Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster boys for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull’s-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol…
I really loved The Hunger Games (my review here), so I immediately borrowed the second book, Catching Fire, from the Kindle Lending Library and dove right in.
This one picks up a few months after Peeta and Katniss won the Hunger Games by forcing their hand with a suicide attempt via poison berries. If both of them couldn’t win like the Gamemakers had changed the rules in the middle of the 74th Hunger Games said they would and then taken the rule back when it was just Katniss and Peeta left, then neither of them would win, right? But this act of defiance, while looking like star crossed lovers not willing to live without each other to the audience captivated and riveted to their screens throughout that year’s Games, sparked outbursts of fighting from the rebels just waiting for the right time to push back against the Capital.
How they’re coping with their new lives in the Victor’s Village in District 12 is precarious, at best. In the short time between the Games and the Victory Tour, where Katniss and Peeta must travel to all twelve districts and celebrate their win with the citizens, they’ve both dealt with the fall out differently. While neither of them will have to worry about money or hunger ever again, Katniss still dares hunt in the forest to provide for Gale’s family since he’s working in the coal mines.
President Snow makes it clear on a visit to Katniss’ home that she needs to make a convincing show on the Victory tour that she is in love with Peeta, and she must calm the citizens of the districts and squash the sparks of rebellion. Although she tries her best, everything she does has the opposite effect and just serves to stir up further anti-Capitol sentiment leading up to the quarter-Quell.
Every twenty five years, the Game Makers go all out with something extra brutal and over the top for the Hunger Games. When the 75th Hunger Games are announced, this should be the first games where Katniss and Peeta will have to Mentor two tributes from District 12 along with Haymitch. But author Suzanne Collins throws a gigantic twist in here, and it was something so unexpected and I won’t spoil it. It made me feel just as helpless as the characters surely did when the Quarter Quell was announced.
The relationship between Peeta and Katniss is just as complicated in this book as it was in The Hunger Games. She’s still not sure if he really loves her or if it’s just an act, but she’s slowly sorting out her feelings for him. If people ask about the whole Team Peeta or Team Gale thing at this point, I honestly couldn’t answer either way because you certainly don’t see much of Gale in the first or second books. Since you see everything from Katniss’ untrusting and unreliable perspective, you can’t be sure what to believe when it comes to Peeta in the arena either. It does seem like Peeta genuinely loves her, and Gale does too. But which one would be better for her at this point is hard to say.
The secondary characters, like Haymitch and several other Victors you meet, are much more well developed than in the Hunger Games. Catching Fire starts to show that the spreading rebellion is so much more than Katniss, but she is an integral part of it whether she wants to be or not.
Catching Fireis a great sequel where there isn’t much recapping from book one so it isn’t bogged down. The action is almost non-stop, the pacing is quick, and the emotion is so vivid you can’t help but feel like you’re in Katniss and the other characters’ shoes. Again, the world of Panem is so brutal, gritty, and oppressive you can’t blame the people for wanting to rise up and overthrow President Snow, no matter how many people get killed in the process. Definitely have the third and final book in this series, Mocking Jay, ready to go because the cliffhanger in this one is brutal! I’m so glad I started these after all of them were published. I give this book a five.