the outcome and the risk of revealing this information to her allies, she was still determined to put others before her. One last theme that I observed was appearances. The leaders of Panem use much of their time and spend much of their money trying to beautify and idolize the tributes into looking like someone they are not. For Katniss especially, many felt as though their true nature wasn’t being expressed, and was being modified just to gain the satisfaction of the viewers. Luckily for Katniss, Cinna, her stylist magnificently portrays Katniss’ rebellious, independent personality through her clothes. This enables her feel open with her audience and be herself no matter what happens in the arena.
Overall, I do recommend Catching Fire to mature audiences. To start off, Suzanne Collins’ striking writing techniques and mechanics paint a glorious unforgettable experience in a person’s mind. Her style or form of writing, differs greatly than that of other common fictional writers, making it seem as though one is reading from a completely inimitable angle. Next, Suzanne Collins undermines the common misconception that science fiction is tedious and dull. Readers expecting to see the usual scientists and astronauts lurking among the pages of this novel, are surprised to see a completely fresh, unheard plot taking the spotlight. Last but certainly not least, people, mostly teens can relate very closely to Katniss and Peeta. Although none of us are experiencing the same situations as these adolescents, their contradictory, differing thoughts are similar as to what teens go through in their everyday lives. Whether it be as major as a life and death situation, or as minor as a slight disagreement with the parents, readers have a close connection with Katniss and Peeta’s character due to the proximity of their ages.
All in all, Catching Fire, the second book to the entrancing Hunger Games Trilogy is an astounding book that every reader should definitely read. Not only is it worth reading, but it changes the reader’s outlook on life.