Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) - Suzanne Collins Before I started reading the Hunger Games trilogy, a lot of people warned me about the second and third books not being on par with the first one. However, now that I'm done with "Catching Fire", I feel it's not really the case for me. This novel was different, and didn't deal with exactly what one might have expected at first, but in the end, I found it just as enjoyable as the first one.

I appreciated the issues it tackled: the soured homecoming; how nothing could ever be the same again in spite of victory; how victory itself proved to be a form of defeat, as if whatever the Hunger Games' issues, nothing good could ever be got out of them—something we readers were already aware of, and that was imprinted even more severely on the characters here. For me, this second volume was full of a constant underlying tension slowly spiralling up towards a final intense momentum.

I don't think the 75th Hunger Games came too late in the book (although I would have appreciated to see a little more of Katniss's and Peeta's reaction about the Quarter Quell announcement), because I'm not sure I would've enjoyed a story that would have been 'only' about such games again. The first half was much useful in distillating the right atmosphere of fear, doubts and ill omens about what would happen; while the revelations at the end, about what was really going on and who was involved, provided a note of hope... yet one that could easily be turned into despair again. I felt that "Catching Fire" was continuously poising on a very narrow line here, just like a rope-walker would do: between hope and its loss; between spreading fire and how it could just as well end up in cold, useless embers; between courage and fear; threats and responding to them; potential friends and potential enemies, and the uncertainty about who was what. I think this greatly contributed, in my eyes, to the intensity of this second part of the trilogy.

But—there is a but—I wasn't too thrilled about the love triangle aspect here. Perhaps because the two boys appear to be a little too similar? I was annoyed at Katniss's inability to choose, to realize who she really loves, but really, choosing in such circumstances is just so hard. It would probably have been more interesting if Gale and Peeta had been more contrasted characters.