Back in ninth grade, I read The Hunger Games. In honor of the fact that the movie comes out on Nov. 22, I thought I’d finally get around to reading Catching Fire.The second book of the series takes the distressed, poverty-stricken districts and the reign of the all-powerful Capitol to new and unbelievable heights, and I was hooked pretty quickly.
The first book ended with the treacherous scene in which Katniss revealed the berries, and made the Capitol look like a fool in front of all of Panem. As the second book takes off, the trouble that Haymitch predicted arrives in the form of President Snow. He is described as very unusually smelling of roses and blood, which alludes to his character. He is kind of like an exotic plant that looks beautiful and harmless, but is really more dangerous than anyone can perceive. Katniss is left with an ultimatum: convince the world she did not act out of rebellion, but merely love, or her loved ones will pay the price.
Such a simple task turns out to be months of trying—at times to the expense of her and Peeta’s own sanities—to act love-struck and play another round of the Capitol’s games. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers here, but drama ensues. Before they know it, a mere act of berries to save their lives becomes something much greater. The people of the districts are rebelling, and it may ultimately end to the detriment of Katniss, Peeta, and all the people they love. The tagline used commonly in marketing for the movie is, “Every revolution begins with a spark,” and I feel there’s no better way to encapsulate what Catching Fire turns into.
To begin with, the essential plot of the series is unimaginable, but also strangely realistic. Catching Fire spares no instance in bringing Katniss and the others in her life to the most extreme means of control. There were things in this book so barbaric and despicable that I at one point muttered, “Oh God,” out-loud in disgust. Suzanne Collins takes no liberties in fully describing the lengths the Capitol will go to teach their districts what punishment means. It’s no longer just the Games, but the very sanctity of life for everyone that is put into question.
Katniss, as always, is an admirable heroine. Unlike Twilight’s meek and dependant Bella, Katniss is a girl with a backbone and enough nerve to make anyone feel empowered. “The girl on fire” is a well-deserved title, although there were times in the beginning of the book where I found myself frustrated by some of Katniss’s reactions.
Early on, Katniss is very self-pitying and selfish; she sees what happened and wants nothing more than to escape, and to save herself and the people she loves. These are honest concerns that any human would have, but I hoped she’d eventually realize all that was happening was about a lot more than her.
And she did.
The whole love-triangle concept also seemed a bit hackneyed to me, but it wasn’t as drawn out as it is in many other common stories today. Overall, I’d have to say Katniss is a fantastic, fearless girl, which, in my eyes, is a great role model for any girl to read about.
The book shows that one person can change the world. But it also shows that repressed people will only stay that way for so long. Katniss realizes that, without meaning to, she gave the districts something to hope for, and something to fight for. She gave them the reason to see that we might not be able to choose how we die, but we can decide what we’re dying for. The book series is about death in a lot of respects, and human nature, and I think it makes a couple profound statements about it.
From grief, to poverty, to love, to rebellion, to many other examples, the book makes clever assertions about how these things function in our world. If I were to be perfectly honest, this book is about a lot more than future districts where people watch children kill each other for entertainment. It’s about government and how much we allow it to control us, it’s about relationships and if put to the test who we are truly willing to kill for, and finally about the imperceptible connection between people when they unite for a cause. It’s about death, the value of a life, and what impact we all have the ability to make in this world.
Our own world has poverty, grief, greed, and killing; this book is trying to warn us (in the most extreme way possible) how bad these philosophies in life can become if they go unchecked. I’m terrified of the idea of a place like Panem ever being a possible future—not to say that it ever will be—but this book made me realize something. We are all strong. We as humans have the ability to change our world, to save it from the abysmal future that may be a possibility. We may be one person, but we might be all the spark the world needs.
I like this book, though there were minor parts where it got on my nerves, I found myself unable to put it down. It repulsed me but it made me think. The characters are strong, the dynamic is red-hot between them, and the concept is original. As well, the book ends with a twist leaving me already ready to open up Mockingjay. This series is a stellar idea, and I can’t wait to see the second film’s adaption. Let us know what you thought of any of the books or the movie adaptions in the comments below; we’d love to get your opinion on them.