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Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Product Details
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 391 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780439023498

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.


Having read The Hunger Games and thoroughly enjoyed it, I found the dystopian sequel, Catching Fire, a snorefest.  It took me a very long time to finish this novel - almost two weeks. The beginning of the novel tediously dragged on with prolonged narrations and flashbacks of The Hunger Games.  It wasn't until the end of the novel that I started reading with a quick feverish pace. I think I read the last quarter of the book in an hour, it was that good.  Unfortunately, Catching Fire, fell into the trap that many sequels fall into - trying to fill in readers who may not have read the first book by giving too much filler and excessive recollections and then speeding up in the final parts in order to tie up loose ends and prepare for the next book.  

Catching Fire takes you from the unrest happening in the Districts after Katniss and Peeta's victory to the upcoming resolution they must confront to help the citizens of the districts.  The characters do this all while participating in a middle-school type of love triangle.  In this sequel, the chemistry between Katniss, Gale and Peeta never seemed to catch fire and I was left wanting more.  Not to mention, Gale is all but absent from the book.  Yet the author, Suzanne Collins, wants readers to believe that Katniss wants to be with Gale.  That's all fine and dandy, but where is he?  I can't connect with someone that isn't present.  Meanwhile Peeta, the only male love interest that actually shows up in the book for more than a few pages, adores her and loves her and yet Katniss is confused.

The best part of the book was the twist added to the 75th Hunger Games in honor of the Quarter Quell. When that element was introduced, I thought... ‘Finally, we'll get some action’.  And we did.  Yet overall this book was dry.  Katniss is not the spunky, willful teenager from the previous book.  She is boring, flat, whiney and selfish.  I rooted for her along the entire way in The Hunger Games, however this time around I wanted Rue to come back from the dead and beat her to a pulp.

Final thought: I wasn't feeling this book and wanted to quit half way through.  But I already have the next book in the series, Mockingjay, waiting to be read so I knew I couldn't quit.  Otherwise, I might have.  The ending saved this book from being totally dreadful.  If not for that, it would have gotten two stars.

I give it 3 Stars ***

Tidbit: The book, Hunger Games, will be made into a movie that will debut March 2012. 

Click HERE to read my review of The Hunger Games


  1. I love this frank review- haven't read the series yet but am definitely interested & will eventually for sure. Interesting the character changed so much from the first book.

  2. Lena, OMG this is the funniest and most HONEST reaction to Catching Fire that I've ever read. Hilarious. You had me laughing out loud. Sometimes I think people have drank the Hunger Games Kool-Aid, so to speak, and they just loooooove it, without really looking at it critically from an objective point of view, know what I mean?

    I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy myself a little over a week ago. I loved Catching Fire mostly because I felt the pace was fast. I finished it in about one day, which is very unusual for me.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Katniss. You and I may be in the minority here--I can't stand her. In fact, even after reading Mockingjay, I still can't stand her. But I love the rest of the characters (even Gale with his cameo appearances) and the story is so addictive that I was trapped into finishing the trilogy.

    I can't wait to hear what you think about Mockingjay. Parts of it were wonderful but other parts made me want to chuck the book at Suzanne Collins' head. LOL

    Happy reading!

  3. What an honest, personal reaction! Catching Fire definitely wasn't the best of the bunch. But you just wait for Mockingjay. It's an intense, emotional journey.

  4. Haven't read any of these yet, but with the hype attached to the first book, I expected the others to be as good or better.

  5. Well, I didn't have anything against slowing the pace in this one and I didn't regret not seening Gale who was a bit undervelopped in the first part as well. After the horrid games Katniss had the right to feel burnt out and disoriented. Of course this sequel is worse than the first part but, overall it wasn't that bad. I appreciate your review, very honest and personal as it is.

  6. This book worked for me primarily because I loved the Hunger games edition in this one. I never really liked Katniss much, but you're right, there's a lot of rehashing that could have been avoided.

  7. Although I prefer non-fiction, I may have to write a novel just to get you to review it!

  8. Greta honest review. I actually just bought the Hunger Games the other day because everybody raves about it. But I'm hesitant to read it because I'll want to continue the series and the other two books aren't in paperback yet.

  9. I loved The Hunger Games. The rest of the trilogy didn't do a lot for me. I liked it and finished it rather quickly. But for me, The Hunger Games was the best of the three.

  10. Thanks to everyone for stopping by. I am actually looking forward to reading Mockingjay. I feel so disappointed with Catching Fire, but it's funny, how people have different perspectives on the same book. I loved Katniss in The Hunger Games, but one thing I don't like is whiney, bratty kids, and that's what Katniss reminded me of, she didn't invoke the strong willed, determined, nervous, yet capable teenager she previously was, it was like a new kid showed up for Catching Fire.

    I think some people will like it, some will love it and some will abhore it, but that's the great thing about reading, we get to interpret how we feel about it as individuals and laugh and talk about it and still be able to relate.

  11. I wrote a short review about this one a while back (, and disliked parts of it for a different reason- I didn't find it slow, but I got weary of the introductions of one-dimensional characters with just one or two things that they are recognized for/able to do. There is excellent character development for Katniss throughout the trilogy, but some other characters that could be much more interesting are just never fleshed out enough. I also appreciate the honesty of your review! :)

  12. Catching Fire was actually my fav of the series. I'm not entirely sure why. Perhaps because I really love Finnick. I was disappointed with the third book, even though I liked it.

  13. Interestingly, everyone I talk to here thinks CATCHING FIRE is the best book in the trilogy! I'm torn between CF and THG as a favorite. I love all three, though!

    I hope you like MOCKINGJAY better and can't wait for your review!

  14. I'm a wannabe writer too and I have to say I've been feeling a little intimidated by Suzanne Collins work. I didn't like Catching Fire as much as I loved The Hunger Games but I still read it in less than two days. I am personally in love with Gale and thought that one of author's great skills was the way she could bring supporting characters to life without having them be a part of the action. Or it could be because Gale is so gorgeous :) I really like that you're so honest with your review though.

    I will be doing my own review of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire pretty soon if you'd care to follow my blog!

    The Write Obsession

  15. Now I'm really looking forward to what you'll think of the last one in the series. For most people it was a love-or-hate relationship (I'm in love, by the way). The pace is completely different from the first two.

  16. I thought The Hunger Games was the best book of the series. Sadly for you, I thought Mockingjay was even worse than Catching Fire. And I agree with you 100% about Gale being almost a cipher and Katniss becoming someone else entirely in this book. I'll be curious what you think about the third book!

  17. Hi :)
    Yes I had the same problem I just couldn't get into it.
    Great review

  18. I've heard a lot of people say they struggled mid-way through this, not sure if they wanted to carry on or give up. It's really interesting to hear, and it sounds like most people enjoyed the action in the arena more than the slower paced elements of the first two books. I was probably the opposite, but hey ho.

    Revoew: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


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