Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review - Catching Fire

I may be in the minority when I admit that I liked Catching Fire better than the book it follows, The Hunger Games.

The first book was fun and all that--kids trying to kill each other--and shooting an arrow at the pig's head, etc.  But a lot of the energy in that book was expended on world building.  This is usually the curse of the first book in any series.

The second book, Catching Fire, picks up where the first left off.  But now that we know pretty much how the world works and who the people are, the action starts off more quickly.  This book has more plot and more twists to keep things interesting.

For one thing, it shows what happens in between successive Hunger Games.  Certain events happen as an aftermath to the ending of Book #1.  President Snow tries to smooth things out and to try to stop a rebellion from rising.

Some may not enjoy several "false starts" where the protagonists consider carrying out one plan and then another, but they don't even come close to fruition.  But I enjoyed these several twists, as that's what life's about.

This book offers a view into the government itself and the tricks they use to try to control the twelve districts.  It shows how even the winning District from book 1 is basically hosed.  For example, much of their extra food rations arrive in a rotten state.  Several of my friends point out that this is a terrible way for a dictator to maintain control, and such tactics would definitely kindle rebellion.  I tend to agree, but it's just a story.  The book's more about how citizens react to some crazy concocted civil situation, and not about whether such a situation could arise in real life.

Since the book is written in first person present, there is a lot of action that happens off the pages.  When the climax occurs, there's this big info dump explaining what just happened.  It's all coolness, but I couldn't help but feel that I missed out on a lot of the action.  But then after reading, it's fun putting everything together in your head ... "Now that's why this thing over here happened that way."  It'll be interesting to see how they handle this in the upcoming movie.

My verdict: Well done, Ms. Collins!  And if you read Book #1, it's definitely worth continuing the series and reading this worthy sequel.

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